The end of this week will mark the release of the fourth album by death metal traditionalists Memoriam, a band, which was born back in 2016 as a tribute to the late Bolt Thrower drummer Martin “Kiddie” Kearns. First few seconds into opener Onwards Into Battle prove that the guys continue forging their trademark mid-tempo, war-themed death metal style and are not going to disappoint this time either. As frontman Karl Willets tells us in the interview we did recently, To The End reveals a storyline, set in a point in time just before the first trilogy starts. The atmosphere is further enriched with yet another marvelous cover artwork by the one and only Dan Seagrave, which has been a tradition since the first album.
Memoriam have always put stress on influences from the punk, crust punk and hardcore scene, injected stylishly into their death metal musical basis, and the role of new drummer Spikey T. Smith in shaping out the new songs sound should be complimented. The rhythm section is as engaged as ever, but there surely is a new “touch” added by Smith in songs like This War Is Won and especially the title track To The End, where the dynamic is just overwhelming. No Effect is an early highlight in the album, with a beautiful epic melody by Scott Fairfax at 2:48, which leaves me wishing for more of these guitar harmonies in future albums. The doom hammer Each Step (One Closer To The Grave) is simply EPIC, with a leading riff in the best Greg Mackintosh tradition and fantastic, expressive vocals by Willets. Crushing stuff.
Vacant Stare and Mass Psychosis are two more songs that are carried by a crust punk attitude and an up-tempo structure and at this point it should be noted that To The End is the best sounding album in Memoriam’s career (production was once again taken care of by Russ Russell). Closing song As My Heart Grows Cold is undoubtedly the most emotional and epic composition I’ve heard for a very long time and truly the crowning achievement in the new album. When the riff at 2:24 starts, this is just pure bliss for every metal fan. You can’t help clenching your fist or raising horns in the air. This is great music, which demands the “repeat” button to be pushed over and over again and bands like Memoriam are exactly the breed that needs your support more than ever in these dark times.