Hot damn, I love it when this happens: I get a link from someone I know, and they tell me to “check this band out”. So of course I do, and I wind up falling in love with said band, and then procuring everything I possibly can from them. Well, today that band is Legion of the Damned, and their new album Ravenous Plague hits U.S. shores on January 7 via Napalm Records. So not only will this be the first disc I review for 2014, it will also be one of the heaviest and thrashiest. And thanks Jon for turning me onto these guys!
The album opens up with “The Apocalyptic Surge” that sounds like part of the soundtrack to an action/suspense movie, perhaps during a particularly harrowing sequence. It then breaks right into “Howling For Armageddon” which leans more toward extreme thrash territory before completely crossing that line with “Black Baron”, blast beats and all. “Mountain Wolves Under a Crescent Moon” was one of the first two songs I heard and was definitely the one that made me wanna hear more. This song is riffs, riffs, and nothing but the riffs! New guitarist Twan van Geel has clearly studied the greats before him, and doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel of thrash. He knows how to give us what we want with a hint of something different, especially here.
Things take more of an old school Kreator turn with “Ravenous Abominations”, which is great because I’m a big Kreator fan. The tempo change midway through enables us to really soak in the entire band behind Maurice Swinkels’ gruff voice; not that he’s anything close to cookie monster, mind you (thank the Gods). “Doom Priest” has that dark and eerie vibe at the beginning and continues to slowly move forward with a spoken word vocal for about a minute before picking up some steam. One of my favorites though is “Summon All Hate”. Everything from the guitar tone to the solos to the drum patterns and hook, this song makes an immediate impression, particularly on the half-time breakdown of the chorus. This is the one I found myself singing all day.
Another favorite right off the bat was “Bury Me In a Nameless Grave”. Once again, strong riffs and even stronger arrangements make for a modern day thrash masterpiece. I can see this one being the song a lot of people talk about next year, I really can. I especially like when it takes off running toward the end. “Armalite Assassin” is another strong one, and for those of you don’t know what an Armalite is, look it up!! The final track “Strike of the Apocalypse” is everything you’d expect from a song with such an ominous title, and is an excellent closer, van Geel coaxing some interesting sounds from his axe amongst the vast landscape of riffs. The hammering beat is one that pummels you into submission, and when it’s over you’ll be looking to start this record over again, STAT. Kudos to Legion of the Damned for kicking 2014 off right!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Bury Me In a Nameless Grave”, “Mountain Wolves Under a Crescent Moon”, “Summon All Hate”, “Armalite Assassin”, “Strike of the Apocalypse”