Memories of Old – The Zeramin Game Review

As if the cover of Memories of Old‘s debut wasn’t enough of an indicator, this one is for all the fantasy nerds out there. Promo materials for The Zeramin Game identify Memories of Old‘s music as symphonic power metal, but if we’re talking specifics, The Zeramin Game is a spirited cross between castle metal and pirate metal. It’s the kind of album I’d expect might be born if Serenity and Alestorm had an inkling for each other — an album concerning equal parts ancient times, legend, and prophecy and equal parts a journey across turbulent seas. With their very first album, Memories of Old have already figured out how to set a mood. It’s as if you can hear gilded swords clinking and the din of merry men and women with their overflowing tankards clanking, ale sloshing over the ship’s deck into the black ocean far below while listening to The Zeramin Game. 

While Memories of Old are a brand spanking new band on the symphonic power metal scene, a close inspection of the band’s lineup reveals a fair amount of experience. Guitarist and founding member Billy Jeffs aroused the interest of Sabaton guitarist Tommy Johansson with his vision. Johansson promptly declared himself a member of the band and ultimately became the leading vocalist. His vocals are robust and theatrical without being too in your face or over the top. He’s a flexible vocalist as well — Johansson’s voice sounds alarmingly similar to Marco Heitala’s of Nightwish on his YouTube cover of “Bye Bye Beautiful.” Johansson’s resume includes a slew of guest appearances. One which I was particularly surprised and delighted to see was his vocal contributions to Astralium‘s impressive debut album from last year, Land of Eternal Dreams. Tommy’s voice plays a critical role on The Zeramin Game but it doesn’t prevent the rest of the band members from having their own moments to shine.

Don’t let the introductory half minute of spoken word and subsequent instrumental overture turn you away from giving The Zeramin Game a fair chance. Your initial perception of Memories of Old‘s debut might be one of grotesque cheesiness, especially following the glitzy synth in fast-paced third track “The Land of Xia.” But give it time. The first two tracks are simply primers for an epic adventure. On “The Land of Xia,” that garish synth gives way to Johansson’s delightful and confident vocals. Memories of Old finally let up on the gas pedal and intense double bass with the acoustic track “Destiny,” a standout on the album. Johansson’s sincere vocals tug at your heartstrings, the choruses are passionate, and the guitar soloing is beautiful and unhurried. Oh, and did I mention it’s obscenely catchy? The band switches gears to go full pirate metal with “Across the Seas” and features more zany synths in “Fowlen’s Revenge,” which at over eight minutes dangles dangerously on the precipice of boring.

The Zeramin Game is nearly 75 minutes long with the penultimate title track coming in at a staggering 14 minutes. But while several of the other tracks feel like they overstay their welcome (“Zera’s Shadow”, “Across the Seas”), this monstrous track remains engaging through its entirety. Taking the form of an opera at times and a gentle ballad at others, “The Zeramin Game” demonstrates what Memories of Old do best, gorgeous storytelling with impeccable production and instrumentation so tight you’d think the band has been playing together for decades rather than a mere three years.

The Zeramin Game is an absolute joy to listen to. It’s epic, theatrical, and fun to hum along to. Does it walk the plank with any revolutionary ideas, though? I’m afraid not. Memories of Old‘s risk aversion might be the sole factor which prevents their otherwise unblemished debut from being in the running for one of my favorite albums of the year. Now that Memories of Old have played it safe with a successful album recipe, I excitedly look forward to whether they *in Johansson’s noble tenor* “someday soon [will] sail across the ocean” into uncharted territory.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self-released
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 18th, 2020

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