Those following this project know that Memoriam is a UK death metal super group of sorts born of sadness, loss and friendship. With the passing of Bolt Thrower drummer Martin “Kiddie” Kearns in 2015 and the death of Benediction’s Frank Healy’s father just 3 weeks later, former members of both bands came together to form a cathartic outlet and jam some tunes together as old friends, thus Memoriam was formed.
Featuring long time Bolt Thrower vocalist Karl Willets and drummer Andrew Whale, former Benediction bassist Frank Healy and Cerebral Fix‘s Scott Fairfax ( who also currently fills in for Benediction live), the line up is an impressive British affair, especially for those lamenting Bolt Thrower‘s demise and excited to hear Willets, a British death metal institution, again after a few years away.
Well Memoriam, sounds exactly as you would expect it to sound, especially for two bands and members who have been so intertwined for the last 25 years. It’s a British, simple, beefy, meat and potatoes mix of both bands. The themes are more war/death based, and the musical needle leans a little more toward the Bolt Thrower sound, but think somber Bolt Thrower tracks a la “…For Victory”, “Mercenary” or “When Cannons Fade” “Those Once Loyal”. And speaking of the classic “…For Victory” track, Willets’ vocals, have not aged that well, as he seems to have more of a gruff shout/spoken word that recalls his delivery of prayer of remembrance that closes that iconic track.
Still, his presence alone warrants excitement about this album, and collaboration is perfect. The simple, effective trundling riffs are more somber and patient than death metal heads might expect, but they are effective in conveying the albums themes. Bolt Thrower fans will relish the likes of “Reduced to Zero”, “Surrounded By Death” and “Resistance’ which could be Both Thrower riffs left on the cutting room floor with big, rumbling tank like salvos, with strains of despair littering the battlefield. The Benediction vibe comes through in slightly faster songs like “War Rages On”, “Corrupt System” and “Flatline”, but the balance throughout is perfect.
8 and a half minute closer “Last Words” is particularity poignant, both lyrically and musically as it mixes a little thrash chug and more morose, doomy pace into a perfect closer and epitaph to Martin “Kiddie” Kearns. And while this isn’t quite a full on Bolt Thrower reunion or comeback, its the next best thing and I hope the project continues and develops as they move past the loss of loved ones.[Visit the band's website]