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For Those of the Blood is the second full-length album from Legion of Doom. Released in 1997, this album may be responsible for the fact that the band never rose to the same level of notoriety as fellow Greek bands such as Rotting Christ or Necromantia. Rather than develop more of their own style, or even to adopt the type of approach that was being utilized by many in the Hellenic black metal scene, Legion of Doom continued to take their cues from the northern lands and made some of the same mistakes.
One cannot find many flaws in the songwriting department. As it compares to Kingdom of Endless Darkness, the basic material is in the same vein. However, there is much less of a Burzum influence on this record. Instead, most of the tremolo riffs and rapid drumming seem inspired by early Darkthrone, primarily, as well as Emperor and a few others from Norway. While it is not, necessarily, a bad thing that they still followed the lead of their Scandinavian heroes. This album introduces a very strong symphonic element that waters down the atmosphere and gives it a rather cheesy feeling. The synth is overused and done in an improper manner to begin with, taking away any possibility that the song had to maintain a dark feeling. Furthermore, the actual riffs are much more generic and less memorable. "Messenger..." manages to stand out among the rest of the average and mediocre tracks, mostly due to being more straightforward and placing the emphasis back on the guitars, where it belongs. "Κυρες" would be included in that, as well, but the percussion overpowers the riffs, at times. Legion of Doom still employed a drum machine, at this point, and they did not seem concerned with making sure it was buried in the mix.
As for the rest of the production, the overall sound is a little cleaner than on the previous album. The guitar tone, especially, lacks the raw edge that it possessed on Kingdom of Endless Darkness and loses a bit of character as a result. It comes off as a bit more smooth and polished, though it is still far from drowning in the typical modern, plastic sound. It actually sounds rather necro, if one compares it to an album like Triarchy of the Lost Lovers, for example. The drum machine is too high, taking a bit of the attention away from the guitar riffs. The grim vocals are still right where they should be, in relation to the guitars.
Skipping the instrumentals, there is less than half an hour of music on this album. Of that material, a good deal of it is tainted by symphonic nonsense that does nothing to add to the dark feeling that should have been the main goal of For Those of the Blood. In the end, this record represents a drop in quality from its predecessor. Less selective listeners may be able to look past its flaws, but I would say that this L.P. is somewhat disappointing and less worth the time to track down.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
It's rather a surprise that Legion of Doom's sophomore effort was not more highly regarded upon its inception, because its easily one of the better produced black metal records of its day, and takes some marginal strides beyond the debut Kingdom of Endless Darkness in terms of songwriting quality and overall impact. Perhaps it was the fact that people were not yet suckling at the trough for the Greek underground (sadly, they still aren't), or the NSBM connotations the band had developed (though most of their lyrics dabble elsewhere), but For Those of the Blood deserved better than it got. Granted, this is hardly a front runner for cult classic status, and it's not the most innovative nor memorable record in its class, but it's timeless enough that it doesn't sound an inkling less fresh now than then.
You'll note that the synthesized symphonic touches have increased here, not only through the pure organ/ambient segues "Sunrise of the Golden Dawn" and "Το Μυςτικο Του Κοχυλιou" but also incorporated straight into the charging black metal rhythms; especially useful in the grand, desperate opener "Narjniian's Eternal Winter", through which the grinding melodies are granted a Gothic grandeur of anfractuous organ play. Or the bridge of the title track, in which the band's draconian thunder is adjoined by a soaring keyboard clarion. Mostly, I'm reminded of the 1994 epic In the Nightside Eclipse by Emperor, only slightly less complex in execution and decidedly cleaner in production. I never got the same impression of tortured, wintry darkness as there, but Legion of Doom played pretty fast and unrelenting without ignoring the virtues of variation, and I enjoy how some of the blasts drop out, spoken words are introduced over the still-driving chords ("For Those of the Blood"), a prime precursor to hostile escalation.
Still, there are songs in here which do become rather vapid and predictable in riffing patterns ("Ερινυες... Δαιμωνες Φτερωτoi" or the brief "Messenger..."), and even at its heights, the first three tracks, the album is not strictly memorable. There's nothing here necessarily that you hadn't already gotten better from several predecessors out of Scandinavia, and it does ignore the characteristic Greek glories of slower to mid paced material overborne with pagan eccentricities. The lyrical topics here range from mythology to pride to black magick, and they definitely pay homage to their country's great past here, through Daimon's grimy and constipated rasping. To its credit, For Those of the Blood does sound just as polished and potent as it did those many years ago, and for those seeking out the balanced attack inclement in much of the European black underground of the mid-90s, it's worth hearing. Just don't expect to be struck down by a feat of Herculean proportions.
