Album Review: Flyleaf – Memento Mori
Release Date: November 10, 2009
Record Label: A&M/Octone
Memento Mori is Flyleaf’s first full length album since their 2005 self-titled debut. Immediately, with the heavy groove of “Beautiful Bride,” Flyleaf makes a clear statement that they are not going to rest on the laurels of their Platinum-certified first album.
The band’s sound is incredible on this album. Much of the focus of this is on the vocals and guitar. Lacey does not scream as much, and her vocals have never sounded better. She seems to have more power and control. Sameer Bhattacharya and Jared Hartmann have an excellent sense of interplay and established a great sound on the previous album, Flyleaf, but expand that relationship further and then dismantle any and all other preconceptions of Flyleaf’s sound on this album. All the while, Pat Seals and James Culpepper continue to support all of it as a very solid rhythm section.
The production of Memento Mori is very ambitious. Once again the band has tapped the talents of Producer Howard Benson. There are a lot of textures and sounds that occasionally seem like they should be in conflict but actually serve to create something fairly unique. Many of the songs also run into each other (no gaps between tracks). There are a couple spots where distracting production techniques might have been used differently, but the issues are few and minor.
Along with “Beautiful Bride,” there are several other very heavy songs on the album. “Chasm” is probably my favorite track. It’s heavy and rich sounding with a guitar riff that’s right out of the King’s X handbook. “In The Dark” has a real metal-edge to the instrumentation while Lacey sings over it beautifully. “Swept Away” is chaotic; Mourning Widows meets Rage Against the Machine.
The albums heavy moments are well balanced with some more accessible fare. “Again” will probably be the most familiar sounding song, and is comparable to the band’s earlier work. With “Missing” and “The Kind” the bands strives to achieve more of a pop-punk style of sound, and “This Close” blends an interesting riff-centric groove with lighter verses and a soaring chorus.
Two other notable tracks include “Set Apart This Dream”, a big lush song, and “Tiny Heart”, one of the more laid back songs. “Tiny Heart” has a structure strongly reminiscent of The Beatles, and flows directly into “Melting” which is clearly a nod to”A Day In The Life.”
Memento Mori closes with three solid and straight-forward songs; “Treasure,” “Circle,” and “Arise.” The latter, “Arise” has a vibe like “Again,” and with lyrics like “hold on to the world we all remember fighting for” provides a fitting wrap-up to the album’s the themes. This album is surprising and very good (which is actually not too surprising).
- “Beautiful Bride”
- “This Close”
- “The Kind”
- “In The Dark”
- “Set Apart This Dream”
- “Swept Away”
- “Tiny Heart”
- “Melting (Interlude)”
Disc 2 (Deluxe Edition):
- “Break Your Knees”
- “Have We Lost”
- “Who Am I”