Experience and time can do wonderful things, especially for a Metal band. For example, take MEMORIAL’s debut release, “In The Absence Of All Things Sacred”. The band has been around for over a decade and this is their debut full recording. Honestly, it shows with their material. Where most bands tend to still be wallowing in their influences on their debut a little too much, MEMORIAL has already forged a unique sound and mature song writing. Experience and time has done this band wonders for their debut.
Combining elements of Death and Thrash Metal with significant Groove and Post Thrash skills, MEMORIAL are some of the best of both worlds. More alike some modern Groove bands than anything else, fans of CHIMAIRA or THE HAUNTED are going to want to pick up this debut right away. If you don’t like the Post Thrash movements then I suggest skipping this one, while I for one am going to keep this on my rotation for a while.
“In The Absence Of All Things Sacred” is filled with all kinds of Groovy goodness. Down-tuned and crunchy riffs masked with swing heavy, snare driven drumming make up the foundation of the majority of the songs and even take the limelight (see the bridge section on “Till Its Over”) occasionally. At times I hear a little bit of new school CARCASS creep into the riff writing and that already puts the band towards the awesome chapter in my book. Leads and significant soloing tend to be used in the minority for MEMORIAL, although it doesn’t hinder the great balance of tempo shifts and superior song writing that easily make up for what a solo normally accomplishes in Heavy Metal. The last song “My Creation” does use quite a bit of guitar melody in the mix, specifically in its intro, so if you wanted more of that, skip to that track.
The bass work is prominent in the mix and the structuring for MEMORIAL, but since they are Groove Metal this isn’t a surprise, and his work with the ‘heavy guitar’ holds its own against the mass of the groove riffs and drumming, which gives the band a great foundation of structure and polyrhythmatic writing.
Honestly, my one major complaint against this album was the recording for vocalist Neil Poulsen. His style of the guttural barking that is commonly used in Groove Metal could have used a little sharper production because at times the energy of his rhythm-influenced delivery is pulled inward instead of outward. The same problem was heard with Randy Blythe on early LAMB OF GOD recordings but once he got a bit of a hold on how to record his voice then the problem was solved. I advise the same for MEMORIAL to try some new things on the recording of the vocals as it could add a world of new layering to his otherwise stellar performance.
To say it straight up, I loved this debut from MEMORIAL. “In The Absence Of All Things Sacred” is right up there with some of the greats in the genre already and if their experience paid off so significantly with this release, then I definitely want to hear more from these riff lords.
Songs to check out: “The Last Curtain Call”, “Walk With The Fallen”, “No Joy Remains”.
(Online March 7, 2009)