THERE is a lot of water passed under the bridge for everyone in life, but for Bolt Thrower the past few years have seen more than there fair share of tragedy with the band with it splitting following the death of Martin Kearns.
The tragedy shook everyone associated with the band that had set the benchmark for UK death metal. Shortly after Kearns death the bassist of Benediction, Frank Healy, lost his father. Losses that could have crushed many people.
Introspection and re-consideration ended up with what could be one of the most important death metal bands in many a long year. Memoriam.
Karl Willetts from Bolt Thrower teamed up with Frank Healy, Andy Whale (formerly of Bolt Thrower) and Scott Fairfax of Ex Life Denied and Benediction and, after a brief consideration of being a cover band, decided to record new material.
"From the darkness comes light, from sadness comes joy, from the despair comes hope,"
After the EP 'The Hellfire Demos' expectations have been high for their début release. And 'For The Fallen' does not disappoint. If you can spend all the time in listening to it expecting some reflection of the personal agony then you will b disappointed. To be frank if you want to wallow in other people's misery you can fuck right off now.
This is an album from a band that has taken all their experiences, wound them tightly together, looked at the past and their influences and came out fighting, snarling and ready for the world.
Socio-politically aware, riffs roaring from every spectrum, balanced aggression and precision. Anger and joy conjoined in a full-on ferocious and positivity with passion. Memoriam are the real deal.
What would have been an easy shot to regurgitate the BT and Benediction past this harnesses the scope of Midlands metal, death metal's roots, and an artillery blast. Andy Whale may not have been playing and recording for some time but he has harnessed something deep within to unleash serious firepower.
The firepower is consistent on all eight tracks. Fairfax has riffage to spare, Willetts sounds angry, but somehow happy to be angry on 'Surrounded by Death'. But the reality is that the clichés of death metal are thrown aside here.
The syncopation of rhythms on 'Flatline' and the hints of djent on 'Corrupted System' showcases a band that will not be constrained.
Deploying samples (the declaration of war on Nazi Germany intro for 'War Rages On') and pinch harmonics when necessary 'For The Fallen' is an album that cannot help but make you sit up and pay attention.
It is not perfect, but it is damn close. As soon as the almost nine-minute closer 'Last Words' ends the impulse to hit 'repeat' is irresistible. And, with every subsequent listen you discover more nuances and majestic nastiness.
Review by Jonathan Traynor