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Sifting through the carrion carnage. - 74%

hells_unicorn, February 13th, 2012

Music is best which shows rather than tells, though strong levels of subjectivity emerge when it concerns what kind of picture one prefers. The more extreme the tendencies of an album, the greater the level of clarity and vividness of the illustration it puts forth. Few would argue against the hybrid of doom and black metal being among the more extreme expressions of metallic imagery, but a young outfit from Wiltshire dubbing themselves Legions Of Crows are pushing the envelope in terms of how this stylistic medium can be presented. Consider the most profane usage of language, the most revolting of imagery, and the most nauseating of odors and roll them together into a stew of horrors with perhaps a slight helping of comedy and that is what lay in the nature of “Stab Me”, an album title blunt enough to depict its contents accurately.

The overall timbre of the album is a combination of expected and unexpected, the former manifesting in frustratingly slow and muddy guitar work with a slight element of traditional doom metal (think early Electric Wizard) and gut-pulverizing vileness that pretends at vocal noises, with or without additional processing depending on the song, while the latter becomes a smattering of gothic keyboard sounds and rather descriptive spoken narrations that would be enough to make Edgar Allen Poe’s rotting corpse vomit. This is an album that doesn’t quite come off as otherworldly, but it is definitely outlandish, even by the standards of a number of bands that obsess over disgusting imagery yet somehow anchor themselves into a musical box that is occasionally consonant and melodic.

Perhaps the most telling influences of this album are among the more unlikely given the genre, namely Dani Filth and Peter Steele. While vocally Attila is a bit too sepulchral and goblin-like to resemble Filth’s witching wails, there is a definite similarity in lyrical content, alongside a few off-kilter bits of stylistic splicing that are oddly reminiscent of Type O Negative. The opening song “Provident Hymn” is all but a direct plagiarized Anglican hymn, painted over with some moderately rough vocal work that all but clashes with the arrangement. Likewise, “Defecate” trails along in its toilet-based irreverence, really bringing home the Type O Negative influences again with a venomous, yet almost bluesy groove right out of the “Bloody Kisses” era, yet with vocals nasty enough for “Cruelty And The Beast”. At times it’s slightly funny, at others serious and somber sounding, but there is a continual sense of literal revulsion and oddly placed irony at work here. Perhaps this is best illustrated in “Bullshit Acres”, which first strikes the listener as a brilliant metaphor of human hypocrisy, yet after repeated listening makes one question if the song is literally describing a multi-acre plot of excrement.

It’s tough to know whether to laugh, cheer, or get sick when listening to this and that is actually part of this thing’s charm. This is an album that actually manages to be both overtly obvious in its intent, yet somehow enigmatic in spite of itself, mostly due to the gratuitous combination of lyrical imagery and bone-crushing primordial metallic sludge. It even mixes up its level of production fidelity from one song to the next, occasionally sounding like massive undertaking, while at others keeping things to a fuzz-heavy independent character. An additional twist even finds Paul Di’Anno, of all people, putting his characteristic vocals to one of these songs (the connection between early Iron Maiden and this band stylistically is nowhere to be found, just for the record). This is far from the greatest album ever recorded, but it is definitely among the more inviting curiosities to crop up out of the swamp of extreme metal, and is worth the time of anyone wishing to take a trip through the twilight zone.