Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Legionary - Arcane Divisions (2012)

Strongly linked to old school death/thrash metal, Legionary throw catchiness into the mix with their debut album, Arcane Divisions. Unlike the usual names like Morbid Angel, the band injects a dosage of melody into their music that I positively adore--"Absolute Supremacy" was crowned a favorite from my first listen of the debut full-length and remains so after nearly a dozen spins.
Although Legionary leans toward the death metal side of the spectrum--growled vocals, tremolo picked riffs, and blast beats--the thrash influences are all too evident and occasionally reminiscent of late eighties/early nineties dinosaurs Demolition Hammer and Morbid Saint.

But when the melodious beast comes into play, the sound changes entirely.

Not only limited to tremolo picking, guitarists Tony Barhoum and Alonso Maguiño bring a creamy, smooth lead tone to the table and decimate any lingering doubts of death metal's inability to be catchy and aggressive. The combination of intricacies and strong songwriting are indeed what makes Legionary's music so appealing but, without either of those, they might as well be another generic death metal act.

There isn't much to dislike about Arcane Divisions, either, because death and thrash influences mix so seamlessly, and the melodic guitar playing adds a layer of explosiveness to the music. The production, while clear, feels like a polished demo, instead of a compressed, mess of modern recording boorishness. Improvements may, however, lie within making the track list a bit more varied because, aside from catchy riffs and leads, each song has a certain familiarity that links most songs together as one, large piece depending on how you listen to the record.

For me, nonetheless, Arcane Divisions is one of the better recent death metal debuts because creativeness and consistency stand at the helm of the band's music. Although only two examples of Legionary's prowess, "Absolute Supremacy" and "Cursed Existence" represent the of the group's two sides--one overly melodic; the other sadistically thrashy and evil--the album is an excellent start to what will hopefully be a lengthy career.


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