The Silent Vigil is the second album from the British death metal band Memoriam, whose lineup includes former members of bands such as Bolt Thrower and Benediction. Bassist Frank Healy gives us the scoop on the album, touring, the state of death metal and more.
Chad Bowar: How did your emotional and musical approach to The Silent Vigil compare to For The Fallen?
Frank Healy: We didn’t really have a conscious musical approach to compare as we are constantly writing new songs. So it is a continuous ﬂow, really. There was no cut off point between the ﬁrst and second album in that sense. Just like now, we are a few songs into album number three and still writing new stuff before The Silent Vigil has even been released.
Lyrically though, is a different story. Karl’s lyrics have more anger and vitriol on this album, which stems from the ﬁrst track that was written after For The Fallen, which was “Nothing Remains.” It deals with his mother’s rapidly deteriorating state due to aggressive dementia. The frustration, heartbreak and anger of those lyrics has spilled over onto other tracks, so most of the album is dealing with subjects that anger us.
With how well received your debut was, did you feel any added pressure going into this one?
I don’t think we feel any pressure at all, to be honest. We are not a career band so don’t really feel that pressure to make a great follow up to the last album. We just make what we are happy making! If people like it then great, but I’m not going to lose too much sleep if they don’t as it’s just four blokes getting together and making music just for the joy of it. We’ve had those pressures in our other bands when we were younger. Nowadays I’m more concerned about my garden and what time the pub opens. It is great when people also like what you are doing though, it’s just that the pressure thing you are on about just doesn’t really exist with us. It’s another album is all, not a life or death situation.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
This one was a bit difﬁcult at stages due to our own doings. We are very set in our ways and know exactly what we want an album to sound like. That can be a bit of a pain for a producer who has certain ways of doing things. We got it sorted in the end though and I think it has turned out quite well. So, my strongest memory of recording The Silent Vigil is thank fuck that’s done, let’s get started on album number three!
How has the band’s style evolved on this one?
I’m not sure I can be really objective about how we have musically evolved, if at all. Because we continuously write all the time it just ﬂows like a river, so I don’t see an invisible line to enable me to compare the two albums. Thinking quickly about it though, I think this is a darker album music wise as are the lyrics.
What lyrical subjects did you cover this time around?
The lyrics on this album deal a lot more with anger, vitriol and hatred. We cover everything from nationalism, dementia, governments, ignorance and politics in general. Karl is at the age where he does not give a fuck what people think about his lyric subjects and is using his soap box to full effect.
Even with your previous experience, gaining awareness and traction for a new band can be difficult. What has surprised you most about this process?
For us personally, how quick it all came easily together and how so much has happened to us in such a short span of time. We’ve done four singles and two albums in under two years and there is still more to come hopefully. On top of that we have done a lot of shows. It really has happened so quick and we are so busy enjoying it all that we have not really had time to sit back and assess what has occurred in our short band lifespan so far.
What has been your most memorable Memoriam live show so far?
I think our club shows are the most memorable as the more intimate atmosphere seems to bring out the best in us. Festivals are great for a big audience to get your music to, but the small club shows are your crowd alone that have speciﬁcally come to see Memoriam and it shows in the crowd reaction which in turn we feed off live. There is no single speciﬁc show in that respect, more an atmosphere.
You’ve done mostly festivals and weekend shows. Any plans of doing a full-fledged tour or coming to North America?
Memoriam have no intention at the moment of doing any full blown touring. We have families and like our time with them so we will stick to festivals and weekends away. Which in a way answers you about North America. I cannot see us having time to get out there in 2018 as most of the year is already booked up. Sorry!
One of your new songs is “The New Dark Ages.” With the state of the world today, is society actually devolving instead of progressing? How do we reverse course?
From where I am standing it looks like it’s devolving. There is so much panic mongering and misinformation and general deceiving coming from the powers that be that we are being conned into voting for things we don’t understand the implications of the outcome. We have a world being run at the moment by fucking nut cases!They are purely in it for their own well being and fuck the gullible people who voted them in as well as the ones who didn’t. Until the public sees through all the bullshit and learns more about the intentions of those they vote in worldwide then we are fucked.
It seems death metal is making a resurgence, with 2017 seeing both older and newer bands releasing a lot of quality albums. What younger band(s) do you see carrying the genre into the next generation?
I’ve not really noticed any change in popularity, I just toddled along through the decades playing metal and taking no notice of changing trends in our genre. I tend not to listen to much death metal at home. I write it, rehearse it, record it and go out and play it live. The last thing I want to do is go home and listen to it as well! So I am not the best person to ask what bands are coming through in death metal, what I do know is there are still young, angry bands out there
that will shine through, there always will be and more power to them. Somebody has to take over from us old men, yes?
(interview published March 21, 2018)