Album Review: BURN THE PRIEST – Legion XX

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Burn the Priest – Legion XX

Label: Epic Records

Release Date: may 18, 2018

Now known as metal beasts Lamb Of God, the primal punk entity has come full circle to celebrate their 20th anniversary by releasing Legion XX as the original manifestation Burn The Priest. Virginia Commonwealth University students, Mark Morton (guitar), John Campbell (bass), and Chris Adler (drums) formed he band in 1994 and shortly thereafter added Randy Blythe (vocals) and Willie Adler (guitar) to complete the ensemble. The quintet almost immediately moved to the forefront of the modern new wave metal in America. They have released eight studio albums to date, including their debut, Burn the Priest issued in 1999 under the same name.

Quite quickly, Burn The Priest members changed the name to Lamb of God, citing that they did not want to be confused with satanic metal and its practices. In 2000, they released their first studio album, New American Gospel under the Lamb of God name. Since then, the band has kept the lineup intact with only minor setbacks and hiatus’ during the 2010’s surrounding Blythe’s 2012 arrest for an incident in Prague just 2 years earlier. Heavy legal fees and downtime with no income depleted the bands funds. Progress on VII: Sturm and Drang suffered but was eventually released in 2015. In 2017, Blythe and Morton announced Lamb of God would be going on hiatus but they would still be making music. Something  the band has lived up to with the announcement they would be releasing a covers album under their original band name Burn the Priest.

Legion XX is a collection of covers designed to celebrate the band’s influences and bare essential classic punk rock roots. The album compiles music from rock/metal sub genres like punk, hardcore, and industrial featuring tracks from The Accused, Bad Brains, Melvins, S.O.D., Ministry and many more. This collection really exemplifies Burn the Priest’s original mindset, combining punk rock influence with an injection of primal thrash and heavier metal overtones. Most of the songs exhibit a more instrumental layout creating a flow throughout the album which set the tone as a very precise and clean rendition sonically as well as rhythmically.

I especially enjoyed the cover of “Jesus Built My Hotrod”, originally performed by Ministry. This song has always been at the forefront of the industrial metal genre for me. Blythe absolutely nails the opening spoken word, and the band made small changes to the arrangement, incorporating samples from other Ministry songs as well. Lengthening the tune, and creating new directions with the arrangement was absolutely genius. Another song I particularly thought stood out was “Kill Yourself” by S.O.D. (Stormtroopers Of Death), a crossover thrash band from New York City. Burn The Priest uses their natural ability to tighten a very fast-paced thrash song to make this cover one of my favorites from Legion XX. Also Burn the Priest’s rendition is considerably heavier than the original which really unlocks this song’s potential and hardcore sound.

Part of the allure with this album is the natural classic punk sound enveloped within the heavy riffs that Burn The Priest brings to the songs. Scratchy tones mixed with raw and tampered vocals give the songs a sound like they were recorded in the 90’s. The tracks chosen predominantly consist of rhythmic jams and instrumental folly, yet familiar to the real fans of the bands that Burn The Priest chose to showcase on Legion XX. The overall album is performed with the precision and caliber you would expect from a band that has been together for two decades, however Legion XX is presented with the unmistakable raw, punk-driven sound that originally sparked the creative juices in four unsuspecting college students and a line cook turned vocalist.

This album, acting as a time stamp for where Burn The Priest were sonically at the time of the band’s creation, speaks to what led them to develop Legion XX 20 years later. Because of this it seems truly fitting that Lamb of God release the album under the original Burn The Priest moniker. Produced by Josh Wilbur (Korn, Trivium, Megadeth), Legion XX exhibits Burn The Priest in its true element.

Legion XX will be officially released on May 18th, 2018 and will be available for purchase via all physical and digital retailers. On the street date, a 7” vinyl version of “Inherit The Earth” featuring a B-side of “In The Meantime” (originally performed by Helmet), will also be available.

Currently, Lamb Of God is touring as support on Slayer’s final world tour, North American legs one and two. Lamb Of God will also perform select one-off dates, as well as headline shows featuring support from Behemoth and Napalm Death.

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