Spawned from the ashes of Bolt Thrower (England’s technical death metal darlings) comes Memoriam with their third full-length release, Requiem For Mankind. For those of you that don’t know, Bolt Thrower disbanded in 2016 due to the unfortunate death of legendary drummer, Martin Kearns. Rather than continuing under the Bolt Thrower banner, vocalist Karl Willets recruited bassist Frank Healy (from Benediction) to create Memoriam to fill the gap in English metal. Together, they have formed one of England’s most brutal death metal acts.
Requiem For Mankind picks up where the prior two efforts left off by bludgeoning the senses with a furious assault of refined death metal. Memoriam gets the adrenaline pumping from the get-go with “Shell Shock,” a ripper of a track replete classic death metal blast beats and a frenetic assortment of headbanging riffs. Underlining the crushing melody are profound lyrics dealing with the shocking reality of war and the abhorrent nature of death. As exhibited throughout the entire record, Memoriam excels at blending fierce riffs with ambient breakdowns and macabre overtones.
Overall, Requiem For Mankind inexorably hits the mark in various aspects, which shouldn’t be a surprise with death metal veterans handling the reigns. Tracks like “Undefeated” and “Never the Victim” feature an eclectic array of musicianship that goes beyond the raw and pummeling nature of extreme music. “Undefeated,” in particular, has rather infectious grooves designed to convert even the most stoic of listeners into a headbanging machine. The influence of hardcore & punk is rather prevalent here, providing a unique and unorthodox twist on a classic brand of metal. This is a stark contrast to “Never the Victim,” which slows the pace down considerably and contains atmospheric breakdowns, a perfect complement to sinister vocals and relentless blast beats.
“Refuse to be Led” and the title track, “Requiem For Mankind,” encompass more melodic cadences just before reverting to soul-crushing death metal. The merciless savagery exhibited on the title track, in particular, is a welcome reprieve amidst a rather bland second half of the album.
“The Veteran” is most definitely the standout track on the album, recalling the groovy undertones presented on “Undefeated.” Willets’ raspy vocals are at its best here, deftly manifesting the melancholy and pain detailed in the song’s lyrical content . The song deals with a veteran’s struggles after completing military service, and the grisly subject matter once again elicits an emotional response, only enhanced by the melodic cadences used throughout the track. Ending on a rather somber note with “Interment,” the melodic instrumental breaks free from the restraints of unoriginality and produces an intriguing sunset to bring the album to its conclusion.
If you’re looking for variety & ingenuity, however, that’s one aspect where Requiem For Mankind lacks considerably. While the tracks mentioned above are bangers, there’s a severe shortage of originality demonstrated throughout the album. With regards to traditional death metal, there’s quite a bit that will pummel you into submission initially, but fail to leave a lasting impression. “Austerity Kills,” “Fixed Bayonets,” and “In the Midst of Desolation” contain ruthless riffs, feral growls, and menacing rhythms, but feature nothing remarkable. While there are specific moments where you feel like the dam is about the break and all hell will be unleashed, Memoriam plays it safe by sticking with a tried and true formula.
Backed by brilliant musicians with storied careers in the extreme metal scene, Memoriam keeps true to its heritage by delivering a barrage of brutal technical death metal. Although there’s a lack of creativity on display here and the album feels monotonous at times, fans of both Memoriam and Bolt Thrower should be delighted with the impeccable production here.
Written by Jonathan Berthold
*Edited by Dominic Abate