This might be Legion Of Doom's hardest to appreciate release; in many regards, it's very inconsistent, and in many ways seems remarkably different from the rest of the band's catalog; even 'The Desecration' and its strange forays into Bathory worship seem a more immediate partner to albums like 'Kingdom Of Endless Darkness' than this one in numerous places. This isn't to say that 'For Those Of The Blood' isn't a worthwhile listen; like all of Legion Of Doom's full-length releases, it's excellent throughout and is worthy of a great deal more attention than the band typically receives. What I am saying, however, is that this is probably not as essential as releases like the first LP or 'God Is Dead', but is certainly an item you'll want to pick up if you want to the full Legion Of Doom catalog; if you just want the barest essentials of the band's output, you might look elsewhere.
The essential thing making this such a difficult listen, surprisingly enough, is the album's brevity. Clocking in at barely over a half hour, and with a significant amount of that time swallowed up by a pair of neoclassical/folk tracks devoid of the band's customary black metal fury, this is a very lean release that barely has enough time to conjure an atmosphere before it ends. In some ways it feels incomplete; the stark difference in production between the opening track and the rest points to this being closer to a compilation than a complete work, although all the songs contained on this disc are strong and worth hearing. I'd be lying, though, if I said the relative thinness of content wasn't at least a bit irritating; just a few more tracks could have done a lot to make this album a more complete picture of the band at this time, though I'm certainly not complaining about the quality of the material actually present.
The music itself is a faster paced and more aggressive variety of what's found on 'Kingdom Of Endless Darkness': epic yet understated black metal with subtle undercurrents of traditional metal, yet almost completely and notably devoid of thrash. The result of this intentional repression of rock and roll influence makes for very stark and grandiose music that at no point feels like it's striving to be so, though certain points on 'For Those Of The Blood' feel closer to more open displays of dogma than elsewhere in the band's catalog. This album brings a more extensive and fundamental use of keys, which are actually used as a main melodic voice ala Slavic symphonic black metal on tracks like 'Narjniians Eternal Winter'. Unlike bands such as Nokturnal Mortum and early Lucifugum, however, the keys never seem to be used to add an established variety of beauty to the mix; they're used to accentuate the dark and wintry landscape the band crafts with simple, textured guitar riffs and Abbath-squared vocal snarls.
Legion Of Doom has an affinity for generating atmospheres that are at once austere and rich in their austerity, and this album doesn't buck that trend. Tracks like the aforementioned opener follow in the footsteps of 'Kingdom Of Endless Darkness', using slowly and gradually shifting song structures to make for songs which end up being much more than the sum of their parts. Every track on this album, including some of the shorter, more blistering ones, feels heavily composed and likely the result of long periods of refinement. Tempo shifts are infrequent, allowing the music to follow its own path without being unnecessarily plotted out by unsure musicians. The production is a bit problematic; the guitars are at a strange register that makes them nearly impossible to hear if there's any background noise (unless you're wearing headphones), so keep that in mind; it took me a while to figure out why I couldn't hear anything on his release, but a couple listens in relative solitude managed to fix that.
The brevity of this release annoys me, but I can in no way deny the pure quality of the music on display. Legion Of Doom does not lose step at all from 'Kingdom Of Endless Darkness', and even the interlude tracks are engaging and enrapturing in their dignified simplicity; while it's short for my tastes, it does somewhat make up for it by never having a dull moment. While this is not the most essential Legion Of Doom release, it's highly recommended to black metal fans whose ears have matured; a little bit of time and focus reveals music lightyears beyond what most are cranking out, and certainly exactly the sort of thing many are looking for if burnt out on the tropes of the style.
Legion Of Doom are one of the first nsbm bands to appears and really stand for what they were thinking. Their 2 first albums, meaning Kingdom Of Endless Darkness and For Those Of The Blood are in my opinion, two of the best releases of the genre and are highly underrated.
What we have here with For Those Of The Blood is true black metal in the vein of the early years combined with beautiful keys making instant classic such as "Narjniians Eternal Winter", "For Those Of The Blood and "Erinyes... Daimones Fterotoi". These are the best songs on the album the others being quit very good too but too short, there's also a few instrumental songs worth listening.
Music wise, guitars, bass, can be reminiscent of Darkthrone in the beginning of 90, but the keys add a totally different atmosphere and the production is better than any Darkthrone albums. Vocally, it's quit unique, the signer use a long persistant shrek making the vocals sound really hateful.
For Those Of The Blood is in my top 10 best album of all time in black metal, and you sure should check it out. I give it 92% because for a full-length, 30:30 minutes is not long enough in my opinion, as for the rest, this is honest music, provocative and controversial. Give this a try, especially since it has been re-released by ISO666, making the two first out-of-print albums available again in unlimited quantities.