MemoryDrivenArtworkWe all have our dirty metal secrets that we selfishly keep to ourselves, only sharing with a select few close to us. Or alternatively, we incessantly talk up underground gems and spread the gospel to anyone that will listen, as we cherish our slice of underground cred. Into the Obscure aims to right the wrongs and unearth the artists/albums that for whatever unjust reason didn’t get the exposure or credit they sorely deserved the first time round.

Well before the birth of Memory Driven, guitarist/vocalist Dennis Cornelius established his presence as a prominent and undervalued force in the American doom scene over the better part of two decades. He stamped his talent and class on inspired releases from Revelation, the underrated Oversoul, Place of Skulls and the short-lived Dwell Within amongst others. Combining with several like-minded individuals following the disbandment of Dwell Within, Cornelius birthed his Memory Driven project with promising debut  Relative Obscurity in 2009, before returning two years later with exceptional sophomore album, Animus.

I fondly remember being turned onto Memory Driven courtesy of an informative and punchy review of Animus written by the excellent Rae Amitay (of Immortal Bird, Akrasia, Woods of Ypres & Thrawsunblat fame). First spin and I knew Memory Driven were something special and that impact hasn’t faltered in the intervening years, nor has my sense of bafflement regarding their criminally low profile. Animus carried forth elements from the debut, such as their glum, introspective take on trad doom and somber Alice in Chains-esque melodic sensibility, while expanding the band’s vision tenfold into sonically powerful and heart-wrenching new territory. There’s a significant progressive metal undertow and Seattle rock influence embedded into the album’s brooding melancholic atmosphere, forming something unique, memorable and truly special to behold.

Animus certainly doesn’t hold back on the heavier riffage and doomy slogs, however it’s the nuances of the extended instrumental sections and overall interplay between the musicians that sets the band apart, driving Memory Driven’s masterful progressive doom template. The crafty rhythm section and exceptional leads and harmonies interwoven from Cornelius and fellow axeman Chris Greenway are particularly noteworthy. Middle Eastern elements occasionally creep into the guitar work, adding further intrigue and exotic seasoning into Memory Driven’s musical recipe. Opener “Empty Gestures” unfurls gently via its gorgeous intro, paving the way for the song’s punishing riffs and gloomy melodies, showcasing Memory Driven’s slick songwriting dynamics and nerve-tweaking use of melody. Speaking of gloom, “Die to Breed” is a dense and dramatic number, choked with emotion and soul searching despair that stirs up plenty of feeling. Elsewhere, the cleverly titled “These Aren’t the Chords You’re Looking For” is the rare metal instrumental that goes toe-to-toe with the vocal driven songs. It’s a beautifully crafted and textured piece of jammy and melodic prog-doom packed with memorable guitar work and show-stopping basslines, segueing into later album highlights “A Tempt” and “Group Departure.”


Boasting another spellbinding intro, “A Tempt” comes stacked with terrific guitar interplay, soul squeezing melodies and probing basslines, counter-punched with crushing, anthemic doom riffs and emotion charged vocals.  Cornelius has a voice tailor made for doom and his smooth, authoritative timbre, careful phrasing and unique, warbled delivery brings a beguiling mix of vulnerability, heart-on-sleeve emotion and raw power. Sporting an immaculate production job, Animus sounds amazing, a masterclass in modern metal production. Every instrument is beautifully detailed and defined in the mix, boasting warm organic tones reinforced with plenty of sonic heft and dynamics.

I happened upon the band’s Facebook page recently and fresh signs emerged that Memory Driven may in fact be active again and returning for a third album. Fingers crossed they can add to their impressive and criminally overlooked legacy, as Animus is a colossal, deeply moving and sadly underappreciated progressive doom gem.

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  • Diego Molero

    This new feature is excellent, loved it already! Some of my gems are Disillusion – Back to Times of Splendor, and Lykathea Aflame – Elvenefris.

    P.S: in the first paragraph (without the explanation of the new feature), you wrote “two tears” and not “two years”, which sounds funny.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      That Lykathea record is stupidly good.

