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Review: Dark Legions - Satänic Deströyer
Dark Legions
Satänic Deströyer

Label: Pestilence Records
Year released: 2006
Duration: 46:27
Tracks: 12
Genre: Black/Thrash


Review online: November 17, 2006
Reviewed by: Cluedo
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Rated 3/5 (60%) (1 Vote)

"And so it begins:"…

Satänic Deströyer, the debut full-length of Sweden's sinister DARK LEGIONS, kicks off with those ominous words. As soon as the utterance fades away, the listener is propelled back in time, to an age where the darkest limb of the metal tree began to branch out. There are no pretenses, no gimmicks, no experiments. This is metal.

Following last year's demo, Awaken the Legions, a release which embodied a plodding, brooding aura similar to that espoused by CELTIC FROST with occasional bursts of thrash pandemonium, the compositions on this record piece together several characteristics from across metal and rock to forge a sincere and compelling sound. The general template adopted is simple – ancient black metal in the vein of the genre's forefathers, with heavy doses of early Teutonic thrash, and a classic true metal/rock underpinning which is more developed here than it was on the demo.

Apart from "Bang Your Head with the Dead" which revisits the gloomy FROST-ish elements of the demo, Satänic Deströyer is forceful and carries the sort of swagger often associated with the outlook of metal of the time it wishes to reclaim. The tempo is fairly energetic though not blistering, and has a meaty swinging vibe to it. The callous 'fuck off, or you'll have a fist in your face' sort of attitude of the music is mirrored in the album's artwork – a more intimidating take on KISS' Destroyer album cover.

The song structures are straightforward and never stray far from traditional verse-chorus arrangements. There is a great texture to the production, balancing murk with warmth, rawness with dynamics. Even with the fuzz, there is a fair deal of clarity allowing each instrument's tone to poke through. Vocalist Pest's predominant style of delivery involves an intelligible yet throaty articulation with intermittent Tom G. Warrior inspired grunts. Dark's guitar work consists primarily of powerchord driven riffs with a bristly tone accompanied by of course howling, shattering solos motivated by the Gods of rock n' roll themselves. Underneath it all, nifty bass playing packs the type of punch required for such ballsy music while Legion's drumming, though not overtly technical nor should it be, forms DARK LEGIONS backbone as it crashes and rumbles through proceedings.

If you're expecting a good but predictable album merely mimicking the likes of BATHORY, VENOM, HELLHAMER and their ilk, you will be in for a surprise or two. DARK LEGIONS aren't afraid to throw the occasional curve. The classic rock/metal foundation which I have mentioned is what separates DARK LEGIONS from other current acts attempting to reclaim extreme metal's roots. Although they had already hinted at some rocking moments on the demo, such as the song "Purification" which has been re-recorded and renamed "Nailed to the Cross" on Satänic Deströyer, the band have made these elements more pronounced. Part of this can be attributed to the several guest 'contractors' enlisted to strengthen this base. An eclectic supporting cast, ranging from maniacal underground characters to well-known personalities makes their presence felt on this album. There's the "singalong" gang chorus on "Sons of Hell", and the epic haunting, heavy fucking "Summon the Witch" with its anthem-like chorus (featuring Nicke "Ripper" Johansson of HEXENHAUS and MANINNYA BLADE). Also the VENOM turns southern rock vibe of "The Sleep" (featuring Jonas Isacsson – Crash!Boom!Bang! bitches!) generates an exceptionally trippy feeling through the use of floating extended guitar notes buried in the mix. These three moments really shake things up in this album.

So, you may ask, at a time where various bands are trying to bring metal's roots back into the spotlight, what makes DARK LEGIONS special? The answer is abstract – it's the spirit of the band which makes this album so appealing. Granted they aren't breaking any new ground, nor is that their intention, but it is the conviction of the band and the essence of the late 70s/early 80s which courses through their music which allows for a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

It is simple. If you want innovative yet potentially soulless music, look elsewhere. But if you want music that's metal to the fucking core, this is an album you need in your collection.

Look out for the backmasked message.

More about Dark Legions...
Interview with Drummer Legion and guitarist Dark on November 19, 2006 (Interviewed by Cluedo)
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