Surrounded (By Death)

War obsessed death metal troop Memoriam only formed in 2016, but last weekend their debut album For the Fallen was released by Nuclear Blast records. 

The West Midlands quartet might be less than two years old, but they have a plethora of experience to back up their stratospheric rise. Between them they have been involved in bands since the mid 80’s and released dozens of albums with the likes of Benediction, Sacrilege, Cerebral Fix and the mighty Bolt Thrower. 

Memoriam were formed as a tribute to Bolt Thrower drummer Martin ‘Kiddie’ Kearns who passed away in September 2015. That event effectively signalled the end for the legendary British death metal band and the attentions of vocalist Karl Willets turned to this reluctant super group. 

In the live arena and throughout the album you get the feeling that this could have finally been Bolt Thrower’s ninth album in their thirty year existence. It’d be interesting to know if any of this material was potentially part of the alleged scrapped album. 

Their appearance at the Glasgow Barrowlands on Saturday will be only their sixth show (as far as I am aware) and their third on British soil, and I’ve managed to experience all three. This year sees that figure expand exponentially as they are scheduled to perform at a slew of European festivals during the summer with a few more low key UK dates slotted in. 

With only a disappointing thirty minute set to fill at the weekend it will be interesting to see what gets altered after their headline show at the Asylum in Birmingham just before Christmas. The eight track album on its own is almost forty five minutes long and they’ve reflected on their heritage by slotting in a couple of Bolt Thrower tracks and a Sacrilege cover at shows. 

After all these years it seems a bit surreal having two bands playing the circuit and both having Sacrilege songs in their repertoire. Bass player Frank Healey is in the ranks of Memoriam whilst guitarist Damian Thompson is plying his trade with Warwound, who have rerecorded an old Sacrilege track, with Tam singing for the first time in decades, for their forth coming debut album (which sounds mighty fine). If those two bands ever ended up in the same show together it could be something to behold. 

It’s also nice to see Memoriam keeping things fan friendly in this day and age and continuing the low cost ethics that Bolt Thrower were renowned for. The above mentioned Birmingham show cost a fiver to get in. I think shirts at that show were £10 and they’ve said shirts at the Glasgow show will be £15. A lot of the gigs I’ve attended recently seem to carry a £25 – £30 price tag for a shirt. At the Netherlands DeathFest earlier in the month most shirts cost €20, apart from the heading band Abbath who were charging €30. Surprisingly they were probably the only band with a significant amount of merchandise left on the Sunday evening. 

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