Memoriam Still Bleeds The Same
We all knew Bolt Thrower. We all loved Bolt Thrower. It’s time we let go of Bolt Thrower.*
Legacy is a hell of a burden. Not much more than a year after Bolt Thrower called it a day following the death of Martin “Kiddie” Kearns, Memoriam completed For the Fallen, their debut full-length. Andy Whale and Karl Willets have moved on from Bolt Thrower down a path very reminiscent of their previous band. For The Fallen is hardly a carbon-copy but even if it wasn’t for the fact that any grooving mid-tempo death metal album with Willets at the helm was always going to sound like it’s predecessor, Bolt Thrower would still weigh heavily as an unavoidable comparison.
With their follow-up LP The Silent Vigil, Memoriam sounds even more like Bolt Thrower, and at no time does the band attempt to escape that imprint. Further drawing comparison is the occasional mournful note achieved via increased use of melody, carefully applied to a select few songs. It works well, and matters not how similar the songs are. But still, The Silent Vigil cannot quite deliver.
It’s understandable that after so many years the desire to write, record and perform new music would be burning, but to follow For The Fallen so quickly – one day short of a year – screams of rushed production, and unfortunately, so do the songs. You could have condensed a working MLP out of this material, and it would have more than sufficed after such short time – but as it stands, at nigh 50 minutes, The Silent Vigil is far too long to stand proud on it’s material.
To make matters worse, it starts off on a sour note. “Soulless Parasite” may avoid falling through with filler material, but demonstrates the lack of memorable riffs that riddles the whole album, and sounds lackluster to boot. Guitars lack any semblance of punch, power and balls. It’s like a hastily thrown demo instead of a big label release. Ironic, considering the far better sound of Memoriam’s Hellfire Demos. Karl Willets’ voice has seen it’s best days but when not contending with near-spoken word performance, as on “Bleed The Same”, he still retains some of that beastly roar he was known for.
Some of the tracks have noticeably higher production values, only returning to the muddied demo quality for the abrupt title track (and “Weaponized Fear”, sort of) makes it seem like the album was quickly put together from a couple of different sessions. Not only that, one of the albums few highlights, the lively “New Dark Ages” plays at a considerably lower volumes than the preceding and succeeding track, so I’m going to point the finger towards shoddy mastering job.
Expectations make for the best disappointments, so nevermind the salt. The Silent Vigil is passable, groovy death metal exactly as you would expect. With a better sound it would have made a great short-form release. The very BT-like “Bleed the Same” best showcases the mournful side of the band. The spry “Nothing Remains”, “The New Dark Ages”, and the bonus track “Dronestrike V3” – not included in the promo but one that I suspect is a re-recording of the demo song “Drone Strike” – would have made for a better and more balanced experience.
2.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
*Man, I promised myself I’d not mention Bolt Thrower in this review. But how could I not?