Review: “Legion : XX” by Burn The Priest (Lamb Of God)

The build up for any Lamb of God release is always going to pretty eventful, the band having become to many the new Pantera with the likes of huge single “Redneck” from 2009’s “Wrath”. A covers album entitled “Legion : XX” under their original moniker Burn The Priest to celebrate their 20th anniversary was the surprise news and perhaps even more surprising, the fact that for the most part it would be a tribute to hardcore punk. That for one, takes out the obvious Megadeth cover, with drummer Chris Adler being a massive fan, however having exited his stint as fill-in drummer with some acrimony. A cover of “Into The Pit” by Testament would also have been a nice touch, especially with the similarities between it and their own “Laid To Rest” as we previously mentioned.

Instead what we have is a 10 track affair that starts of with “Inherit The Earth” by The Accused. An obvious first single when listening through the album and perhaps the most obvious of the tracks to pick when throwing one into the bands live set going forward. Lamb Of God manage to capture the energy of the original well, with pace and power while the trademark Randy Blythe vocal deliver a punch. “Honey Bucket” by Melvins is the second cut and pretty different to the version that The Dillinger Escape Plan recorded for “We Reach: The Music Of The Melvins” tribute album. It sticks close to the original but with a heavier Lamb Of God guitar tone – indeed, throughout the album the band stick to the same production value, guitar tones and clean, crisp drum sounds, which gives the whole album a decent cohesion, something that is often missing from covers albums. “Kerosene ” by Big Black is the first step away from the hardcore punk vibe, playing tribute to the Evanston, Illinois punks who were amoung the forerunners of the industrial scene. Avoiding the temptation to use the drum machine of the original and take on board any electronics, unlike the Pitchshifter version and instead go with what they are is a nice touch. “Kill Yourself” by S.O.D. (or Storm Troopers Of Death) is perhaps an obvious choice in the crossover thrash category, however having not done the obvious “March of the S.O.D.” & “Sargent D and the S.O.D.” in combination unlike Entombed keeps things fresh while also paying tribute to one of the most influential crossover thrash albums of all time. “I Against I” by Bad Brains sees Randy Blythe pay tribute to his biggest hero in H.R., whom he surprisingly filled in at short notice for a handful of shows while he had brain surgery.

“Axis Rot” by Sliang Laos, the band Randy Blythe called “probably the greatest band ever to come out of Richmond” when talking to Decibel Magazine in 2011. Richmond, Virginia being the home town of both bands and Sliang Laos being the one band that most Metal Heads who aren’t Lamb Of God fans probably won’t have heard of. Having listened to the original especially for this review, it’s a solid version that shows another side of Randy Blythe’s vocals. “Jesus Built My Hotrod”by Ministry is perhaps the most “out there” choice on paper for this album. As with their Big Black cover, when taking on one of the biggest names in industrial metal, they skip over the electronics completely and instead go in with what they have. Chris Adler’s metronomic drumming and John Campbell’s steady bass are key to this while guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler smash the guitar parts. Spoken word lyrical content from Randy Blythe complete the song in some style. It’s highly unlikely to appear in the bands live set, but it’s a fitting tribute. “One Voice” by New York veteran hardcore punks Agnostic Front sees a welcome return to the heavier vocals and is a far more obvious cover choice for the band, short, sweet and effective. In paying their tribute to one another one of the crossover thrash pioneers, Lamb Of God play to their own strengths. “Dine Alone” by Quicksand sees a reach to a heavier version of a post-hardcore staple and perhaps one of New York’s most underrated and under appreciated bands. For Lamb Of God, it’s the opportunity to show a mellower side to the band without selling out. “We Gotta Know” by Cro-Mags is another crossover thrash hardcore punk cut that closes the album out in style. This is one which may feature in the bands live set and a pretty obvious choice in that their iconic “Age Of Quarrel” album saw band creator Harley Flanagan in his finest hour and the and at their most influential. Everyone from Machine Head (“Hard Times”) to Shadows Fall (“Age Of Quarrel”) and Hatebreed (“It’s The Limit”) have taken turns to cover material from the band so to see the opener from that album done here and done well is a master stroke.

As musicians, there is a pretty limited number of options when it comes to the next release. New album. Re-recording of previous work with new or current line-up. Live album. Live DVD. Covers album. If you’re relatively new on the scene, a split EP with another like minded band. Covers albums can be a mixed bag. They can be eclectic, eccentric and down right bizarre at times, a prime example of which is “The Anatomy Of” by Between The Buried And Me. When doing the covers, do you try and match the original in tribute? Do you put your own spin on things and take a risk? Do you play it safe with your song choices? or make some out there choice and be true to yourselves as musicians? They’re all tough choices. Many thought that “For The Lions” by Hatebreed didn’t take enough risk. What Lamb Of God have done is produce a collection of songs that you could well imagine them playing in their younger days in their parents garage or basement. It’s a release that will tide fans over to the next album, which will hopefully come around soon enough seeing as it has been 3 years since 2015’s “VII: Sturm und Drang”. Overall, it’s a solid album that does what it says on the tin and pays tribute to a wide range of masters but lacks that something truly special to make it unique [7/10].

1. Inherit The Earth – The Accused
2. Honey Bucket – Melvins
3. Kerosene – Big Black
4. Kill Yourself – S.O.D.
5. I Against I – Bad Brains
6.
Axis Rot – Sliang Laos
7. Jesus Built My Hotrod – Ministry
8. One Voice – Agnostic Front
9. Dine Alone – Quicksand
10. We Gotta Know – Cro-Mags

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