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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Reviews: Memoriam, Anewrage, Havok (Reviews By Paul)

Memoriam: For The Fallen (Nuclear Blast)

If like me you were lucky enough to have seen Bolt Thrower before their untimely but totally understandable cessation in 2015, you will have been waiting for this release with a real sense of anticipation. The Hellfire Demos certainly whet the appetite and Memoriam’s pre-Christmas show at The Asylum in Birmingham demonstrated that the band were the real deal in the live arena. However, the arrival of their debut album, For The Fallen is the acid test. And it does not fail in any aspect. The reunion of Karl Willetts and former Bolt Thrower drummer Andrew Whale elicits many memories but this is not a trip down memory lane.

As Willetts stated recently in Terrorizer, “This is a new band and we’ll do things our way”. With the addition of Benediction bassist Frank Healy and live guitarist Scott Fairfax, Memoriam contains enough fire power to destroy anything in their path. Opening track Memoriam is a real statement of intent, a crushing brooding beast which segues neatly into the now familiar War Rages On. This is a mesmerising track, full of power and bone crushing riffs. Willetts has added a little melody to his death metal growl but this merely enhances a truly magnificent vocal performance. Reduced To Zero is a slower, muscular track, one of four on the album clocking in at way over six minutes.

The punk infused battery of Corrupted System follows, Whale’s spine crushing drumming making a mockery of the fact that the guy hadn’t been in a studio for the best part of two decades. A statement about the current political shambles, Corrupted System is razor sharp, pacey and just full throttle. Flatline is next, a huge chunky slab of old school extreme death metal, Whale and Healy holding the song together whilst Fairfax unleashes some brutal slicing guitar. The song also contains an almost Slayer like chug in the middle section, evil and atmospheric whilst retaining the heaviness expected. The speed increases for the next two, with Surrounded By Death possibly the best three minutes you’ll hear this year.

Crashing power chords, ball shattering bass drumming and Willetts once again delivering in his own inimitable style. The change of pace is impressive, allowing you little time to draw breath until the final beat. It’s far from over though with the might of Resistance crashing straight in, the memorable riff both familiar and refreshingly new. Album closer Last Words is emotionally charged but holds no prisoners with a charging gallop. At close to nine minutes it is a fitting closing track, epic in both construction and delivery.

It's been over 11 years since Bolt Thrower’s For Those Once Loyal was released. It’s good to have Willetts and Whale back delivering the goods. For The Fallen lives up to all the expectations. Quite magnificent. 10/10

Anewrage: Life Related Symptoms (Scarlet Records)

This is album number 2 for the Milan based outfit and if you enjoy the alt-rock scene then it’ll probably be something to get hold of. It’s full of chunky rhythmic changes, beautifully clean vocals and some intense guitar work. There is a whole range of influences cascading through Life Related Symptoms, with djent style bass work, all leaping and driving very noticeable. Evolution Circle for example swings into nu-metal territory and splashes a bit of grunge into your face whilst Linkin Park spring to mind on Floating Man.

The overall atmosphere is one of melancholic and misery, something that sits comfortably within the genre. Axel Capurro and Mauel Sanfilippo’s intricate guitar work is never lost in the mix whilst Capurro’s clean voice really gives this release a bit extra. Bits of Soundgarden and the Deftones drift in and out but Anewrage are far from a tribute band. Their compositions are crafted and well-constructed. A very interesting release and worth a listen. 8/10

Havok: Conformicide (Century Media)

It’s been four years since Denver thrash quartet Havok released Unnatural Selection. Conformicide captures the best of Megadeth and Exodus thrown into a snarling mosh pit and vomited out at 100mph. Fast, furious and spectacularly old school. David Sanchez’s vocals sit somewhere between Bobby “Blitz” Ellesworth and Steve Souza. You’ll either love or hate them. New boy on board is Nick Schendzielos whose bass lines are running riot throughout. Otherwise, Havok deliver exactly what you’d expect. It’s solid thrash metal with chunky riffs, enormous stomping sections and flat out speed. However, when you compare Conformicide to this year’s fantastic offerings from Overkill and Kreator, both 30 year plus veterans you realise that Havok have a way to go before they get to the Premier League. 6/10

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