Monday, 25 January 2021

Legio Sergia - Through the Fire with Closed Eyes (2020)

Country: Germany
Style: Heavy/Power/Death Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 14 Aug 2020
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Metal Archives | VK

Here's another submission, this time from Tübingen in Germany, that came out last August. Thanks to Proprius, Legio Sergia's guitarist, for that. The band ostensibly play melodic death metal, with a lot more of the "melodic" than usual because his guitar is high in the mix and often higher than expected in pitch. It makes for a versatile sound that plays in heavy and power metal as often as it does melodeath and is definitely more cheerful than the genre usually gets. With an opening instrumental title track being orchestral and a little avant garde, this album is definitely interesting.

The biggest downside to the album is obvious from the start and only becomes more so once it's over and that's that it doesn't last very long. It only runs 27 minutes to begin with, ninety seconds shorter than even Reign in Blood, and the intro and outro take up almost six of those minutes. That means that we only have six songs proper, each under four minutes, and they include the two songs from the EP they put out in January 2020 and the two singles before that. I definitely wanted more material here.

The good news is that the material we have is often very good stuff. In addition to the guitar sound, which makes this a broad album if not a long one, I was really impressed by the drumming of DeMort, who joined the band this year and is best known for doing absolutely everything in the Ukrainian project Luna, which Metal Archives calls a symphonic funeral doom/death metal outfit. I presume that means he plays a lot slower there than he does here, but his work seemed effortless to me, as if the speed meant nothing and he could have handled any tempo the band threw at him without breaking a sweat.

Look Upon the World sets the template in place with the harsh voice of Theodor over what could have been a a NWOBHM era riff and drums that shift from fast to very fast. Across the Streets is darker and heavier but adds a second voice in a jaunty section that's almost alternative rock. There's a lot of Iron Maiden here, as there often is on this album, but there are points where it gets doomy and that jaunty section could have been borrowed from commercial nu metal. The more I listen to these songs, the more they don't seem to do what I expect, which I like.

There's a point in Across the Streets where I could swear blind that I recognise a riff, but I can't place it. Other riffs spark memories in Our Freedom and especially Assertion, which kind of sounds like not just one band but the entire year of 1984 in metal, everything from Nemesis to Venom via, inevitably, Iron Maiden. It feels like this song both looks back to the NWOBHM era, which was over in its purest form, and forward to the extreme genres that were being formulated at the time. Our Freedom does a similar job, but not so overtly.

My favourite song here is easily The Walker, because it continues to do all the interesting things with music but adds some other interesting things with vocals. There are two primary voices in play here, a third introducing them. Each is harsh and deep to a different level, but it's easy to differentiate them from each others. They bounce off each other in memorable fashion, seeming like a conversation not a duet, like trolls meeting over a barrel of ale. The guitar drops into its most simplistic form anywhere on the album to give them the focus, before returning to business as usual. It's an unusual song, with nods to speed and, through the voices, folk metal, and I adore it.

Just as Our Freedom is Assertion but less so, Rush Along is The Walker but less so. They have similar goals but they're a little less ambitious and a bit more traditional. I like all six songs here, though I did need to get used to the constant shifting of style and that took a couple of listens through. After that point, I was fascinated by how the band could shift from heavy to power to doom to death on the turn of a dime. This may well be the least obviously death metal album of any death metal I've reviewed at Apocalypse Later, but it's a fascinating one. Thanks, Proprius!

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