Remembering that Memoriam was born from the ashes of Bolt Thrower (the band was founded by Karl Willetts and Andy Whale, singer and drummer of this great name in death metal, with Frank Healy and Scott Fairfax of the bands Benediction and Cerebral Fix) becomes less less relevant, as the group has since 2016 forged its own identity. Created in a time of grief and, as its very name underlines, to pay tribute to late Bolt Thrower drummer Martin Kearns, the band have now surpassed their original status and are even demonstrating, with a fifth album in just six years, a certain vigor. At an average age of fifty-five, the four musicians are not only productive, but still inspired enough to create more than a rehash of Bolt Thrower and Memoriam even tends to improve from album to album. The inspiration even still seems strong enough to put aside the initial idea of making Memoriam a cover band for old crustcore and grindcore bands, an idea that Karl Willetts planned to concretize after the triptych of the first three albums.
From Bolt Thrower, however, Memoriam inherited some notable features. On the text side, the quartet is still mainly interested in the subject of war, which Bolt Thrower had made its central theme, long before Sabaton took over the niche. On the music side, Memoriam continues the doom coloring that Bolt Thrower had brought to his death from the album The IVth Crusade. Memoriam therefore takes up the torch, but takes it in its own direction, notably with a strong political position. With age, the playfulness of Warhammer-style warfare has faded in favor of deeper reflection on the state of the world, and Karl Willetts no longer shy away from freely expressing his opinions in a largely apolitical genre. It is on this committed note that the album opens with “Never Forget, Never Again (6 Million Dead)” and “Total War”, which deal respectively with the Shoah and the current war in Ukraine. . Memoriam’s music is always broadly divided between a vigorous death instinct and a doom gravity force. Thus the initial velocity of the first track of Rise To Power breaks off halfway through, as if overwhelmed by the evocation of the number of victims of the Holocaust. The rolling fire of the rhythm section and the gusts of guitar riffs give way to leads with tragic accents on which Karl Willetts places his words as heavy as a burden. Anxious not to weaken the scope of his subject by too rocky grunts, the singer, in a vocal style more desolate than enraged, is always distinctly audible. He does not lose any impact, his belching, although a little worn by time, still has the strength of what comes from the guts.
Memoriam has apparently decided to build its discography in the form of successive trilogies: after those of the Hellfire Demos then the first three albums, Rise To Power is the second album of the one started with To The End. This marked the opening of a new chapter by broadening the stylistic spectrum of the group and notably sprinkled its field between old school death metal and death-doom with crumbs of punk/thrash. Rise To Power continues this trend by offering a collection of varied tracks. Memoriam’s doom bent is particularly evident here, through tracks like “I Am The Enemy” and “The Conflict Is Within”. With its repetitive guitar leads whirling like ominous birds, which Karl Willetts accompanies with his overwhelming sentences, the first illustrates the melodic sense which guides the writing of the group and which prints a melancholy depth even in its most brutal moments, like “Total War”.
The dark moods do not numb the dynamism of an album precisely carried by its diversity and by an always powerful groove. Added to a structure all in breaks a bit more technical and an obstinate violence, this rhythmic drive makes “Annihilation’s Dawn” an irresistible firebrand. In “This Pain”, beautiful sad chords and rhythmic heaviness draw a morose atmosphere through which a bellicose death metal gradually makes its way. A picture familiar from the other tracks, to which a more pronounced epic scale is added here which allows Memoriam, faithful to its habit, to conclude the album on a precisely memorable note.
Lyric video of the song “Total War”:
Video clip of the song “All Is Lost”:
Album Rise To Powerreleased on March 3, 2023 through Reaper Entertainment. Available for purchase here
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Memoriam – Rise To Power – RADIO METAL
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