Review: Legion of the Damned – Ravenous Plague

Legion of the Damned – Ravenous Plague
Released: January 7th, 2014
Label: Napalm Records
★★★★½
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Legion of the Damned - Ravenous PlagueWhy are the Netherlands so metal? After listening to the new Legion of the Damned album, Ravenous Plague, I had to gather the pieces of my brain from the ground, as they were shot out my ears. That was the way I planned to go anyway.

After Occult died, Legion of the Damned got to work blasting out seven albums since 2005. While the former albums had their own raw charm, Ravenous Plague takes the cake for sounding the “darkest”. A malevolent mix of death and thrash metal, Ravenous Plague eases its listeners in with a dramatic, instrumental buildup lasting about a minute and a half. I do wish it were longer, but the thrash had to come. And it came hard.

The second actual track and first full song “Hollowing for Armageddon” blasts into the decibels with heavy riffs, that infamous double bass pounding, and the soul-raping vocals of Maurice Swinkels (unfortunate last name).  While the track is definitely thrashy and hard-hitting, it lacks a bit in variation. Luckily, this is not the case for most of the album. The third track “Black Baron” in indeed thrashier, grittier, and more musically variable. The song has a bpm similar to a deadly pulse rate, only furthered by growling riffs and guitar lead reliefs. I will say that the guitar leads aren’t exactly the “best”. But seriously… It’s thrash.

The next couple tracks keep that heart attack pace but incorporate different progressive elements. I especially enjoyed track four, “Mountain Wolves”. It’s a grimy mess of double bass pounding, guitar-squealing, and mountain wolves. For every listen, you grow a new chest hair. I found “Doom Priest” to be pretty sick. It has this foreboding beginning of slower riffs and brooding spoken word lyrics; unfortunately, the only words I could really make out were “as the ravens feed on the carcasses”. But then again, did I need to hear more? The song grows into a very progressive track a tad reminiscent of old Mastodon.

The next few tracks weren’t particularly notable. When I finally made my way to the ninth track, “Bury Me in a Nameless Grave”, my attention was regained. It’s not that it’s a “great” song, but it’s just high-energy, mosh-worthy, and totally plucked from 1992. Speaking on anachronism, the tenth track began with, I kid you not, a fade-in. Luckily the song, “Armalite Assassin”, is a sick track. It’s the most musically variable, it has the most unique riffs, the overall tone is deeper, and Swinkels sounds like he’s on the verge of barfing up razor blades with every word. The final track, “Strike of the Apocalypse” sounds like a purposeful extension of “Armilite Assassin” and I am happier for that.

Legion of the Damned have really proven to me that they are indeed from the Netherlands with Ravenous Plague. To put it simply, it’s just perfectly thrash and perfectly brutal. Whether it’s your turn to be DJ at the Tuesday night Satanic orgy, or you’re falling behind on your weekly grave-digging, Ravenous Plague will come to the rescue.

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