To hear Hostage tell the tale, they are four young German musicians who do not want to be held hostage to trends and genres. Formed in 2018, Memento Mori is their debut album and is “classified” as Modern Metal. True to form, it this more than one genre from a stylistic point of view. There are elements of Metalcore, Nu Metal, Thrash, and Melodic Metal, all mixed in to create a potent concoction with plenty of something for everyone. The layered keyboards and overlapping vocals give a lot of depth to the heavy guitars and pulsating rhythms. This is definitely more than you bargained for if you’re looking for something that fits a norm or standard.
- Noah Müller – Vocals
- Nico Ruddies – Lead Guitars
- David Fuß – Rhythm Guitars
- Marvin Ruddies – Drums
October 28, 2022
- The Swarm
- Don’t Let Me Down
- Curtain Fall
- Rebellion (feat. Henning Wehland & Dave Gappa)
- Break The Cycle
- Hollow Earth
- M.U.T.O. (feat. Marius Wedler of Alleviate
- Game Over (feat. Christopher Wieczorek)
The album opens with an anthemic intro, quickly leading to a massive riff. This will taper off to a moderate tempo and tone. The vocals go from clean to harsh and back, sometimes incorporating a bit of grit and almost always nearing the powerful belting style you’ll hear through most of the songs. “The Swarm” and “Cancer” both have heavy rhythms with lots of variety in the tempos. They drive hard, slow to a doomy crawl for a few measures, then go hard again. There is no bassist or key player listed, but you hear those things layered in, so I’m betting they are either looking for touring musicians or using a computer to enhance this live.
Either of those scenarios is fine. Pre-recorded tracks and samples are the industry standard now, making the shows better. It’s a simple addition to create a bigger sound, both on the record and the stage. With a song like “Ark,” you can have the full sound effects of the wind and muted guitars to let the crowd know what’s coming. That kick into the song’s main body is pretty epic and deserves the lead-in.
Similarly, “Fantasy” has some tones that can be added and amplified to build the song up, just like it is on the recording. Those added tones increase the impact of the music, giving the listener more to process to hear as part of the song experience. These tones tie the track’s individual components together in new and novel ways.
“Relapse” is a chaotic song for influences. The drum intro has a bit of a Linkin Park vibe, but the song is much heavier than most of what they did, going closer to industrial metal in some sections. I hear early Nine Inch Nails and even a few Type O Negative phrases here, giving this song a unique feel. It sometimes covers the heavy and melodic parts of all those bands. You get this throughout the entire album, making it unique but also familiar and relatable.
The chugging riff of “Curtain Fall” with the lead tones laid over it is a stunning piece of work. You get the harsh and the delicate, the rough and the gentle, the dark and the light. The drums stand out a bit here. They’ve always been very present, but here, they seem to crash through a bit better, louder. Part of that is the drum leads scattered throughout the track, allowing for more recognition and love to be sent that way.
The best example of the Nu-Metal influence so far is “Rebellion,” a song that makes me think of POD and heavier Limp Bizkit songs. I love the reference to David Bowie and how they incorporate some of his works into the lyrics. Then, “Break The Cycle” turns heavy, leaning on the melodic metal but doing so with a fury and vengeance that is more sinister than some other songs. The growls are dark, but the cleans have more emotion than you hear across most of the vocal performance.
“Hollow Earth” begins with ominous tones and warnings from various news channels playing over each other. This is the break from the heavy music. The heartbeat seems to build, but instead of stopping, it leads into the next track, “M.U.T.O.” the short intro track works well, providing a theme that will be revisited throughout this song. The warnings seem to be foretelling the decline and possible death of the planet from both natural and man-made disasters.
Closing the album out is “Afterall.” This track leans towards the mellower, the modern metal sound of the band. It has an almost power ballad structure and feel. The faster, heavier tones in the chorus follow the pattern of many power ballads from the heyday of the 80s. The verses are gentler and almost delicate, contrasting beautifully with the more aggressive chorus and bridge.
There is a lot of range to this band. They cover a lot of genres and move fluidly from melodic to industrial to modern to heavy metal. There is something for everyone on this record; bombastic rhythms, heavy guitars, gentle melodies, and every emotion in the human scope of feelings. Hostage took four years to put out this debut record, and they definitely took their time to get the songs right. The shifts in tempo, and the changes in tones, they are very precise and well executed, hitting right where they want it to. I hope it doesn’t take four more years to get more from these guys.
- Guitars – 9
- Rhythms – 9
- Vocals – 9
- Songwriting – 9
- Production – 9
- Overall – 9.0