MEMORIAM “The Silence Is Deafening” 

By Dr. Abner Mality

Britain has a noble tradition of powerful and influential death metal bands Names like Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower and Benediction immediately come to mind. Others like Cerebral Fix, Sacrilege and Akercocke take a bit more effort to dredge up. In 2018, perhaps no band carries the torch for the classic Brit-death sound more than Memoriam.

Combining members of Bolt Thrower (R.I.P) and Benediction, the band lives up to its name quite literally. It was formed in tribute to deceased Bolt Thrower drummer Martin Kearns. First album “For the Fallen” was a way to work through the grief of Martin’s passing and also establish Memoriam as a new and singular entity.

Now the sophomore effort “The Silent Vigil” makes a statement that Memoriam is not just a one off. This band is here to stay. A death metal band with a punk rock soul. Bassist Frank Healey has been around for the entire evolution of British extreme metal so there’s no one better to tell the story of Memoriam…

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Thanks for talking to us, Frank. It seems the new Memoriam album was out in a flash after the debut. Are the songs on it all brand new or have some been around for a while?

FRANK HEALEY: Hello, the album is coming out as we planned it to come out,one year after the last one. The third one will be out around the same time next year !.Three of the songs are quite old (for us !) that go back to the "For The Fallen" period, the rest are totally new. If you look at the brief time the band has been going though then nothing is really old in that respect as people have just got used to the first album and we hit them with another one !

WC:  What was the one over-riding thing you wanted to accomplish with “The Silent Vigil”?

FH: We wanted to create a more raw sounding album compared to the last one. Recording through real amps,no triggered drums,recording songs in a few takes and leaving mistakes and clicking sounds and general fuck ups in that you would get at a live show. I think we have achieved that with the new album. 

WC: The album has some very epic and detailed cover art. What story is being told here?

FH:  It didn't really start out with a story but after Dan Seagrave presented us with the artwork to "For The Fallen" we saw that we couldn't just leave it visually at that. This band was born out of grief and sadness and we saw that there was more to be told both visually and lyrically. The first album art wise deals with the funeral procession, this second album is at the lying in state part of the funeral,the third album will deal with the burial. The three stages of grieving if you like,the sadness,then the anger,and then finally the letting go and moving on. 

WC: Memoriam is in the tradition of the great British death metal bands of the past. Does Britain have some new bands ready to follow in your footsteps?

FH: Sorry but I have no idea ! I don't listen to a great deal of Death Metal so my finger is not really on the pulse,I'm more into the punk side of things. 

WC: How is the writing done for Memoriam? Does everyone pitch in? Does Karl do all the lyrics?

FH: The songs almost always start with Scott dropping a song in Dropbox for us to have a listen to. If we like it then we will go with it,if it's shit we don't ! We then rehearse it and jam it,changing it,changing tempos and such stuff until it is in a usable state. Karl then takes it away and by the next rehearsal the lyrics are there,we go through them together and change what needs to be changed,if at all and there you have it, new song ! Most songs start to finish usually take three rehearsals so we work quite fast. 

WC: The lyrics do seem to be against nationalism, racism and corporate greed. Have you gotten any pushback from right-wingers and fascists in the scene?

FH:  We've had a few comments ,yes, but that is a good thing. If we can cause debate and reaction to our lyrics then that is a good thing.Anything that gets people talking,discussing,arguing is good in my eyes as it means people are thinking and saying what they think wether you like it or not. I'd rather a heated debate any day over sticking your head in the sand hoping it all goes away. 

WC: “The New Dark Ages” is a very pessimistic song. Is there room for hope in Memoriam’s world? Is there any realistic way out of where we are?

FH:  Although it could be argued, we are very optimistic as a band, we just use this medium as an outlet for things we feel strongly about. Our music dictates that the lyrics are not going to be about afternoon tea in the park looking in wonder at the beautiful flowers blooming on a sweet spring day ! We come from an anarcho punk background, our lyrics are a platform for us to musically shout from, like they should be. I'm not sure how to resolve the world situation as it is at the moment but having the lunatics taking over the asylum with the fruit loops we have running our countries at the moment does not bode well. 

WC: “No Known Grave” is a tribute to fallen soldiers of war. Is that an issue that the whole band is involved with? Do you have a lot of military fans?

FH: It's something that we have a lot of empathy about. This song came directly from after we went to pay our respects to the fallen in Ypres, it's heartbreaking seeing row upon row of gravestones for as far as the eye can see and as we walked those rows it was sad to see so many with no names on the headstones,hence the song title. I think we have people who take an interest in Karl's approach to lyrics in that respect but any more than that I do not know. 

WC: The band keeps to a very organic and analog sound. Do you see yourselves as “warriors” for the classic oldschool values? These days, even many of your labelmates sound triggered beyond belief.

FH:  We are not "Warriors" in any way at all. It's just that most the albums were done this way in the 80's/early 90's and they tended to be the ones we enjoyed the most. We like that raw,warm feeling that real amps and non triggered drums give out. We are not on any crusade about it,it's just how we want to do things. We are all for technology in music today and use it ourselves with samples etc. A band makes the sound they want. If it needs triggers then fine, we sometimes use them live if needed and why not ?. If it works then use it, it's no good being a purist and sticking to your guns if ultimately it is detrimental to the whole sound. 

WC: What influences are there in Memoriam’s sound that may not be immediately apparent?

FH:  Hmmm, difficult question. We've taken influences musically from Genesis,Killing Joke and Yes ! Not overtly obvious but they are definitely in there on the new album, just not really obvious is all . 

WC:  How do you see Memoriam’s style evolving? Will it become more epic, more stripped down? Is there room for experimentation?

FH:  We honestly don't know how it will evolve. We listen to a vast range of musical styles individually and Memoriam do not have any invisible walls that stop us going into any style/ genre of music that we feel like trying out. I think we may go a bit more "out there" on the third album but because of who we are there will always be that Death Metal style of ours coming through on everything we make. 

WC: Are there any other musical projects you are involved in, or would like to be involved in?

FH:  We all have ideas/ things going on outside of Memoriam but they are for another time to talk about. 

WC: What are the live plans for Memoriam? Any chance of coming to the States?

FH: We are going to do more club shows rather than festivals this year if we can,it's getting quite busy already for this year.As it stands I cannot see us getting over to the U.S this year,sorry. 

WC: If you could ask any 3 people from history to dinner, who would they be?

FH: My Father,Phil Lynott,Winston Churchill. 

WC: What was the last release you bought just because you wanted to check it out?

FH:. Nothing ! Really,nothing. I tend to listen to old stuff now because I am as well and I know what I like.
WC: In your long musical history, has there ever been any “Spinal Tap” moment where things went haywire that you could share with us?

FH: Too many too fucking mention here ! My whole life is a Spinal Tap moment ! 

WC:. Any last messages or words for the fans?

FH: Hopefully we get to see some of you at a show this year and thank you for all the positive support in making a bunch of old men happy