Memoriam @ De Cacaofabriek, Helmond, 15 September 2017

As I wanted to see Vallenfyre as well and the nearest gigs for both them and Memoriam were on the same day, I had to travel a bit further to Helmond to see Memoriam. A band formed as a tribute to the way too early departed Martin Kearns, drummer of Bolt Thrower which also incurred the end of that band. Singer Karl Willetts re-united with former Bolt Thrower drummer Andy Whale, and Benediction bass player Frank Healey, and recruited Scott Fairfax for guitar duties. It is astonishing how quickly this became an actual band, recording new material, releasing an album and doing all the large summer festivals. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they even became the best selling death metal band this year. Anyway they went for a four club day tour in Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany.

The brought the band Fractured Insanity from Belgium with them. I had never really heard of them before, despite have released three albums already. Presumably because the music isn’t entirely my liking. The play technical, brutal death metal with a lot of difficult guitar and drum work. What mostly annoys me with this style is a complete lack of flow in the songs, it seems more like a cut-and-paste job in guitar pro which leads to songs that are never really memorable, yet technically very proficient. So all in all a bit of a dull band.

Then Memoriam. It took quite a while for them to set up, but eventually they got going. The intro from World At War sounded over the PA, and the band came one stage playing the opening track of the album, Memoriam. It was followed by War Rages On, one of the first songs they wrote. They even played a new song – Nothing Remains – and Karl said they were recording a new album later this year. They really are moving fast. They really seemed to be having a lot of fun on stage, which is great to see. Karl sounded pretty good, better than the youtube recordings I had seen. It was good to see Andy back behind the kit – I never had seen Bolt Thrower live while he was in the band unfortunately – and he sound quite steady. That is despite not having played for some twenty odd years. A couple of album songs followed, as well as a bunch of covers, first off was a Sacrilege cover (The UK death metal band), a band in which bass player Frank plays as well. Looking at his playing he seemed to play the bottom string most of the time; turns out he has his strings on his bass the other way around, the bottom string being the E string, instead of the top. Now that would make sense, he being a left handed bass player, if he played a right handed bass, but his bass was left handed anyway. Weird. Two Bolt Thrower covers were included in the set as well, played back to back. Starting off with Spearhead (from 1992, not 1994, as Karl said) and Powder Burns. And hence any comparison with Bolt Thrower is unavoidable. And that doesn’t turn out favorable for them. First off the second guitar is really missed during some section, but most of all I don’t really like the guitar sound Scott uses. There is some scratchy sound in it, that may be the Memoriam sound, it does little justice to the rather smooth playing style of Bolt Thrower. And the rather sloppy playing of Powder Burns melody lines don’t help either. Yet all in all a decent gig. They are not nearly as good as the mighty Bolt Thrower, yet they have developed a style of their own which is not much like Bolt Thrower, especially in the riff department, so in a way that is good. But they are not nearly as good as them. I can’t help thinking that they rose this fast primarily because whose in the band though.

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