1. Endeavor for Purpose
2. Hope Era
6. Not Fallen
7. My Path Is Set
10. Immaculate Design
It has been a whirl-wind year for Minnesota’s Your Memorial. After another solid performance at Minnesota’s Christian music festival Sonshine, Your Memorial was approached and signed by Facedown Records. They headed into the studio and recorded Atonement, their second full-length in only four years. Your Memorial’s debut album Seasons was very impressive, and combined with their intense live show backed by a hometown crowd, Facedown quickly snatched them up and added them to an already impressive roster.
Seasons was an aggressive collection of metal, fast-paced and in-your-face. Expectations would be that Atonement would only be better with the backing of a legit label and a few more seasons to mature. Almost immediately you can tell that Atonement is different, everything feels more deliberate and somewhat drawn out. Gone is the sweeping metal guitar-work replaced by ambient moody tones. Blake’s vocals are bigger and commanding, fitting the overall sound really well. The drumming isn’t reckless but almost restrained, more fills and less risk, less straight-ahead metal beats. Those expecting a metal album, perhaps Seasons part II, will not find that here. Atonement is more hardcore, post-hardcore, ambient metalcore maybe, and the direction is probably playing well to Your Memorial’s strength now that they are a four-piece.
With ten tracks on the album, there are 3 instrumental breaks spread throughout, something that was also a part of Seasons. Atonement is full of beautiful writing, some songs are introspective while others are songs of proclamation “I’m singing to You, I will scream Your Name again.” Songs like “Hope Era” offer positive encouragement “Your heart is meant for something great. I won’t stand by and watch you fall.” While some of these lyrics may sound like some of the same-old generic lyrics you find in Christian music, Your Memorial packages them up with visual foundations, lines like “A glimpse of perfection flooding over me, Your endless mercy deeper than any sea.” lyrics that have obviously been thought-out and hold deeper meaning to the writer than just merely filling a need.
A few tracks really stand-out as creative, tracks like “Surface” add clean vocals to the chorus and a meandering guitar lead throughout that give the track plenty of depth, then closes with a huge breakdown. “Unseen” is the closest Your Memorial get to their previous work with pounding drums, chugging guitars and a heavy breakdown. “Not Fallen” is probably the best track lyrically, and the music is very ambitious with atmospheric guitar-work on multiple layers. Other songs however seem to lack enough lead-work from the guitar leaving too much space for repetitive chugging guitars. Tracks like the opener “Endeavor For Purpose” and “Atonement” just left me wanting more.
OVERALL Having Facedown Records backing Atonement will introduce Your Memorial to a whole new listener base. When those listeners go back and check out Seasons they will find quite a different feel. Atonement is pretty good overall, attempting to forge into a new genre is always tough but Your Memorial have put together a good mix of serious, complex, heartfelt songs that should put them on the map. I’m going to miss the aggressive metal but the more I listen to Atonement, the more I enjoy it.