Memoriam – Rise to Power (Reaper Entertainment)

Wednesday, 1st February 2023
Rating: 9 / 10

Even if latest business models of regular release schedules for bands are lengthier than the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s, some musicians subscribe to striking now while the iron fist of creative juices still flows freely. Memoriam of the UK may seem like a newer act since forming in 2015, but Rise to Power is the group’s fifth studio album in eight years – with a sixth record almost finished the writing stages. When it comes to pummeling, old school death metal these veterans continue to churn along to that tried-and-true path to destruction – as a result issuing possibly their strongest front to back outing to date.

Distant male/female voices echo through the opening sequence of “Never Forget, Never Again (6 Million Dead)” – keeping the memories of the World War II Holocaust front and center against a whirlwind of low, driving mid-tempo riffs. Vocalist Karl Willetts roars in his distinct burly growl, the work of drummer Spikey T. Smith exciting through his slightly progressive snare/cymbal transitions beyond his fluid double kick action to keep the arrangement dynamic with ears pinned over the 6:20 playback time. The riff vault plus layers of rhythms, counterpoint offerings, and small details puts guitarist Scott Fairfax in rarefied air as a songwriter – choosing distinctive placement in his atmospheric touches that add traditional, doom, or extreme angles to the death formula. He can often pull out a tremolo run just after this cavernous heavy passage, allowing songs like the militant head crusher “Total War” or groove pounding “All Is Lost” to cement themselves deep into your soul as the best, eternal death metal tracks should. The band are able to take the best of their past knowledge, execution, and skill sets with Benediction, Bolt Thrower, and Sacrilege yet add a bit of cultural/Viking-like twist at times to broaden the epic feel/landscape, possibly aiding modern appeal with a song like “I Am the Enemy”.

Once again sticking to trusted parties like Dan Seagrave for the cover as well as Russ Russell behind the production proves you don’t break up a team for Memoriam if all the parts work in tandem just fine, thank you very much. As great as the previous To the End was for this scribe, Rise to Power doubles down that much firmer on its pulverizing, musically adept old school death stance – and we listeners reap those benefits in spades.

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