CD Review: “Slaves Of The Shadow Realm” by Legion Of The Damned

Dutch metal quartet Legion Of The Damned have unleashed its unholy seventh record, Slaves Of The Shadow Realm.

Album opener “The Widow’s Breed” is a blistering track with chainsaw guitar slicing through thrashing drum beats. The lyrical imagery of African witchcraft is especially interesting and a wonderful departure of the conventional satanic/anti-Christian themes.

“Nocturnal Commando” continues with the African lyrical content the previous track as a tribute to Ogun, the God of Iron in the Yoruba religion. Guitarist Twan van Geel’s unrelenting riffs easily keep pace with Erik Fleuren’s ferocious drumming.

Things briefly slow down on the “Charnel Confession” which maintains an uneasy rhythm throughout the song’s duration. There are numerous guitar fills that complement “Confession’s” fierty atmosphere.

“Slaves Of The Southern Cross” is a demonic grooving tune as the band plays in the pocket before speeding things up during the midsection. The chopping guitar riffs and double bass drums conclude the track in hellish fashion.

“Warhounds of Hades”commences with a colossal drum pattern before descending in to a crushing thrash number. Geel’s aggressive double picking in the main riff drives this track, and the midsection will arouse a mosh pit.

“Priest Hunt” features a haunting symphonic sample that segues in to a galloping pattern and a meat hook guitar riff. A contrast from the thrash fused black metal on prior tracks, yet it still fits on Shadow Realm.

Album closer “Dark Coronation” is the longest track on the record at a shade under six minutes. There is a hardcore punk influence on this track that elides with some complex guitar riffs making it a killer album closer.

Shadow Realm is a collision of black, death, thrash metal and punk but Legion pulls it off for most of the record. Some songs are a bit too long, causing the record to drag. Luckily, Legion’s musical prowess compensates for the album’s few low moments. The production is on point, especially on tracks like “Priest Hunt” with the extra scoop on the guitars. The band also experiments with symphonic samples and a melancholy piano intro “Slaves Of The Demonic Mind.” There are a few good surprises on this record.

Legion Of The Damned bring the goods on Slaves Of The Shadow Realm. Fans of Goatwhore and fellow Dutch metal band God Dethroned will appreciate the band’s melding of metal subgenres. However, this album falls slightly short on some tracks. Still, it is a very good album to lead us in to 2019. The dark gods will appreciate this offering.

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CD Review: ‘Uprise’ by Nemesea

Dutch rock band Nemesea blend hard rock with electronica on its fourth album, Uprise. The opening track “Hear Me” is reminiscent of Queens of the Stone with its driving stoner beat. However, the similarities end there once frontwoman Manda Ophuis’ operatic vocals kick into high gear. The single “Twilight” is a unique mix of classical and electronic music with a hard rock edge. The musical ambience provides a strong musical landscape for Manda’s vocals. The band takes a slight detour into symphonic metal territory on “Forever.” The open guitars crash like rain hitting the ground while the keyboards create a mood of melancholy. The anthemic and empowering “Time To Make It” is a plea for those to take control of their lives and shape their destiny. The song contrasts between soft and loud, with Manda talking to the listener before shouting the chorus. It works very well and is sure to be a fan favorite. The tranquil “Light Up The Sky” is a beautiful ballad that paints a picture of a couple under a star-filled sky. The short piano solo adds an emotional touch before the electric guitars kick in.

Uprise is not a symphonic or goth metal record. There are elements of both subgenres, however Nemesea is a hard rock band. Uprising is a smorgasbord of hard rock, electronica, goth and metal with a commercial appeal. Some may criticize Uprising for being to soft and mainstream. Nonetheless, Nemesea has found its niche and it is successful. The production is solid and the songwriting is good.

Uprising is a great hard rock record that will please fans of Xandria, Delain or Within Temptation. It is a short record that does not drag on and features several great tracks. This band keeps rising up.

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CD Review: ‘Fire & Ashes’ by Xandria

Hot off the release of its 2014 release Sacrficium, Dutch symphonic metal outfit Xandria’s new EP, Fire & Ashes, is a mix of old and new. The mini-album features 3 new songs, two covers, and two re-recordings of older songs. Vocalist Dianne van Giersbergen is the focal point of this album. Her operatic vocals effortlessly soar above the classical riffs and pounding drums. This is evident on the opening track “Voyage of the Fallen.” The baroque inspired track is both dynamic and epic. Dianne’s soothing vocals contrast against the aggressive music making for an interesting listen. The band shows its diverse influences on “Unembraced” as it blends techno, classical piano and metal. The band pulls it off well and it does not sound odd or disjointed. This is attributed to the band’s simplified approach to the songs. Power and symphonic metal is often criticized for being pretentious and over the top. The criticism is often justified, which is why it is refreshing that Xandria does not tread the same path. The downbeat ballad “In Rememrance” stands out for its laid back drum beat, dissonant piano keys and somber guitar lead. The track is bound to become a fan favorite and will be frequently played at concerts. The re-recorded track “Ravenheart” does not deviate much from the original recordings and essentially shows the range of Dianne. However, the updated version of “Now and Forever” is heavier and bombastic than the original which may impress or disappoint fans.

The production of Fire & Ashes is strong and shows off the vocal power of the van Giersbergen. The vocals do not drown out the instruments, as the band’s heavy, powerful sound is not diminished. The pianos, strings, and electronic samples are very audible, allowing the listener to hear the nuances of each track.

In short Fire & Ashes is a good stop gap EP that should tide over fans until the next proper release. It is also a great introduction for those unfamiliar with the band. Fans deadset on owning everything Xandria should pick this up. However, casual listeners should still give the release a listen.

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