When BOLT THROWER drummer Martin “Kiddie” Kearns passed in his sleep on September 14th, 2015, the members of Britain’s longest standing death metal band were absolutely bereft. Three weeks after, bassist Frank Healy, of UK death metal legends BENEDICTION, lost his father. All that sorrow left a massive hole in the hearts and minds of the Midlanders. The untimely demise of Kearns forced BOLT THROWER to go on an indefinite hiatus, while Healy was seven years removed from BENEDICTION’s last full-length, »Killing Music«. Key members of both bands needed an out. A way to cope with the emotional hardship. So, vocalist Karl Willetts and Healy teamed up with ex-BOLT THROWER drummer Andy Whale and riff-master Scott Fairfax to form MEMORIAM.
The crown jewel of MEMORIAM’s achievement is, of course, debut album, »For The Fallen«. Recorded over two weeks at Hellfire Studios with producer Ajeet Gill, »For The Fallen« has a massive yet underground sound – somewhere between yet beyond »Transcend The Rubicon« and »The IVth Crusade«. It’s the kind of full-length that’s a rarity today. From ripping opener in ‘War Rages On’ to midway killer ‘Flatline’ to the epic closer ‘Last Words’, »For The Fallen« has a classic yet contemporary sound. While fans and critics can appreciate the end results, getting it right took four weeks of mixing and re-mixing.
“It took some time for us to get the final mix exactly how we wanted,” Willetts reveals. “We had a specific sound that we had in mind and it was difficult to translate that idea into the final mix. But we got there in the end. I think that as we have all been around for some time and knew exactly what we wanted from the album it took us a bit longer than we anticipated to achieve this, but we are really pleased with the final product and the hard work that we all put into its creation has really paid off.”
If MEMORIAM’s first mostly pivots to attack mode, then conceptually and lyrically it centers on the unfortunate effects of what happens after, whether it’s the pain and sorrow of losing close friends and family or touching upon war and how it has and will continue to shape humanity. The title »For The Fallen«, for example, is a tribute to the lost. The song ‘Reduced To Zero’ is an observation on the sad state of our world today. ‘Last Words’, featuring Lynda “Tam” Simpson (SACRILEGE), is written from the perspective of a soldier in the trenches during WWI just before the call for battle. And ‘Surrounded By Death’ is, more or less, self-explanatory. Clearly, inspiration wasn’t lost on Willetts during »For The Fallen«’s writing sessions.
“The lyrics build on what I have created in the past,” says Willetts. “However, I feel that the delivery of the lyrics is somewhat different from what I have created in the past and I am proud of that. The experience of losing Martin was the catalyst for all this to happen and forms the constant theme throughout the album. The lyrics come from a place of sorrow and grief yet I feel that they display a joy of life and an acceptance of what has happened. I think Martin would be chuffed to know that I am doing MEMORIAM and still have the desire and the fire in my belly to carry on. His presence is with us within the songs and the lyrics; it feels like the big man is with us still smiling.”