You dropped aplomb on me
Though my expectations for this were tempered by the similarity between Memoriam’s previous releases (and especially their sophomore album’s disheartening weariness), I’m happy to announce that this is not only their best work, but it happens to casually tower over most of its competitors in 2019’s extreme metal field. Prior to Requiem for Mankind, Memoriam’s sound was almost onomatopoeic. Like a former linebacker gone slightly to seed, Memoriam cut an imposing figure, but one that was clearly afield of its prime. Their expressions were dense and lumbering—heavy, yes, but heavy more in the way a thoroughly soaked bathmat is heavy—and Karl Willetts’ voice was blanched of much of its old authority. However, Requiem is far, far more fully developed, and infinitely more toothsome than expected. Blimey, do I love it!
Speaking to yours truly last year, Willetts described the title track of their previous album, The Silent Vigil, as Memoriam’s “Queensrÿche moment.” The band has dramatically expanded upon that euphonic tendency across the body of Requiem while simultaneously exaggerating the heaviness, as well as the urgency of Willetts’ sociopolitical message. Each tune lunges forward like a gator towards a calf, and Willetts—god bless him—sounds like he needs to be put the fuck down. He’s gloriously rabid here.
While I’d quibble with the Queensrÿche comparison, there’s a melodic charge that evokes a teenaged Anathema remixing Bolt Thrower, with just a sliver of the Exploited staked like a weather vane through the album’s heart. It’s a distinctly English formula, and an essential one at that. Never mind the rearview mirror—Memoriam have finally arrived. —Forrest Pitts