      • Luke_22

        Yep definitely a future candidate and great album. I only wish the drums sounded better.

        • Diego Molero

          That is true, the drums are awful to me. And the last track is unnecessary.

    • maurismind

      You are absolutely right! Both those albums are great, and Back To Times Of Splendor is the best and most beautiful progressive album I’ve ever heard! I remember once I was at a friend’s house listening to music with a group of people and I wanted to show them Disillusion, so I went and played the title track of BTTOS, the 14 minute long epic. It was the weirdest thing ever but what happened was that no one cared much for the song (though they turned it off half way through before the second part started) and the general consensus of the people in the room was that it sounded too much like Lamb of God… since then I tried to keep that album to myself as that truly hurt me, I don’t know if there was something wrong with the sound system or what, but that was a very humiliating moment for me. Regardless, I love that album so much, it made me really happy to see that they’ll release a new song this October, and the teaser for it sounded really cool. It’s one album I don’t think anyone deserves to know, I still try to share it with people when I can though.

      • Diego Molero

        The second part of that song is the best part! “too much like Lamb of God”, that’s absolutely crazy… For reasons like that is why I think twice before showing music to someone.
        I am too really excited for the new album, and I’m glad that the teaser is more Times of Splendor than Gloria.

        • maurismind

          It is! Also I meant to say it’s not an album everyone* (I wrote anyone by mistake at the end) deserves to known. I’m happy to see another fan of the band here! I’m not sure whether there’s an album coming along with the new song, but I’d love to have a new one. Agreed, the melodies of the teaser song have Times Of Spendor all over it, it’s fantastic. I don’t think I’m this excited for any other release this year, maybe for the new Aenaon album, as Extance was absolutely amazing :D

          • Diego Molero

            well it is true that they haven’t officially announced, but it’s been 10 years since Gloria, lots of activity on their Facebook, a new song coming, I am very positive there is a new album on the way.
            Haven’t heard of Aenaon, I’ll check them out, thanks!

          • maurismind

            you’re welcome, hope you dig their album! I hope they have a new album on the way, they’ve been saying that they’re making a new album since 2011 I think… Hopefully this time will be the real thing :)

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Been hoping for a segment like this for a while. Still got my fingers crossed for an album art-based segment sometime! Brilliant write-up.

    I am a tad surprised “Into the Obscvre” didn’t make the final cut though.

    • Too trendy!

      • Hulksteraus

        Not Kvlt enough

    • Kronos

      I’ve been trying to come up with a good format for an album art post/series, but It’s difficult to figure out what to do with it. Do I just pull out favorite art at random? That would be fun for me, but I want to generate good discussion, and maybe it’s better to comment on some recent releases with exceptionally interesting or well-crafted covers/design.

      • Diego Molero

        You could examine the albums art of an specific band and how they have evolved through their albums and what it means. For example: you could get into Jorn’s albums and why all the artworks sucks with the DJ raven and shit (or is it a crow? See, you tell us in that segment).

      • manimal

        Perhaps another way to look at it would be to take a look at the body of work of individual artists (the visual ones, not the band)? An article on, say, the album artwork of Alex Gray or HR Giger could be easier to write (and would probably be more coherent) than trying to stir up discussion on phallic imagery for the latest album by Oedipus and the Motherfckers.

        • Kronos

          I considered that type of format and it would be fun. The problem with this is that it takes a lot of work to track down, since a lot of album art goes basically uncredited unless you have the album in hand.

          • It would still be cool if it wasn’t a regular thing, but just something that comes up when art calls for it. It could be about controversive (Numenorean), classic (Eerie) or otherwise trends that could be clarified (the art of post-black metal, typical deathcore covers, or things like that). I’d love to read it.

          • Kronos

            It will come soon.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      That album art segment? I have the name for it and maybe even concept: “I bought it because of the cover”

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        That would be me with Solstafir’s “Otta”. Though I am happy to say the audio side of the album is basically a classic in my mind by this point in time.

