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Legion of the Damned – Slaves of the Shadow Realm

Legion of the Damned
Slaves of the Shadow Realm
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 08 February 2019, 8:02 AM

The Netherland’s LEGION OF THE DAMNED is nothing if not consistent.  They have been around a long time, having formed way back in 1992 under the name OCCULT, releasing five full lengths.  In 2005 they changed their name to their current moniker. “Slaves of the Shadow Realm” is their seventh full length album under this name.  As always, the band plays a deadly mixture of Death, Black and Thrash and this album isn’t any different. I want to begin the review by talking about the production—and how fucking good it is.  The guitar tone is one that is heavy but, even when they are playing as fast as possible, each note can be heard.  The drums sound great and the vocals are perfectly balanced in the mix.  All too often, I find the drumming and/or vocals to be way too up front but this album finds a balance for everything to work with.  For such a brutal band, I normally wouldn’t want production this great but it works well for this album.

The standard release is nine tracks but my promo copy included two bonus ones—every track here is a rager unto itself.  I’m sure you have heard the term “barn burner?” Well this one burns the barn, field, and all the cute little animals.  It doesn’t reinvent the wheel nor does it do anything to surprise you but I’ll be damned (see what I did there?) if this album isn’t a face ripper. The opening track,“The Widows Breed,” immediately gets the ball rolling with riffs so fast they cut to the bone, like a frenzied over starved school of piranha and sharp and crisp drumming that is a constant hammer smash to the face.  Twan Van Geel is a riff monster, often playing so furious and with such vigor I have to wonder if his fingers are robotic. With him being the only guitarist, Gielen does a great job in off-setting this with his bass by filling up the sound very well. I can’t stand it when Thrash Metal has a thin sound and Gielen keeps this from happening.

Black Banners In Flames,” is Speed/Thrash metal incarnate and it didn’t let me catch my breath for even a second. Swinkels’ vocals are always on point and he finds a rhythm on this song that makes him musically important as the other three players.  I doubt anyone listens to Thrash for the vocals but he once again provides a decadent performance because he can do Blackened and Death vocals so well and still be understood for the most part. “Slaves of the Southern Cross,” is catchy as hell (as far as bands like this go) and it was a great idea to release this as a video single.  The song is unrelenting but features enough variation in the riffs to keep it from getting monotonous.

Shadow Realm of the Demonic Mind,” is one of my favorite of the album simply because it sounds different from the other tracks.  The band finds themselves stepping out of their comfort zone and introducing some melody and a more classical intro before the thrash kicks in.  I can’t help but think this album would be even better if they stepped outside the box more with their dynamics. The last track, “Dark Coronation/Outro,” ends the album on a strong note with one of the most furious songs on the album. The mid-section is particularly strong with lead notes capturing the moment and heightening the riffs behind them.

As it stands, however, this is a great Blackened/Death Thrash metal album that contains a classic sound with modern, and brutal, sensibilities.

Songwriting:7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Widows Breed
2. Nocturnal Commando
3. Charnel Confession
4. Slaves of the Southern Cross
5. Warhounds of Hades
6. Black Banners In Flames
7. Shadow Realm of the Demonic Mind
8. Palace of Sin
9. Dark Coronation/Outro
10. Priest Hunt (Bonus Track)
11. Azazel’s Crown (Bonus Track)
Lineup:
Erik Fleuren – Drums
Maurice Swinkels – Vocals
Harold Gielen – Bass
Twan van Geel - Guitars
Record Label: Napalm Records
     


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