Memoremains – The Cost of Greatness Review

Pop metal. Sure. Why not. Sorry, hang on, I missed a crucial detail there. Finnish pop metal. Sure! Why not? Frankly, as much as I may have misgivings about the style, pop is generally meant to be a cheery style and right now I could use some cheer, because this month has seriously sucked on just about every level and, frankly, I’m getting tired of catharsis. So I’m turning away from doom for a second, turning up the speakers, loading up The Cost of Greatness, and am ready for my self-prescribed dose of artificial happiness (non-drug category). So bring it on, Memoremains. Bring. It. On.

That was probably a bad phrase to use, as “Bring it On” is neither the album opener, nor the first track proper, but the fact that there is a song with that title here probably tells you a lot about The Cost of Greatness. Upbeat, punchy, and catchy, there is definitely a 2000’s-era pop tune comfortably resting in the melodies of “Bring it On.” This is even more true of “Eternal Fame,” which reminds me comfortably and nostalgically of Cascada, of all things1. This is another song that leans heavily on the pop side of the formula, with guitar riffs and bass wrestling for prominence in the low end of the mix. Ordinarily, I’d think of this as a very bad thing, but I find it isn’t much of a detractor; yes, I prefer my riffs a touch more inventive than this, but the stringed instruments of Memoremains are clearly here and designed to act as hefty supporting players for most of the album.

This is a decision that mostly works well across The Cost of Greatness, as tracks like “Lift Me Up” and “Theme Park” are meant to be upbeat and catchy. Most of the album features big synthesizers and a strong vocal performance as its veritable earworms. As a result, the album’s “metal” moments mainly exist in the album’s feel, which is darker than your average slice of disco. The synths break mainly for ballad tracks like “Mindreader,” but on the closing title track, the band shows that they are perfectly capable of writing more serious metal, as the ten-minute closer is just as well-made as your average symphonic metal “epic.” It heavily dials back on the synthesizers and lets other band members shine. Clearly, Memoremains knows that ten full minutes of cheesy, catchy extravaganzas will only lead to burnout.

Of course, if it’s true for the ten-minute closer, it’s true for the forty-six-minute album too, and this is where my primary criticism for The Cost of Greatness emerges. Memoremains have to walk a very fine line between catchiness and overexposure, so that the album can be continually interesting without eventually descending into self-quotation. Power metal, symphonic metal, and pop music all have this same problem, and unfortunately, I don’t think The Cost of Greatness walks the line very gracefully. The aforementioned tracks are all standouts, but most of the other cuts are easy to forget, not because they’re bad in any way, but because of how much of the album is dominated by over-the-top symphonic cheese. The result is a deceptively uneven album that is simultaneously enjoyable and forgettable. The standout tracks – “Eternal Fame,” “Lift Me Up,” and “Theme Park” in particular – are really promising, and Memoremains shows serious promise throughout, but my feelings are ultimately mixed.

Still, while The Cost of Greatness is not an album I am likely to return to in full anytime soon, I did get my hoped-for dose of fun. Memoremains manage to infuse catchy, Euro-symphonic leanings into their music without sacrificing heart, and I think this is something worthy of highlighting. Contrasting with an album like Amaranthe‘s self-titled debut, I don’t get the impression that The Cost of Greatness is catchy simply for the sake of marketability; there’s a genuine passion here, and I look forward to hearing it again, hopefully more consistently, next time.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 3192 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: |
Released Worldwide: October 16th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. My 00’s-era pop exposure was extremely limited.
  2. What.
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