Memorial Roots: Re-Rooted
If there’s one record that never really struck well with me, it was this one. I remember giving it a listen and just finding that it wasn’t all that swift, which leads me into this remixed and remastered edition where the band have attempted to appease fan requests for a heavier overall mix. The fact of the matter is that several of these cuts are mainstays on the band’s live set list, and the guys felt that the record should match the energy of the rest of their material. From what I recall, this record released just after the crushing (and still crushing) Downburst (‘08) and was a definite change of pace from that style, like Dream Theater’s Octavarium shockingly appearing after the band’s heaviest overall effort, Train Of Thought. Things like this just happen sometimes and you can’t really blame the band for trying new things, especially considering how much of a monster the previous record had been. I can say that of several power metal albums, nothing really hits harder for me than the majority of material on Downburst. It was a well-celebrated album, which seems to have left fans completely confused after the release of this one. Though that is probably because it can be compared to Liquid Monster which is the band’s only low-note in a practically untarnished career.
You definitely have to give the band proper recognition for this remixed version, which certainly brings an unexpected amount of heaviness in where it was once quite vacant. From listening to the album I can certainly say that they’ve applied the Downburst formula into the mix here, hoping that they can magically resuscitate the disc into something resembling one of their greatest efforts. I can also say that if you don’t remember the original or have never heard it, it might be worth giving this remixed album a try. Why? Because it is actually heavier. Not just heavy, but with choral punches that I didn’t even know existed until the right bit of chunk came into place. While this kind of treatment might not be totally necessary and feels kind of forced in a way, it certainly makes for a much better overall listening experience that I would have ever expected. From what I thought was originally a rather weak album, this disc has delivered one hit after another. I swear, I do not remember even a quarter of these songs hitting as hard as they do now and that to me is quite refreshing. When I first heard Memorial Roots, I only found two tracks (“The Conjunction Of 7 Planets” and “Nailed Down Dreams”) noteworthy, but I’d certainly have to change my opinion after hearing this new mix. It’s really that good, folks. So even if what we’re hearing here might be a bit forced, it came out relatively fantastic.
Despite the record being much meatier and filled with far more intricate solo efforts than I remember, it still seems to capture the nature of it’s more somber sense of purpose. Listeners will still hear slight bits of the orchestration and proggy keyboard elements that made their way into this odd effort, just coupled with a much harder edge that might actually appeal to Brainstorm fans now. All joking aside, I feel that the band have uprooted more than a few troublesome weeds here and planted a heavy metal garden that doesn’t necessarily take away from the spirit of this record as a whole. Memorial Roots is definitely louder now, but it packs more punch within its original experimentation to really leave a mark on those like myself who considered it just another drop in the bucket. The disc literally sounds like it can stand toe-to-toe with some of the act’s greatest works, and feels like a brand new Brainstorm record in itself. It’s pretty safe to say that Brainstorm have always been a favorite band of mine and doing something like this certainly only raises them up another notch in my book. Unfortunately, I still don’t feel that the album’s main single “Forsake What I Believed” is as strong as several of the other cuts on this disc, especially newly unexpected standouts like “Cross The Line” and “The Final Stages Of Decay” which certainly feel like some of the best cuts that this band have ever released.
It’s safe to say that Memorial Roots is now The Grim Lord approved, and it also comes with four extra tracks from the original recording sessions which did not appear on the original album, which is a nice bonus. These add nearly twenty minutes to the overall performance, which is certainly not a problem for me. More Brainstorm is always better than less, after all. Seeing how well this turned out, maybe it will convince other bands to go back and rework some of their less-respected albums. Perhaps Morbid Angel can fix Illud Divinum Insanus and Lars can fix the garbage can drumming on St. Anger… and that’s only the beginning, isn’t it?