Album Review: BURN THE PRIEST - Legion: XX
One pivotal day in the winter of 1994, four college students from Virginia Commonwealth University decided to form a band. This decision would not only change their lives, but leave a lasting influence on the metal scene. To this day, it is an influence continually felt by many. They would enjoy a long and storied career, playing to audiences around the world. That band was Burn The Priest—the first incarnation of whom we now know as Lamb Of God. To commemorate twentieth anniversary of the first album, the band have once again decided to release under their original name. Not forgetting their roots or humble beginnings, Burn The Priest returns with Legion: XX.
Legion: XX is a covers album that explores rock sub-genres like Hardcore, Noise, and Punk. This type of music had a direct influence on the band’s early sound and helped develop who they are today. It features songs from legendary artists like Agnostic Front, Ministry, Bad Brains, Melvins and more. Legion: XX is a well-marked musical blueprint of the foundation the band is built upon. You can feel the intense energy and honesty through every riveting note. This is certainly not a band that takes the easy way out.
“Inherit the Earth", originally composed by The Accused, kicks off the ten-track album and it comes out of the gate swinging. Frontman Randy Blythe delivers on his vocal duties with inherent ferocity. One can almost imagine him attacking each lyric in an MMA-style cage match. Of course, we all know who is winning here. Drummer Chris Adler’s double-bass is as punishing as a sledgehammer on fine china. Mark Morton and Willie Adler each contribute scorching guitars to complete the sonic adrenaline rush. There are plenty of soaring riffs and rhythms to satisfy even the biggest of shred-heads. If your heart’s not already racing after this, you must be asleep—or dead.
If you like your music at warp speed, then their rendition of S.O.D.'s “Kill Yourself” is just the ticket. It comes at you lighting fast, like a Bullet Train of fist-pumping perfection. Don’t bother to duck or step out of the way. This is one collision you can actually enjoy. Also thrusting its way into your face is “Kerosene,” made famous by Big Black. It is total mosh pit music.
Ministry's classic, “Jesus Built My Hot Rod,” may be the most interesting song in this punk rock amalgam yet. It begins quietly, unlike the rest of the tracks, in spoken word. Blythe’s gravely voice comes in low yet strong. The ensuing mini-monologue mentions Jerry Lee Lewis and Jesus: "Soon I discovered that this rock thing was true / Jerry Lee Lewis was the devil / Jesus was an architect previous to his career as a prophet." From there it launches into a tightly syncopated, dance-worthy six minutes of pure enjoyment. If nothing else on the record gets you out of your chair, this one definitely will.
A near-perfect record is hard to come by, but Legion: XX is one of the rare exceptions. Produced by Josh Wilbur, it was undoubtedly created and mixed with integrity. As a result, it firmly stands as a great album, in terms of the material and the music. When covers don’t do justice to the originals, as intended, they can leave the listener feeling disappointed. Every song here comes off without offending anyone or sounding like a carbon copy. The band has taken these songs and transformed through a filter of their own style. It is pretty much everything you could want it to be.
Lamb Of God is in for a massive summer of touring. They’ll be supporting Slayer on both legs of their US farewell tour and have numerous headlining dates scheduled. Although they haven’t given much detail, one can only hope that there will be plenty of opportunities to get Burn The Priest action into the set.