Memoriam – To the End (Reaper Entertainment)Monday, 5th April 2021
Once the locomotive creative train rolls, no sense in stopping momentum. Especially as we race against the proverbial clock of time on this Earth. Such is the case for UK death metal quartet Memoriam – featuring players best known for their work in Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Napalm Death, and Sacrilege among others. Together only since 2016, To the End is the group’s fourth album, and first for Reaper Entertainment after completing their contract with Nuclear Blast. Switching out drummers with Spikey T. Smith replacing Andrew Whale, the band issue another nine songs of pounding old school style death, featuring a mix of faster and mid-tempo/doom-oriented arrangements that keep the fire burning for those who love the UK/European finesse and heart of the movement.
Tempering brutality with melody be it in specific rhythms, minor melodic lead enhancement, or just a solid rumbling groove passage are trademarks of the Memoriam sound. Guitarist Scott Fairfax has the right sensibility to place layers of crushing rhythms against a circular supplementary catchy refrain – check out “No Effect” from his duality in this regard, featuring everything from death/thrash riffs to occasional groove switch-ups and traditional Maiden/In Flames-esque mini-runs. When the band lock into a tight sequence and choose to build it out with small bursts of power or cutting the tempo speed down for a mid-tempo doom/groove angle, it’s inevitable that heads will swirl, fists will bang, and memories revert back to these gentlemen who still excel at their craft in 2021 even thirty years plus after this genre garnered underground praise. Vocalist Karl Willetts still has that deep, gruff growl and menacing swagger – sending chills down spines as the bellows from the depths of his soul carry “Onwards into Battle” and “Failure to Comply” into every death maven’s body. Understanding dynamic diversity from the triplet/militant hits against cultural riffing during the opening instrumental sequence for the title track as well as the atmospheric touches and calm to heavier shifts for the doom/death blend of closer “As My Heart Grows Cold” proves beneficial for retention as well as lower aural exhaustion possibilities.
Memoriam keeps the UK death sound alive and bristling – To the End supplying another sterling example of the longevity and vitality of this genre.