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.
“We needed to move on,” Healy reflects. “To find closure and peace of mind. To express the sadness and get it out in the open. The formation of MEMORIAM and the music we created was the vehicle for me. To get all that emotion laid down is the perfect way to make a permanent tribute to those we loved and lost. It is a happy ending for me as MEMORIAM gave me the outlet to grieve. [To] make something positive from all the sadness.”
“MEMORIAM was born from darkness,” continues Willetts. “For me, it was a choice of sinking deep into a pit of misery and despair, waiting for something to happen. [I had that choice] or to get on with life and try and create something positive from the experience. From the darkness comes light, from the sadness comes joy, from the despair comes hope. This is MEMORIAM.”
While the unwelcome silencing of guns long firing ultimately led to the formation of MEMORIAM, the origin story also has a more prosaic side. For a good 20 years, Healy and Willetts had always dreamed of having a band together. A band that was neither BENEDICTION nor BOLT THROWER, but one that was predicated on the same old-school ideals the two musicians shared. With BOLT THROWER on ice, Willetts was now free to pursue other musical interests. And with BENEDICTION out of the write-record-tour cycle, Healy also had time for new ventures. The problem, however, was finding a drummer. Whale, who had retired from music after BOLT THROWER’s »…For Victory« full-length, was a close friend of Willetts. Convincing the former drummer to pick up sticks again was likely going to be an uphill battle, but after a pint or two at a local Birmingham bar, Whale agreed to join his age-old friends in MEMORIAM. The trio originally had settled on playing covers of their favorite songs by bands that inspired them. The cover band concept was scuttled, however, in favor of a full band, with Fairfax -who literally had a bunker full of riffs and had also performed as a session guitarist for BENEDICTION – on guitar, composing originals.