PICK OF THE WEEK: Memoriam fire up torches, blast societal ills on burly ‘Requiem for Mankind’

Every time we visit some of the legends of our world, we try to remind that these people won’t be here forever, and one day, their incredible work will be in the past and removed from the present. People are going to see a goddamn Dio hologram, which just goes to show you how much fans miss the past once it’s relegated to history.

To be totally honest, I was worried the members of Memoriam might have met their match when they released their second record “The Silent Vigil” last year, an album that paled in comparison to their thunderous 2017 debut “For the Fallen.” Karl Willetts, longtime frontman for death metal stallions Bolt Thrower, sounded weathered for the first time in his career, and it was tough to give that album a lot of visits because it was tough to hear. His mates Scott Fairfax (guitars), Frank Healy (bass), and Andrew Whale (drums) also didn’t sound quite as inspired, and maybe they had just come back too soon after their first one. When the band’s third record “Requiem for Mankind” showed up in the inbox several weeks ago, mixed feelings washed over me, but I knew I’d dig in right away, hoping the disappointment from “Vigil” could be buried. Luckily, that’s just what happened, as Memoriam sound like a band revived, and Willetts is the goddamn force we’ve always know, barking with authority as his bandmates thrash away with hunger and savagery, like they have something to prove.

“Shell Shock” gets the record off to a savage start as the mashing begins and Willetts howls, “There is no escape, you scream, nobody hears!” Killer riffs whip into a storm with the band thrashing hard, as Willetts’ howls of awaiting execution crush, bringing things to a humid, punchy end. “Undefeated” is fiery and crunchy as the double-kick drums do their part, and over the chorus Willetts demands, “No retreat, no respite,” as the band shows utter defiance. “Never the Victim” has a sorrowful start amid abject heaviness, though the song is a reminder not to take time for granted, as one day it will pass you by. “Live for today, nothing lasts,” Willetts calls while the band backs him with melodic assaults and pummeling power. “Austerity Kills” is a blast back against authority trying to keep people down, and it surges hard with mean growls as Willetts smashes those who oppress the poor as well as greedy corporations, with the track seeking to mangle those very targets. “In the Midst of Desolation” blows in with a purpose, dealing heavy blows, with Willett’s crying, “With life now gone, there’s nothing left.” Guitars spiral as the heat builds, while the song imagines drifting off among the stars to float forever.

“Refuse to Be Led” is more atmospherically melodic than most Memoriam songs, with Willetts declaring, “Time has come to make a stand,” before the chains are torn off and the beatings begin. The song remains defiant but approachable, with the call of, “Refuse to obey, refuse to comply,” delivered as a battle cry. “The Veteran” has swaggering riffs and a slugier feel, feeling like it crawled out of New Orleans. “None can see the horror I’ve done,” Willetts admits, while the band delivers heavy metal fire that feels hot and sticky. The title track delivers a heaping dose of doom, pushing its way in and refusing to relent. The chorus is a simple call-back of the title, which is effective, while the rest is cement heavy and lethal. “Fixed Bayonets” has a chunky beginning with a tempo that crushes and Willetts relaying tales of fighting in close quarters, cheek to cheek, battling back to “destroy the enemy.” The band does a fine job conveying the panic and violence, as the song ends in pulverizing manner. “Interment” is an instrumental closer that’s moody and humid, casting a pall over the horrors and bloodshed of war, letting the heart and mind reflect on the price that has been paid.

It’s awesome to hear Memoriam crushing on all cylinders, making strong, relevant death metal that is plastered all over “Requiem for Mankind.” In fact, this record could tangle with their debut in the battlefield any day of the week, and it’s anyone’s guess which would come out on top. This is massive artillery fire from a group of savvy veterans who remain masters of their craft, small speed bump aside.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Memoriam2016/

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

For more on the label, go here: https://www.nuclearblast.com/en/label/

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