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Variety is the spice of life, so they say. Someone might want to mention this to Legion of the Damned. Picking up right were Venom left off last week in the the generic stakes, "Slaves of the Shadow Realm" churns out a largely unvaried, unremarkable and unmemorable thrash metal with the odd splash of death and black metal smatterings here and there. To give you some idea of how hard going this is I have to wait three whole tracks to here a lead guitar! I love good chug fest as much as the next man but when it is the only flavour in the dish its impact on the palette diminishes quickly.
I can't honestly tell if the album is supposed to be one long song accidentally edited to give gaps to give the illusion of it being several tracks? Some tracks just start very lazy (Slaves of the Southern Cross) whilst others just allude to some slight break of pace from the previous track before going off on the exact same pace, in the exact same direction (Nocturnal Commando).
The frustration is that when they get it at least half right and vary things just a touch, they can put together some enjoyable pieces (Warhounds of Hades) but the memorability factor still struggles to register much above a 0, even in these moments.
By far the pinnacle of the record is "Black Banners in Flames", a menacing thrasher of a track that allows for some relent in the ferocity stakes to apply some melody to create that aforementioned menace. Otherwise I feel that I have had a sub par meal at a restaurant. The chefs are perfectly competent (no Michelin stars here though folks) and the ingredients are all of reasonable quality, sourced responsibly enough, but there's little attempt at seasoning and so everything just seems bland. It sounds like the vocalist is holding this together really. Swinkels performance on all tracks is obviously a notch up from his band mates' which is a shame because he deserves better really.
2/5 (2019 is not starting well)
At the start of pulling this list together I had thought it to have been a "light" year for BM releases. It was only when I got into compiling my "Best of 2018" that I realised it had in fact been quite a good year. 2018 in BM saw the return of some well established acts, some of them doing what they have always done well whereas others took to the recording studios minus long standing members. When all is said and done, I think it all turned out rather well.
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It was 2014 when Corpsessed released their debut full length and mighty fucking good it was too. Some 4+ years later and it is time for the sophomore release to land in my music stream and seek my attention. When I say seek I actually mean possess my attention. Although the album is by no means perfect, this record grabs hold of you by your very soul, dragging it off on a journey littered with horror, darkness and crushing heaviness to boot. One of its main successes is the atmosphere that is obvious from the opening of "Impetus of the Dead" and plays an integral part over the remainder of the release.
It is a very well structured album too, with strong song writing that layers tracks up to behemoth size and proportions. Yet at the same time there's a real sense of balance too, for every cavernous and mammoth like structure there's shorter and more intense bursts that whilst moving the pace slightly away from the heaviness, don't distract too much from it. "Paroxsymal" and "Sortilege" are great examples of this, two well placed tracks that add a variety to the pace and increase the memorability of the whole experience.
The album only has two weak points for me. The penultimate track on the record seems just a random and not altogether necessary inclusion, especially given the quality of "Forlorn Burial" before it and the vast ending of "Starless Event Horizon" after it. Secondly, the production does seem to give off a muddled sound on some tracks although the horror of the atmosphere and those lead guitars certainly do rescue the day on more than one occasion. In a year that has struggled overall to bring many standout DM records, "Impetus of Death" will be a welcome addition to any fan's Top 10 DM Albums of 2018 no doubt. It is one of the stronger records of 2018 and also a fine step up from their debut offering also which makes me excited for album number 3.
The first song I heard ahead the full 2014 release ("The Satanist") from Behemoth was "Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel". It immediately peaked my interest, setting the tone nicely for what was to become one of my favoured full lengths of that year. This time around I heard "God = Dog" (which I think means the band are more cat people?). It sounded blunted and frankly restrained. Yes, there was a brief passage of some interesting string work towards the end but generally it just passed me by. Sadly, just as my experience of the lead song/single from 2014 was an excellent benchmark for my expectation of the full length, the same has happened in 2018 but with a very different outcome.
"I Loved You At Your Darkest" rarely achieves touching distance of the band's previous full length. There's lots of things that stop it from doing this, indeed the list is as long as either one of my lanky and lengthy arms. The songwriting is poor, it lacks any real structure the majority of the time. As a result there is a constant sense of this just being a very hastily written, rush of ideas. Tracks like "If Crucifixion Was Not Enough" and "Ecclesia Diabolica Catholica" show this in abundance, the former nailing the lid down on its own coffin with one of the laziest attempts at a menacing riff I have heard in a while.
When we do actually settle into some sense of structure it actually works well. "Bartzabel" is a sole triumph in the songwriting/structure stakes here and this is almost ruined by the annoying double layered, chanting backing vocals.
Next on my list of grumbles? The sound. It is one of the most sterile and strained sounding mixes I think I have ever heard on a record. The drums sound like they were tracked for a completely different purpose on some of the tracks, "Wolves ov Siberia" and "Rom 5:8" in particular. I can't believe that this was the intended sound the band wanted to achieve. I follow Behemoth on Instagram and they make much majesty and menace over their theatre and general pomp when performing live it seems. Surely then they haven't listened to the final playback of this record?
Now then. I don't recall chanting children on a record ever working well? But there's a couple of tracks here of children chanting their disdain for Christianity alongside Nergal and co. It sounds frankly fucking ridiculous and trite even over only two tracks!
In summary, this is a massive disappointment whether you enjoyed "The Satanist" or not. Hastily put together, poorly arranged and mixed terribly to boot.