The Memory You've Become review by Ian Morrissey for Doom-metal.com
The unearthing of a hard-to-categorise, yet thoroughly enjoyable, Medieval Folk Doom re-release from the early '00s.
Quite a few labels have gotten into the habit of re-releasing old albums in a vain hope that they strike lucky by unearthing a purported gem. Based on the ones I’ve reviewed over the years, the approach doesn’t usually work. However, GS Productions have stumbled across In Somnis and re-released 'The Memory You’ve Become', which is an album I’ve owned for many years now. I’m delighted to see it given the chance to shine in front of people once more because this is a very enjoyable album.
The first thing to bear in mind about this album is that it has actually just been re-released, not remastered. Therefore, the production can be a bit tinny at times because it was originally recorded in 2003, some sixteen years ago. Things have progressed substantially since then so if this is the first time you’ll be listening to this album, be aware that the production is likely to require a bit of time to grow on you.
The second thing to bear in mind is that categorising this music is hard. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the hardest albums I’ve ever had to categorise. Technically speaking, it is Doom Metal - but it’s not a style I’m accustomed to hearing because of the Folk music that’s used in tandem with it. Stereotypically speaking, Doom Metal is supposed to be slow, heavy, and dark whereas Folk Metal/Folk music is supposed to be more uplifting, jovial, and fun. These two areas are polar opposites so simply hearing about this merger (without listening to it) would concern me greatly as I wouldn’t have been able to envision it working.
However, having listened to it many times over the years, I can assure you that it does indeed work. It’d be fair to say that the listener would need to be quite broad-minded in order to like an album like this though. For example, the vocals are sometimes sang and sometimes growled in low fashion. The music itself generally maintains the same slow pace but can be organ-driven, piano-driven, flute-driven, and even unleash the odd guitar solo. Technically speaking, I cannot fault this album at all. It’s very apparent to me that the musicianship is very good. The contrasting styles on the album leaves me in no doubt whatsoever that some will love 'The Memory You’ve Become' and some will hate it.
In my little world, this is a very good release. It’s unique in its style. It’s been meticulously created by very talented musicians, who have engineered an almost medieval atmosphere with losing any of the forlorn tragedy that their Doom Metal side depicts. The one amusing comparison I’ll make here is that it sounds like the kind of music that should have been playing in 'Monty Python And The Holy Grail' just before Lancelot stormed the castle and murdered numerous guests.
The only bands I can even loosely compare In Somnis to are Latvia’s Skyforger and Norway’s Windir. Skyforger don’t enter the realm of Doom Metal - and nor do Windir - but there are similarities with the style of music/vocals utilised. In Somnis are basically one of a kind, and I wish they’d have done more than one release so I could see where they went after 'The Memory You’ve Become'. C’est la vie, though.
My sole critique of this album is that I don’t know what mood this album fits. If you’re like me and listen to music based upon your mood, it’d be difficult to find a moment where this album would be played because of the starkly contrasting styles. Other than that though, I find this to be a very good and enjoyable release that everybody should at least try.