text: Jean Relapse
For the Fallen
March 24th, 2017
Strength. Power. Grief. Desolation. Unity. Rebirth. This could sum up Memoriam’s short story. Born from death, surrounded by pain, how could death metal be anyhow different?
For anyone who has listened to death metal for more than six months, Memoriam’s line-up is more than well-known. Their curriculum speaks for itself: former members of Bolt Thrower and Benediction. As simple as that. What can you expect from such a band? Well, two cases are possible. Whether the band becomes an umpteenth all-star band and provides boring, predictable music, or they mix their skills, their savoir-faire to set the cat among pigeons, to say the least.
My own personal opinion is that death metal nowadays is crippled with uninspired bands, who take full advantage of technical means to hide average music. But you’d know if a guy such as Scott Fairfax wrote insipid riffs.
Guess what? They nailed it! For The Fallen, under a title full of meaning, is what old school death metal is about. Groove blends with violence and Reduced to Zero perfectly exemplifies this statement. This song, as well as Flatline for example, are pure neckbreakers. On the other hand, blastbeats and fast tempos are all the more appropriate, sublimed by wonderful and masterful solos. Their promotional song could have been Surrounded by Death as it embodies everything the band is able to do.
It is also interesting to look into the lyrics. The whole album is written in short sentences, fast addresses. Last Words…’s and Memoriam’s fit perfectly in the band’s history, as I previously wrote, because of the events surrounding the band whereas most of the other songs are more generic, Bolt Thrower-like, about war mainly. It could have been very interesting to take full advantage of the tragic situations they had to face as persons and as a band to write in-depth and personal lyrics. We can see a parallel between some war lyrics and this (for instance in War Rages On: ‘And so it came to pass / As time rolls by / Once more into battle / No questions why‘) but the concept could have been developed way more.
I would call this album balanced. It is neither too short nor too long and doesn’t asphyxiate the listener under the same pattern repeated over and over again. The main downside, according to fans, would be the vocals. Karl Willetts used a deeper voice at the end of Bolt Thrower, which makes this tone surprising. They bothered me at first, but they have the merit of being more natural. I guess nothing is perfect.