Courtesy: Epic Records
Lamb of God has, over the course of some two decades, made quite the name for itself within the metal community. It has, in fact, made such an impact that it has come to be considered in some circles as one of the metal world’s elite acts. Before rising to such fame, the Richmond, Virginia-based band went by another name and was working just as hard to make a name for itself. It went by the name Burn the Priest, which obviously makes it a good thing that the band decided to change names. Of course while the band changed its names, it never has forgotten its roots, as is evidenced in its new tribute/covers collection Legion: XX. Released just this past Friday, the 10-song compilation pays tribute to the bands that inspired Lamb of God, Nee Burn The Priest while also using the band’s former name to put emphasis on that former name to show where Lamb of God is and has been. It is definitely a record that is aimed at Lamb of God’s most devout fans that ironically serves as its own music history lesson at the same time for audiences in general. That shows a dual purpose here that adds even more to the record’s value. The arrangements presented in each song play their own collective role in the album’s presentation that deserves attention, so it will be discussed later. The record’s sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation and will also be discussed later. Each element is important in its own right to the album’s whole. All things considered, Legion: XX proves to be a record that will appeal both to Lamb of God’s most devout fans and to the rock and metal “legions” around the world.
Burn The Priest/Lamb of God’s new tribute to its roots Legion: XX is an interesting new offering from the band. On the surface, it does come across as one of those obligatory contract satisfying space fillers. On another level though, it is a little bit more than that. First, it is a tribute in itself to the bands that inspirited Lamb of God’s members. Second, it is a music history lesson for the rock and metal masses who otherwise might not have been overly familiar with those same bands. Case in point, the cover of Cro-Mags’ ‘We Gotta Know.’ The band itself started way back in the 1980s, so while some of LOG’s fans might be familiar with that band, odds are the majority are not so familiar with the band, let alone the song. That is even with ‘We Gotta Know’ getting attention on MTV. The song was included in Cro-Mags’ 1986 debut album The Age of Quarrel, so again, likely only a certain cross-section of LOG’s fans today are that familiar with this record. Bad Brains is another relatively well-known band in its own right because of its punk and hard rock leanings. Yet today it is, again, likely not as well-known as the bands that it influenced. So having this forebear included in the mix – with one of its biggest hits no less – is important to note. Considering Bad Brains’ overall sound and that of Burn The Priest/Lamb of God, one can definitely hear the influence on the latter by the prior. Sliang Laos is probably the absolute least known of the bands included in this compilation. Fellow Richmond, Virginians, this band was known to a very limited audience, and has until now remained so incognito – for lack of better wording. So, having that band included here with its more well-known counterparts can only serve a positive purpose for the band’s legacy. What’s more, the other bands featured in this compilation are just as positively served because of the rejuvenated attention on their histories and music. Keeping that in mind, the bands and songs featured in this collection may make it a contractually obligated space filler, but it’s one that still at least serves some purpose. Keeping this in mind, while the songs and bands featured form a strong foundation for this record, they are not, collectively, its only important element. The arrangements of said songs are just as important to discuss as the songs themselves.
The arrangements presented here are so important to discuss because they stay so close to their source material and because of the variety in their sounds. BTP/LOG cover of The Melvins’ ‘Honey Bucket’ supports that statement. The cover included in Legion: XX sticks almost exactly to the original, with the only difference being between Randy Blythe’s scathing vocal delivery and that of Roger Osborne. Osborne sounds on the Melvins’ original more akin to Metallica front man James Hetfield in his youth while Blythe’s vocal delivery is far more brutal. That is not a comparison of who’s better. Rather it is merely an objective notice. Keeping that in mind, BTP/LOG’s take on this thrash classic will definitely appease those who are familiar with the original. The same can be said of the cover of Ministry’s ‘Jesus Built My Hot Rod.’ Though in the case of this one, the major difference comes in the song’s spoken word intro. Whereas Al Jourgensen made a rather blasphemous statement about Jesus in the original song’s introduction, Blythe was smart enough not to go that route. Instead, he jokingly said Jerry Lee Lewis was the devil and that “Jesus was an architect previous to his career as a prophet.” That goes in line with the story that Burn The Priest became Lamb of God in order to keep itself from being mislabeled as a Satanic band. It shows a certain thought on the part of Lamb of God’s members (especially Randy Blythe) to go that route instead of Al Jourgensen’s more blasphemous route. Other than that, the two takes are virtually identical. The same can be said of the cover of Sliang Laos’ ‘Axis Riot.’ The cover featured here sticks almost entirely to its source material, right down to Blythe’s vocal delivery. Yes, Blythe actually opts for a clean delivery here just as was done with the original instead of his trademark cookie monster growl. It’s a nice change of pace, and also serves to show Blythe’s true range. It’s something hopefully he will consider utilizing more in Lamb of God’s future albums. Keeping this in mind, this is just one more way in which the arrangements in this record prove to be so important to its overall presentation. The band doesn’t try to go over the top, nor does the band try to go in any different route, opting instead to stick to their source material. When that is considered along with the value of the musical history lesson provided by the songs themselves, those two elements together make this record all the more worthwhile for the most devout BTP/LOG fans. Even as important as they are to the record’s whole, they are not its only important elements. The record’s sequencing is the last touch to note in examining its whole.
Audiences who have yet to pick up Legion: XX will be pleased to know that the sequencing of this record is just as applause-worthy as its songs and their arrangements. The record starts off full-throttle with the cover of The Accused’s ‘Inherit The Earth.’ From there, the energy doesn’t let up for even a moment. That is even as the varied styles change from one song to the next. The change of that song to the full on hard rock assault of ‘Honey Bucket’ to the more brooding ‘Kerosene’ in the record’s first trio of works clearly exemplifies this statement. The band keeps things moving solidly with the equally solid hard rock arrangement of ‘I Against I’ before moving into the semi-punk vibe of ‘Axis Riot.’ The variance in the songs’ energies is just as slight from here on right to the record’s end. The end result is a record whose energies from start to finish are just as certain to keep listeners engaged and entertained as its songs and their arrangements. All three elements play together to make the album overall a record that is certain to appeal to a wide range of rock “legions.” Yes, that pun was intended.
Lamb of God’s tribute/covers album, which pays tribute to its own past and the bands that influenced its members, is a record that even being another covers record, is certain to appeal to a wide range of rock and metal fans. This is proven in part through the record’s featured songs. The songs’ arrangements are just as important as the songs themselves in keeping listeners’ ears. That is because while staying true to their source material, these arrangements keep still add their own touch to make the originals just as hard-hitting as ever. The energies in the arrangements put the final touch to the album, ensuring once and for all, listeners’ engagement throughout. At this point, it should be clear why all three noted elements are so critical to Legion: XX both alone and collectively. All things considered, they make Legion: XX a record that will appeal just as much to LOG/BTP’s most devout fans as it will to rock and metal audiences in general. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Legion: XX is available online now along with all of Lamb of God’s latest news and more at:
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