Deicide – Legion

The most surprising thing about ‘Legion’ really is that it’s about as good as everyone says.  The real question is whether it’s good on its own or just good in comparison to Deicide’s lesser moments.  It’s easy to see why so many people find this to be Deicide’s finest hour: it’s their most technical record by far, and does possess a level of intensity not really found on other Deicide albums.  I can say that it’s a good album, and as far as Deicide goes an excellent one.  While it’s in the upper echelon of classic death metal releases, I can’t QUITE say that it’s the perfect entity so many believe it to be.

Rhythmically, this is very complex music, erupting like a volcano in streams of vicious tremolo and blasting before fragmenting in a fill and rearranging itself in a new configuration.  It almost reminds me of early Malignancy in a way, when there was still an obvious thread to follow the music with.  Asheim and the Hoffman brothers were probably at their instrumental best on this album; some of the riffs here are very confusing and difficult to follow while the drum performance can get equally crazy like a lower-grade Flo Mounier.  The weak point to the whole album is Glen Benton: his vocal performance is static and adds little to the music, and if this was an instrumental album probably nothing would be lost.  The songs are short and fast enough to keep your attention without a leading voice.  The music has a certain density to it that seems to make it more intense than most current brutal death metal; there’s more going on in shorter spaces.  All the riffs seem half as long as they’d normally be, like they took normal Deicide songs and tried to condense them to their purest form.

The result is an album that’s very, very aggressive, and the aggression is often able to make up for some of the less compelling moments in the writing.  While this is a different Deicide, it’s still Deicide, and the riffing is still clearly attributable to the Hoffman brothers.  This seems to be the album where Deicide tried harder than any other; it lacks catchiness (although it does have immediacy) and even nowadays seems to be more extreme than most death metal by virtue of its writing.  You can sort of see a line drawn from this album to bands like Deeds Of Flesh, with dense song structures that require a fair bit of actual analysis to understand.  It’s pretty cool to see Deicide clearly trying to make a very extreme record that would challenge their fans.  Unsurprisingly, Deicide fans don’t like to be mentally challenged, and in a sort of amusing ‘revenge’, Deicide followed this with ‘Once Upon The Cross’.  Too bad it backfired when Deicide realized their fans just wanted to hear Pantera with blast beats.

Anyway, yeah, this is admittedly a very strong album in Deicide’s catalog.  While I’d still put it under ‘Serpents Of The Light’, it’s probably the second best the band ever turned out.  As far as its place in death metal, I can see its significance even if I don’t see it as the religious experience that others interpret it as.  Either way, it’s a very worthwhile album that really every death metal fan owes it to themselves to listen to at least a few times before dumping it in favor of something that doesn’t make their brains hurt.

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~ by noktorn on September 3, 2008.

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