There was not much in the UK death metal scene that could ever hope to touch the power and crushing force of Bolt Thrower, and when they retired after creating the ‘perfect’ death metal record Those Once Loyal, it was a tragedy for us all. Until 2016, when legendary BT vocalist Karl Willetts formed Memoriam as a tribute to the late great drummer Martin Kearns, and decided that we needed some iconic death metal back into our lives. To the End is the band’s fourth in five years, which is an impressive rate and is out today, March 26th through Reaper Entertainment.
Marking the start of a new trilogy of records, following from the last three, To the End is packed with the band’s trademark storytelling. When Onwards Into Battle comes rumbling from its ancient lands, you’ll be taken back to the days when death metal sounded like the true end was coming for you. Instantly recognisable, Willetts‘ roar has never lost any of its iconic growl and the churning chugging riffs underneath him will shake the ground.
The band have become more doomladen since debut For the Fallen, and you get a sense of that epic scale with the majestic weight of No Effect. There’s something eerie listening to the threat of violence against protest at the start of Failure To Comply in this moment of real world existence, and the guitar work that follows feels like a water cannon to the senses.
Memoriam are death personified, an inexorable crush that awaits us all…
Each Step (One Closer to the Grave) is almost certainly the slowest track Karl Willetts has ever appeared on, and it conjures up massive recent works by Jupiterian or Subterrean. The title track thunders along, flexing some rippling low end muscle, while the gloomy Vacant Stare and the stomping Killing Joke-esque Mass Psychosis will stand up to anything else you’ll hear this year. For me, Memoriam‘s gradual development of their doomier side has definitely been their greatest achievement. Coming wrapped in another glorious Seagrave artwork is the final cherry on top.
Memoriam are always haunted by the spectre of Bolt Thrower, but they’ve shown in five short years they’re no mere continuations or tributes, they are as essential to the modern scene as the ‘Thrower was in the nascent years. To The End is a mighty addition to their catalogue and bodes well for the rest of the trilogy. Doom is real, and where doom comes, death surely follows. Memoriam are death personified, an inexorable crush that awaits us all.
Scribed by: Sandy Williamson