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Memoriam - The Silent Vigil review

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Band: Memoriam
Album: The Silent Vigil
Release date: March 2018

01. Soulless Parasite
02. Nothing Remains
03. From The Flames
04. The Silent Vigil
05. Bleed The Same
06. As Bridges Burn
07. The New Dark Ages
08. No Known Grave
09. Weaponised Fear

Pity the benighted peasants who will never know the staggering battery and merciless hellishness of well-executed old school death metal, for Memoriam is the type of band that turns mere musical notes into physical force. This is the sort of thing I picture when I hear the words "death metal".

Memoriam gathers Karl Willetts and Andy Whale of Bolt Thrower, Frank Healy of Benediction and Cerebral Fix, and Scott Fairfax of Cerebral Fix for a celebration of ragged grunting and fuzz-filled grinding. Memoriam is, in a way, a revitalization for these musicians; the last Bolt Thrower album was in 2005, the last Benediction in 2008, and neither of the two Cerebral Fix members in question featured on 2016's Disaster Of Reality, the band's first album since 1992 (and now last, it seems). Memoriam provides a new creative outlet for these talented musicians sorely in need of one, and combines influences from each of these projects to create something in between the three.

Gruff as a chain-smoking guard dog, Karl Willetts enters a slightly higher vocal register than what he is known for; the difference isn't terribly dramatic, as he always possessed a punky hoarseness that kept his growls more in the John Tardy range than the Antti Boman range, but the huskiness and higher pitch brought by age sometimes give Memoriam the sound of half-speed grindcore. Heightening that impression are broad, crushing riffs built out of big chords and the rough, unadorned attitude that recall punk and early thrash. Memoriam has a genuine grey, veteran aesthetic that goes a long way in selling the old-school death idea.

Memoriam carries over from Bolt Thrower the high-end doubling of riffs and eerie leads that promise something similarly enveloping and monolithic. What's missing is the flattering production and sheer, crushing weight of force that facilitates the atmosphere cultivated by such an approach; Memoriam is heavy, but not brutal. Or maybe it's brutal, but not heavy. The urgency of "Bleed The Same" and reflective sobriety of "No Known Grave" come across perfectly well, but despite compositional similarity to Bolt Thrower, the production and overall aesthetic appear to stem more from Benediction and Cerebral Fix. The gulf between all these sounds is not enormous - we're only going from death to different death/thrash - yet it is enough to leave me wishing for a more powerful low end and a more substantial backbone.

So they could stand to be heavier; conceptually, I'm drawn to Memoriam for the same reasons I fell in love with Bolt Thrower. Memoriam is almost the opposite of technical death metal; not because of any lack of instrumental prowess or showmanship - though the frequently conservative riffs do have a strong hardcore punk mentality - but because this approach prizes repetition, consistency, and bluntness over technicality and complexity. Memoriam's sound isn't predicated on speed or brutality or innovation. Memoriam is all about stasis: solid, immutable stasis. Stubborn and straightforward, raw and resolute, The Silent Vigil is like a bulldozer of sound.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Production: 6

Written on 08.04.2018 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 116 users
09.04.2018 - 12:37

14.04.2018 - 05:28

Spot on review
16.04.2023 - 19:18
Rating: 8

Listening to them felt like listening to the gentlemen of death metal.
Leeches everywhere.

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