Few things are as reliable as Memoriam. Formed in 2016, the band, who are proudly UK old-school Death Metal through and through, have been prolific in their output since their inception. Rise To Power is their fifth album since their thrilling debut, For The Fallen, hit our ears in 2017. Given the pandemic is sandwiched in that run, it’s quite something.
Memoriam – Rise To Power (Reaper Entertainment)
Release Date: 3 February 2023
Words: Paul Hutchings
What’s even more impressive is the continued quality of the band’s music and songwriting. Artist Dan Seagraves has crafted another stunning visual cover piece which is in keeping with the band’s direction and ethos, whilst Russ Russell is at the production helm again, reuniting the tightly knit team.
2021’s To The End saw the band throw in some changes of direction and style without sacrificing an inch of the bruising power that makes them instantly recognisable and such a vital part of the Death Metal scene today.
Rise To Power isn’t going to disappoint in any way, shape, or form. Forty-five minutes of relentless aural assault will sate the demands of the purists, with the slower pace employed on a couple of tracks demonstrating the reflective, sombre side of the band.
It’s also number two in the second trilogy that Memoriam have written. With 2018s Requiem To Mankind closing the first chapter, on To The End, we return to the lives of the King who was laid to rest in that first triple barrage. As the King rises to power, it’s a no-brainer title.
As with all Memoriam albums, it is the theme of war that is prevalent, with commentary including grief, loss, and despair, as well as reflectiveness on the Holocaust and recent events like the war in Ukraine. Despite the dark foreboding that hangs like a shadow over the album, there is plenty to enjoy.
It takes less than a minute before Memoriam is issuing the spine-crushing riffage that we know and love. Opener Never Forget, Never Again (Six Million Dead) comes out of the traps hard and fast, Spike T Smith’s powerful drumming propelling the band forward with obscene amounts of energy. The double kicking is low, rumbling, and menacing.
Guitarist Scott Fairfax drives the groove, his punishing riffs falling like shellfire on a battlefield. That leaves bassist Frank Healey to lock in the low end with aplomb. Over this, the gravel-throated roar of Karl Willetts once again leads the charge, his enunciation unique, his delivery ferocious. It’s an opening salvo that will leave the old school satisfied, the uninitiated scattered and trembling, and those with a fragile constitution, in need of the bathroom and some Imodium. For this onslaught hits right to the bowels.
If you hadn’t had enough of a battering from the surging opener, Total War, which follows with explosive intent, will provide the ground assault that supports the ariel bombardment. Switching between rapid-fire passages and a few mid-tempo segments, this is Memoriam in full-throttle glory. Fairfax peels out the solos whilst the band is one combined force as it rages forward with brakes not an option. A juggernaut of a track, it’s unstoppable.
The middle section of the album sees a change in pace, with two slower but no less heavy tracks, in I Am The Enemy and The Conflict Within. Memoriam are superb at this slower, doom-soaked grinding delivery, and Willetts brings through his emotive vocals with style. Hell is unleashed once more after this, though, with the groove-laden Annihilations Dawn, which features some unusual time signatures before it eases into another brutal, destructive delivery.
It’s a headbangers dream, for the groove encourages you to lose control and race into the pit. This should be awesome when played live, with the spine of the song demanding interaction. When the pause comes, it provides welcome minutes of respite before a punishing conclusion.
The band rightly feel that Rise To Power is their strongest album to date, and as one listens to the steamroller approach employed on the title track, it’s difficult to challenge Memoriam’s view. Such is the sheer intensity of the music, combined with an underpinning melody that is often absent in Death Metal, that you can really only marvel at the rich well that the band have at their disposal.
Each song stands on its own, with the epic and monstrous This Pain, with its varied guitar work, a perfectly situated conclusion.
In my view, Memoriam continue to improve with every release. Rise To Power continues their journey in fine style. The band is lean, hungry, and focused. It’s another high-quality release from some of the UK’s most seasoned and professional musicians.