"For The Fallen"
By Lord Randall
When a longtime metal fan reads the words “formerly of BOLT THROWER” in a press release or news site, there’s bound to be a bit of sentimentality involved. Not for everyone, and they never wanted to be, Coventry’s favorite death metal sons – and daughter – have always inspired devotion in their fans. Most, if not all, can tell you where they were the first time they heard BOLT THROWER, be it "Realm Of Chaos: Slaves To Darkness" (mine) or final studio album, 2005’s "Those Once Loyal". You’ve just gotta respect a band that would rather not release an album than give their fans something of inferior quality, would rather break up than continue on after the untimely death of a member.
It’s, sadly, the loss of said member (drummer Martin “Kiddie” Kearns) and of MEMORIAM bassist’s (Frank Healy, BENEDICTION) father that led to "For The Fallen". Rounded out by Andrew Whale, Scott Fairfax and vocalist Karl Willetts, the pedigree of musicians stands to any test, but the fact remains, even great musicians can produce shoddy work, heart in it or no. Doomed, CANDLEMASS-ian chords lead off the band’s namesake track until a thundered riff/rhythm that sounds nothing less than imperial takes command, an elegy for the departed. Hey, it’s called death metal for a reason, right? ‘War Rages On’ lives up to its title, punishing, brutal without falling into Neanderthal “gore” mentality, and, at the end, victorious. You won’t find a single second of “progression” within "For The Fallen" as a whole, but when you hear ‘net nutjobs sniping away at how most new bands just steal from the old, this is the old they’re talking about, so trust them to know how to use their arsenal for the most destructive effect. Whale’s machine-gun-turret drumming propels, while the guitars are the tank treads of the armored division, Willets barking orders with the decisiveness of a 666-star general, as in the will-imposing and monolithic ‘Flatline’. The attention span falters but slightly within the nearly 9-minute finale of ‘Last Words’, but by then "For The Fallen" has so cast its shroud over your mind that you let the sounds of battle and white hot heat of victory through apocalypse continue, the recitation of the first verse being a pledge of the departed.
In all, you get what you expect with MEMORIAM. They’re not out to reinvent the wheel, but you know, why should they be? They helped make the damned thing in first place.
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