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Album Reviews : Memoriam – For The Fallen

By on March 9, 2017

MemoriamFormer Bolt Thrower front man, Karl Willets, needs no introduction to those with even a passing interest in death metal. Willets is back with a new band, a familiar sound and most importantly… the most articulate vocal stylings in death metal.

On For the Fallen Willetts is joined by a selection of Britain’s finest death metal musicians. Benediction string section Scott Fairfax (guitar) and Frank Healy (bass) present a formidable stomp not too dissimilar to the mid-paced demolition issued by Obituary’s Trevor Peres and Frank Watkins (RIP). Bolt Throwers first drummer, Andrew Whale, makes a welcome return to partner Willets. Given Whale left Bolt Thrower in ’95 after recording the outstanding …For Victory (‘94), it’s a solid partnership that has once again yielded a superb outcome.

I was given the opportunity to chat to the extraordinarily congenial Willets on Valentine’s Day this year. In the years since his last Australian visit in ’93, aside from fronting Bolt Thrower he also obtained a degree in Cultural Studies from the University of Birmingham.

How much of his education informed the song writing on For the Fallen? Plenty according to the man himself: “A lot of deconstruction and critical theory was involved in completing the course. It tied into the kind of lyrics that I tend to like as well. I’m quite a critical analyser of the world around us.”

During our chat, it is Willets grasp of some of the more prominent global political issues that occupied much of our allocated time. Talking in a relaxed manner and without a hint of malice he stated that “… I’ve got to that point in my life where I don’t really give a fuck what other people think about what I think. And I’m quite prepared to stand up in the pulpit and say what I think these days.” Both “Corrupted System” and “Reduced to Zero” contain lyrics that indirectly address the rise of the right-wing ideology and the general lurch in the world towards nationalism, xenophobia, hatred and fear. “Corrupted System” is a track that sounds as though it could even have been a cover of some long-lost early Cro-Mags classic.

I am going to assume it was producer Ajeet Gill who also mixed the album. Gill is without question one of the most promising sound men in the business based on his efforts on For the Fallen. Willets vocal benefits enormously from Gill’s crystal clear production. The final mix which I understand the band laboured over, lends itself to all manner of Hi-Fi applications… For the Fallen is one of those rare death metal albums that I feel comfortable playing through my Jeep’s less than competent sound system. I can hear every nuance in the band’s sound and Willets trademark vocal is a welcome compliment to the deep growl of a 6,059 cc Hemi engine.

Don’t get the idea that For the Fallen is anything other than a death metal album, written by a death metal band for death metal fans. Fairfax’s chugging sonance is purpose built for the fabled genre. Like so many extreme metal guitarists he has ploughed a career relatively unnoticed… in a parallel dimension he’d be a celebrated icon of the six string.

For the Fallen is an album more than capable of enhancing the legacy established by both Bolt Thrower and Benediction.

Band: Memoriam
Album: For The Fallen
Year: 2017
Genre: Death Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Origin: United Kingdom


Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith