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A thrash metal punch in the face - 75%

mblidmark, May 31st, 2013

Dutch thrash metallers Legion Of The Damned have since 2005, when they reformed from former band Occult, released five full-length albums and toured with Cannibal Corpse, Sodom, Kreator and Celtic Frost, to name a few. Descent Into Chaos is their fifth studio album, recorded and mixed by Pain/Hypocrisy main man Peter Tägtgren.

When I think Legion Of The Damned I think explosive, pounding riffs and strong, simple choruses. This record is no exception and after a short, kind of typical intro track the album opens up aggressively (How else?) with the track Night Of The Sabbath which really sets the mood. The album continues in the same explosive spirit with no songs that would disappoint a headbanging audience, Shrapnel Rain being one of my personal favourites.

I am actually kind of surprised as to how varied and interesting this record manages to be. Granted, it is no marvel of different styles and influences; however, the individual songs have a lot of substance and variation. Lord Of The Flies is a brilliant example of this. It starts out with a minute-long acoustic intro before bursting out into a brilliant, heavy thrash monster reminding me a lot of Sodom.

Actually, the entire record gives me associations to Sodom and Destruction, a lot due to the spot-on production by Peter Tägtgren. This is the first Legion Of The Damned album not to be produced by Andy Classen and the sound differs distinctly with a more enjoyable guitar sound, less in-your-face drums and generally a more dynamic feeling than the preceding records. Not to forget singer Maurice Swinkels who does a phenomenal job spitting out the hateful lyrics – his characteristic voice really takes this music to another level. Overall the entire album seems well arranged and thought through and I would recommend Descent Into Chaos to anyone who enjoys the occasional thrash metal punch in the face!

Originally written for

Do you know who I am? I'm the chuggernaut, bitch - 70%

autothrall, January 7th, 2011

Of all the death/thrash bands out there, Legion of the Damned are easily one of the most seasoned. They know by now what makes such a hybrid work or not work, and such can only be expected of a band with almost 20 years of history behind them. Five albums as Occult, and now five albums as Legion of the Damned; the Dutch have never strayed from the path of productivity, so I'm happy to report that Descent Into Chaos is one of the better efforts to date under their newer moniker, trumping their last studio album (in 2008) which was well meaning, but all too forgettable. It appears that taking a few years to recoup and spend more time on the individual songs has paid off, because the band were non-stop from Malevolent Rapture through Cult of the Dead.

All you've gotta know is that this is extremely meaty thrash, performed with simple mechanics, that draws upon clear German influences ala Sodom, Kreator and Destruction. Naturally, the specter of Slayer hangs above the recording, but it hangs above most metal works of this caliber. Sometimes this is very obvious, as in "Holy Blood, Holy War" or "Killzone", the latter of which sounds very similar to Kreator's "Enemy of God". The 'death metal' nods come only in a few of the guitar patterns found in songs "The Hand of Darkness", "War is In My Blood", etc, which seem to draw slightly from a Morbid Angel or Deicide influence, but this is primarily modern, thick thrash that alternates between a lot of palm mute chugging and big chords that occasionally foray into some slightly more technical material; the bridge of "The Hand of Darkness" has a riff similar to something Destruction would write, for example. Some of the better tracks here are "Lord of the Flies" and "Desolation Empire", both landing later in the track list with quality groove riffs and manic, Germanic force.

Very rarely does it erupt into anything incendiary, and that is one of the drawbacks to most Legion of the Damned recordings. It all sounds huge in tone (this was mixed at Abyss Studios in Sweden), but it's built of familiar feeling riffs to the extent that no manner of cruel bluster in the vocals and writing can really compensate. Think of a mix of modern Destruction albums and the German band Dew-Scented and you'll come up with a close approximation of what happens on this disc. That being said, Descent Into Chaos is at least, for the most part, fun. If you bang it out in your car speakers, it sounds enormous and effective, and the thick low end of the mix will get most peoples' blood pumping and fists punching the head rest behind you while you're trying to drive. It's hard to imagine a room full of mosh hardy highwaymen not going ape shit over these tunes in the live setting, but the songs are not incredibly potent beyond such an image, and despite the better planning here, greatness still seems to elude this band.