By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Netherlands-bred thrash quartet Legion Of The Damned ensure 2019 begins on a frightful note, thanks to their Jan. 4 release, Slaves Of The Shadow Realm.
The current line-up consists of Maurice Swinkels (vocals), Twan van Geel (guitars), Harold Gielen (bass) and Erik Fleuren (drums) as they’ve kept up their tradition of lyrical themes of religion, apocalypse and general dark horrors.
Formerly known as Occult from 1992-2006, they released five albums until their LOTD name change, to which they’ve now had eight more albums under.
The band once merchandised a cheese block embellished with their logo, so we already know we’re in for something unorthodox. They’ve also gone through some hardship as former member Twan Fleuren took his own life in May 2011.
We’ll waste no time – to sum up the band’s sound in a metaphor – a sunny summer day suddenly overcome by black thunderstorm clouds. Once the rain pours, the streets quickly flood as cloud-to-ground lightning flashes frequently.
The record’s tracks all bleed the same in arrangement – the guitars chug, the drums constantly throb and the intro riffs are interesting enough to keep you on your toes.
It’s loud, unforgivable and downright vicious at times, but look beyond thrash’s obvious characteristics and you’ll find a few tracks worthy of your black heart.
The polished “Charnel Confession” possesses a fast-paced groove that almost makes you want to bust out your best hardcore dance move in Grand Central Station. Almost. We questioned why that didn’t open the album instead of the brunt-yet-blunt “The Widow’s Breed.”
A memorable breakdown upon “Black Banners In Flames” changes things up enough halfway through, though a thorough attack on the ears. (Say that 10 times fast)
“Shadow Realm Of The Demonic Mind” undergoes swift tempo changes from a slow intro to another similar bass groove like “Charnel Confession,” enough to stand out in a good way.
We’ll stand behind “Palace Of Sin” as the star track, complete with a catchy lead riff that repeats throughout the song, with strong potential to be a lead single if not already. That riff tho.
If you’re ever in a situation that calls for a dramatic song to play just before you go onto the battlefield, the intro to “Priest Hunt” has got you covered, although that’s the song’s only unique aspect, it still rocks enough to be thrown in with the cool kids.
Props also to the detailed album artwork, which features dark skies, a figure with a bloody axe in one hand and a disembodied head in the other, anger-laden skulls, you know, the norm.
“Dark Coronation” finishes on a melodious high note before we are led out by the ever-appropriate outro.
Our end statement – if you’re bored with United States metal, look to the nether regions of the Netherlands. The Slaves Of The Shadow Realm await you.