There is nothing better than an album that hits hard, no matter the situation, and Momento Mori, the sophomore album from British Columbians Hail The Void, fits that bill to a T. The powerful riffs and soaring vocals coax the morning blues out of your system when you need a lift, whilst the gritty lyrics bring you back down to earth when you’re feeling more introspective. Marrying elements of the doom greats of the past with the current wave of psychedelia which is capturing listeners like myself, the track variation is sublime, yet leans heavily on their strengths at all times.
Right from the off, Hail The Void captures you with a distortion-soaked opener that paints a mental billboard, shouting BIG RIFFS AHEAD. Yet even on relistens, this intro track has you screaming along with the ethereal vocals that penetrate the guitar feedback. Tapering off towards the end, as “Writing On The Wall” kicks in, you realise the necessity of this gritty track. Reminding me heavily of Witchcraft‘s track “Nucleus”, it blossoms from a metered introduction into a full-blown avalanche of riffs, supplementing the listener with plenty to headbang to. The vocal hooks are kick-ass, paired delightfully alongside the crashing cymbals and titanic guitars, this is one hell of an opening track.
Vocally, Hail The Void reminds me loads of the aforementioned Witchcraft, yet they also have the power and excitement of Boss Keloid, with epic singalong moments in the vocal hooks, which will translate so fucking well live. The range of vocalist Kirin is amazing, injecting ample amounts of comfort and vengeance all at once. The lyrical content is gritty at times, with the Latin motto of the album ‘Remember that you must die‘, yet that certainly doesn’t detract from the epic doom.
“Talking To The Dead” is a relentless track, with the thundering riffs hardly letting up the whole way through. As a mid-album track, it is perfect, driving shitloads of energy into the listener and ensuring the psychedelic leanings of its adjacent tracks do not become too overwhelming. “High and Rising”, the track that follows, is the best on the album. Formulaically, it is a bread-and-butter track, with clear lines between chorus and verse, but the contrast hits like a train. The vocal hooks are excellent to shout along to and bang your head to, whilst the downtempo verses give you respite. The excellent guitar solo just past the middle of the track is bonkers, with licks flying off the guitar at quantum speed.
Hail The Void‘s self-titled debut album was critically acclaimed, with the album even picking up accolades as album of the year by a few sites. Listening back, it is very easy to see how Memento Mori will top that, and more. Certainly considering how the current wave of doom and psych is penetrating more markets and winning applause from metalheads across the spectrum, the raw talent on show in Memento Mori will win the band many new fans. The song-writing is fun, the musical talent is excellent.
What would I love to see? The introduction had some pretty desperate, fucked up vocals. Pairing those with some of their softer tracks like the closing track “The Void” or “100 Pills” would make for some interesting variety, even if levied within a track. Either way, these guys are going to be hoovering up a shitload of applause with Memento Mori. Be sure to catch them live, because this will no doubt slap two shades of shit out of you!