Time flies. It doesn’t seem nearly twenty years ago since first acquiring the self-titled release by a band from Richmond, VA called Burn the Priest. Contained within were fourteen tracks showcasing a driving, heavy sound with tons of groove that would serve to be the blueprint for the band’s metamorphosis as Lamb of God. Now, in 2018, the guys have released an album under the moniker of their former selves, a collection of ten covers of some of their favorite songs that helped shape the sound of their own band. While their early material is preferable, the band deserves much respect as they helped expand the audience of groove-based brutal Metal taking up where the mighty Pantera left off. Another pro is they are Southern, a most endearing trait. In fact, Randy Blythe can be seen often at shows here in NC (his mother lives at the beach here), and I got the chance to meet him about twelve years ago at a Weedeater show. He was a quiet, amicable, humble guy. It’s more than clear that the band enjoyed recording this album for the proof is in the tunes.
A cover of The Accused‘s “Inherit the Earth” opens the album. It’s a super-fast speed picking riff extravaganza accentuated by the always-tight drumming of Chris Adler. The third track is a cover of Big Black‘s “Kerosene”. It begins with some well-executed harmonics and a catchy riff. During the verse section, the dirty distorted bass plays the main riff solo throughout while Randy basically narrates the verse. The chorus is actually sung by Blythe, the first example I’ve heard of his well-tuned singing voice which is also accompanied by some signature screams. “Kill Yourself” by S.O.D. from their amazing debut album is the fourth track, and the band certainly does this classic justice as they slam their way through the brutal mosh pit banger translating the song well with their delivery. Agnostic Front‘s “One Voice” is the eighth track, a true Hardcore classic. The band manages to breathe new life into it as Burn the Priest playing Hardcore sounds great. The highlight of the album is, without doubt, the ninth track, a cover of “Dine Alone” by Quicksand. Listening to this track takes me back to the 1990s, and Randy’s vocals are completely clean. He is on key and his melodic singing amply does justice to the song.
As a whole, the album showcases a larger representation of the sheer musicianship of the band and successfully broadens my appreciation for them. It’s a pleasure to hear the bass with a more prominent role, and along with a girth-filled dirty tone, the playing comes across as completely tight and articulate. What can be said about Chris Adler’s drumming that hasn’t been said already? This release is no exception in its exposition of his amazing ability behind the skins. Will and Mark show off a bigger display of their skills as well with select solos, some wah-pedal fun, and some well-placed pinch harmonics. Randy Blythe steals the show, hands down. A more well-rounded side of his vocals will be sure to wow the fans as he shows off a more-than-capable clean singing voice. Now I can’t help but want to hear more of his singing.
Legion: XX is an excellent summer release, the perfect soundtrack for road trips, adventuring, and of course, the art of partying. It’s an album meant to be fun, not reinventing the wheel, but it surely shows some different sides of the band. I can’t help but wonder whether any of this material will be played on the Slayer farewell tour, but I’ll find out next week. After hearing some new dimensions to this already legendary band, I cannot help but wonder what the future will hold.