Requiem For Mankind – Memoriam Undefeated, Or A Pyrrhic Victory?
Still forging on / Through advancing years / The past now gone / Yet the memory remains
Memoriam released their debut full-length less than two and a half years ago, and already their third, Requiem For Mankind, is seeing the light of day. I lamented the rushed production of the sophomore, and retrospectively, was too gentle with it in my review. Has the slightly longer wait between two records helped Memoriam craft a truly great album this time?
The Silent Vigil was riddled with issues, and Requiem For Mankind seeks to rectify all of these, and mostly, it does a fine job at it too. Whereas it’s predecessor saw Karl Willets retain little of his once beastly roar, the foursome’s third strike sees him back on the top of his game. It’s the best performance Willets has given in fourteen or so years.
Whereas the sophomore sounded like it had been patched together from several sessions, only some of which sounded good, Requiem… does not only sound consistent – it sounds consistently good. Booming bass only barely hiding behind the beefy guitars and balanced drums, the melodic sections striking through with a sharper tone and the vocals powerful enough to cleave through it without being placed directly at the helm.
Just as The Silent Vigil turned out a sour disappointment, largely because of the immaculate legacy that the foursome of Andy Whale, Karl Willets, Frank Healy and Scott Fairfax had left behind even before it’s formation Requiem For Mankind excels in comparison to it’s predecessor. It’s good enough to stand on it’s own legs, but without a continuity through which to define it, it’s just a good album. What has always been Memoriam’s greatest problem, remains. They standout more for their line-up than they do for their music. And although it could be said no matter how good the music actually was, as it is, Memoriam struggles to establish themselves as a band independent of that continuity.
Though the occasionally appearing punk influence on For The Fallen was not always well harvested – “Corrupted System” ended up choking on it’s six-minutes’ worth of stagnant riffs – I lamented it’s disappearance on The Silent Vigil, because it had the potential to help cement a Memoriam’s character as a band of it’s own. It doesn’t make an appearance of Requiem For Mankind either, which, at first, seemed so consistent not only in terms of sound, but in style as well, even verging on monotony.
Constant attempts to prevent this are made – besides the closing instrumental “Interment”, “Never The Victim” presents the band at their most melodic, but it’s intro-hook is never returned to; “Austerity Kills” features Fairfax’s finest, chunkier-than-the-rest, boxy riffing, stylistically recalled on “The Veteran”. But it takes several spins for these moments to start standing out from the crowd.
When there’s nothing left, you cannot take much more
Remember who you are and what you’re fighting for
When you find yourself with your back against the wall
Look to your inner strength, take courage, stand tall
Requiem For Mankind sees Memoriam at their most uniform, with the less diversity between songs than before, and yet, between singular riffs there’s more variegation than ever before. It’s a simple, straightforward and almost blase, working man’s death metal album. Old school music with no frills, no tricks and no fuss. Memoriam doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done a thousand times before, by these guys alone, but finally, they’re doing it well. Hopefully, when album #5 inevitably comes out two years form now, the band will have been able to keep up this level of workmanship up.
3,5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
War never changes. War has changed. Two seemingly conflicting statements existing in harmony. For no matter how much war changes, the constant remains. War rages on…
Requiem For Mankind is available now on Nuclear Blast, but you’re not in so much hurry you can’t spare a moment to the band over at some social media site.