        Without a doubt my favourite album artwork utilising the photographic medium.

  • GardensTale

    Oh, I know of an album or two that would definitely fit here. I’ve seen a woeful lack of appreciation for Subterranean Masquerade around here.

    • Hideous destructor

      Agreed. Also concur with lykathea aflame. My personal under appreciated gem is The Sense Apparatus by Frantic Bleep – any fans?

      • Hideous destructor

        Subterranean masquerade’s Suspended animation dreams is in my top ten albums of the ’00s.

        • GardensTale

          Same here! I actually managed to find it at the Wacken Open Air CD market at pretty much the very last stand I visited. And while I stared at it in disbelief he pulled out the Temporary Psychotic State EP too, which has a badass looking disc. The actual CD is the size of a mini disc (the half size CD’s that often contained hardware drivers) but with a clear plastic ring around it to normal size. The lettering is on parts of both the actual disc and the transparent ring. It’s fucking rad, can’t find a picture of it though.

          • Hideous destructor

            Interesting. I’ve got that ep but mine’s just a standard cd.

      • GardensTale

        Listening to it now and so far I like what I hear, thanks!

  • Syn

    This featured song is really good. Will explore further!

  • Ed Howard-Jones

    I love this new feature, I’m hoping there is lots more to come so I can bolster my ego knowing about all the happenings of the underground kvlt world.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    So, now you finally have a “hidden gems” section… Let’s start raining suggestions!
    How about Reverend’s “World Won’t Miss You”?

    • I like that album, but not sure it qualifies as a “hidden gem”.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Come on! One of the songs has the line “Demons grab your balls and make you scream”! That alone qualifies it as a hidden gem!

        • I’m a big fan of David Wayne and all, but I like the EP and the Play God album better.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            The song “Desperate” off “World Won’t Miss You” was used as the theme song for the only Metal show in radio when I was a teenager, so there’s that nostalgia connection that makes me have a soft spot for the album. That being said, there’s a reason the song was chosen as the theme song for the show and it’s most likely because it kicks ass with both feet.

          • I can relate to that. However, if there was going to be an Into the Obscure column on a Metal Church connected act, it would be Hall Aflame, which I already covered as a Retro-Review a few years ago. Now that was an awesome album!


          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I’ll check it out.

      • [not a Dr]

        Does DBC – Universe count as hidden?

  • OzanCan

    Is it too bad or too good to be rated? Not that I really care too much, but it caught my eye that there’s no rating in this review..

    • Kalsten

      I think that this section is like “Your metal is Olde” and the “Things that you have may missed”. They never put ratings on those too, only in the review of newly released material.

    • Further to Kalsten’s point, reviews for “Things that you may have missed” are considered to be 4.0 or above.

      • Technically the standard is 3.5 and above.

        • And this is what I get for not checking my references. :(

    • We don’t score these. We use this feature to point out older albums that are very good/great but still got missed by most.

      • OzanCan

        I see it now :)

  • Some albums to consider:
    Dead Beyond Buried — The Dark Era
    Fracture — Dominate And Overload
    Iron Thrones – The Wretched Sun
    Obliveon – Nemesis and/or Technicarnivore Mothermouth
    She Said Destroy — This City Speaks In Tongues

  • Fuck’s sake guys. It’s bad enough I’m buying a shit tonne of music because of the regular reviews. Now you’re encouraging me to buy stuff that was released years ago? Argh.

    Excellent review by the way. I went back and read Rae’s review as well, listened to the embedded track, then the Bandcamp stream, and I’ll be ordering a copy of the CD shortly.

    Thanks a bunch :P

  • The sample track is fucking excellent. Thanks for this L. Saunders – never would have found it otherwise! Off to check out the rest of their stuff I go…

  • Bart the Repairman

    The opening riff grabs my attention immediately, leads between 0:31 and 1:05 give me serious goosebumps, and then come lovely acoustic tones over clever drumming. As a cherry on the cake, the mix is brilliant – it makes me wanna roll the volume knob up.
    Thanks for the great start of the day!