The first major metal publication of the year arrives from the Netherlands. Legion of the Damned, the influential death metal quartet from Limburg, has released the seventh full-lenght album of their discography (if we don’t count the material released as Occult, before 2005). Slaves of the Shadow Realm, their new record, interrupts a five-years gap after their previous LP but we can quickly verify that their successful formula of death & thrash has remained substantially untouched.
In reality, if we should limit to the first two tracks of the album we would speak of nothing more than a violent, brutal and at times inaccurate sonic attack (principally from the rhythmic point of view). After this initial barrage fire, however, that maybe has been put there with the objective to filter out the causal listeners, the band seems to regain the ability to mediate between styles and genres and, from that point to the end of the LP we can eventually enjoy a collection of great songs, played with that intensity, passion and focus that have always been among the main characteristics of this formation.
From a musical point of view, there are clearly two components in the music of Legion of the Damned that chase and compete each other: a blackened death metal vein, which typically provides the brutal, sinister and aggressive baseline of their songs, and a thrash metal sensibility that generates speed and riffs. Where these two components manage to blend together we get the most exciting results, as is the case with the beautiful song Slaves of the Southern Cross.
Beyond the individual tracks, however, there is a persistent and palpable sense of heaviness, darkness and impending doom that pervades the whole album. It’s like finding yourself inside a dense and obscure cloud, from which you can not emerge. Everything is finally enriched by a superlative production, something that we had already appreciated in the previous work from the band, their 2014’s Ravenous Plague which signed the transition from Massacre Records to Napalm Records.
In summary: it’s very nice to start the new year with an album like Slaves of the Shadow Realm. Beyond some physiological drops of tension and a few minor inaccuracies, this is definitely a major record from a great band and I expect that we will talk again about this LP in the months to come.
The album can be streamed from Spotify.
Highlights: Slaves of the Southern Cross and Charnel Confession.