Friday, August 26, 2011

Legion of Doom - God is Dead (2005)

Perhaps the most melodic and atmospheric of Legion of Doom's works, God is Dead expands upon the average but appreciable legacy of the prior albums with a better sense for variation and narrative embellishments. That's not to say that I necessarily like it more than Kingdom of Endless Darkness or For Those of the Blood, and in fact I feel it has less of an ultimate impact. But it's clearly a positive that the band would mildly reinvent themselves for such a release rather than persist as a 90s Scandinavian sound-alike. The classic artwork and Nietzschean overtones of the title seem like a swerve away from the mythological and fantastic Greek elements the band were lyrically incorporating, but this is not actually the case: God is Dead is just as concerned with the divine, occult and ritualistic as its precursors.

The Legion of Doom truly paces itself with this album, giving the majority of the tracks room to breathe. "Necromantion" is almost Cradle of Filth-like, with a ton of Gothic based keys, a cutesy rasp and deeper, conversational narrative being applied to the thrusts of moderate speed. "Bridge of Lunar Tears" returns to a raunchier, desperate melodic strain of writing with thick streams of melancholia in the notation; while "Lasselanta" hones further in on the guitars, for some memorable, mid-paced melodies that accelerate much like a lot of the Swedish 90s melodic death metal (At the Gates, Dissection, old In Flames or Dark Tranquillity). Ditto for "Sacrifice and War" and "Ancient Wisdom Within", the latter my favorite single track on the album. There are also a couple of pompous, ambient/organ pieces like "Message from the Gods" and "Illusions" that are very well managed, although they don't necessarily do wonders for the overall structure of the album.

God is Dead does feel a decade too late. Had this album dropped in 1995, it would have likely become a veritable cult favorite. The sound, the riffing, all seem highly redolent of black and melodic black/death releases of that period, and it carries a clear current of accessibility when compared to either of the previous records. Then again, they DID release two decent efforts during that period, and received little fanfare, as those fascinated by the emergent Hellenic scene were likely more interested in the unique sounds of Rotting Christ, Necromantia, etc. I will admit that the album plays it rather safe, and there's not a song among these which I'd rank alongside past pieces like "ARSIS...God of Brutal War", "The Black Queen", "For Those of the Blood" in terms of total quality. The cleaner production and generally slower tempos here are not unwelcome or unpleasant, but it doesn't scream cult classic either. One of those albums I could listen to and nod along with, then subsequently forget that I ever had experienced.

Verdict: Indifference [6.75/10]
(I ignore them from my throne)

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