For former Bolt Thrower vocalist Karl Willets, Memoriam has provided an outlet following the tragic death of his bandmate, drummer Martin ‘Kiddie’ Kearns. For Benediction bassist Frank Healy, the project has helped him to cope with the loss of his father. As a result, there’s a poignancy to For The Fallen that makes it more than just a (predictably) great death metal album.
Reuniting with ex-Bolt Thrower drummer Andy Whale, Willets and Healy – plus relatively unknown guitarist Scott Fairfax – have created a record that has a soul, a real sense of identity.
Yes, it inhabits the same charred landscape as ‘Thrower and their fellow Midlanders Benediction, but For The Fallen is no pastiche, no re-hash of its members’ past glories. Listen to Return To Zero, for instance, and you can tick off another titanic riff, another trademark war-growl from Willets; however there’s also a rhythmic architecture at work that’s different to what you might expect. For The Fallen’s formidable closer, Last Words, meanwhile, adds Fairfax’s melodic sensibilities to the mix and its doomy vibe (plus spoken word contribution from Sacrilege’s Lynda Simpson) is spellbinding.
Of course, Memoriam – given their collective history – are also masters at sonic obliteration, and from the churning War Rages On to the d-beat rage of Corrupted System, their debut is a fierce reminder of the potency of Britain’s extreme metal scene.
Though born from adversity, For The Fallen is a triumph… and a follow-up can’t come soon enough.