“The Silent Vigil”

by Dr. Abner Mality

No dust is gathering under Memoriam’s feet, that’s for sure.  The new British death metal cadre. a combo featuring members of Bolt Thrower and Benediction, had their debut “For the Fallen” out a year ago. It seems like only a few months to me. To be brutally honest, I was somewhat disappointed in that offering, as it didn’t come close to equaling the best output of the former bands.

How does the sophomore release fare? Much better, I’m glad to relate. It still has that musty, dusty feel like something from the glory days of British death metal but the songwriting has been tweaked just a bit, with more interesting arrangements and memorable riffing. This is about as far as you can get from modern technical death metal and still be in roughly the same genre. No “slam” parts, breakdowns or complex arrangements here. Memoriam sounds exactly the way a band made of Bolt Thrower and Benediction members should sound. It’s analog all the way, baby, so go hit up Rings of Saturn if you’re looking for triggered drums.

The material proceeds at mostly a stately plod, occasionally picking up some momentum.  “Nothing Remains” is where you notice a slight change from the debut…there’s some cool changes in tempo and riff instead of the same thing all the way through Karl Willets world weary roars are unmistakable, though, as he relates dire tales of our species’ rush to destruction. This is not a happy record at all and the lyrics have the left wing thrust of Napalm Death, which is sure to dismay “tough guy” listeners. Martin Luther King even gets sampled during “Bleed the Same”, a lumbering tank of a track.

“The New Dark Ages” brings the classic battering ram sound of old Bolt Thrower and is my favorite track here. A highly pessimistic song. There’s a blunt force to massive slow tracks like “No Known Grave” and “Bleed the Same” that reminds me of a rhino knocking over a jeep.

Although I still don’t think Memoriam is quite at the level of Bolt Thrower and Benediction, they’re getting there and “The Silent Vigil” is a tribute to the great British death metal sound of yore.