Review: “Prison Realm” by Legionary

“For years, I’ve been wanting to have a clean singer on a Legionary record. As my melodies continued to get better, it just seemed like the next logical progression for me to take. I did everything else that I wanted to musically (write an 11-minute epic, write multiple brutal/epic EPs), so it just seemed like the right time. This new EP features Chris Clancy, vocalist of Mutiny Within, so fans of his work should love this EP. The first three tracks are brand new and mix the past brutal elements of Legionary with a new proggy feel, as well as the clean vocals. The melodies on this EP are my strongest yet, and I truly believe people will find that these tracks have a lot of replay value! The final track is a remake of an old Legionary song (the title track from our one and only album, Arcane Divisions). The original recording was less than stellar, but we always loved the track, so re-recording it felt like a great idea. This EP blends the new with the old!” ~ Frank D’Erasmo

Having once been a band in the conventional sense that played live shows with alarming regularity, these days Legionary is the solo project of multi instrumentalist mastermind Frank D’Erasm. Using the services of some of the best Metal musicians in the Tri-State area that surrounds his Bronx New York home he has been able to continue to bring his nightmarish visions in Melodic Death Thrash to life. The calibre of those musicians has been incredible and 2021 EP “From Darkness to False Light” saw Kragen Lum of Heathen, Brian Kingsland of Nile and Björn “Speed” Strid of Soilwork all make guest appearances. This time out he is joined by regular co-conspirator and former Legionary lead guitarist Tony Barhoum, vocalist Chris Clancy of Mutiny Within and bassist Mike Dreher of Condition Critical and Lich King while continuing with Ben Karas (Thank You Scientist, Slaughter Sun) for mixing and mastering duties.

Attacking in waves that seamlessly blend beautiful melody with Death Thrash aggression, “Question Everything” finds the kind of balance that others struggle to with slick transitions. Tony Barhoum delivers the kind of virtuoso lead and solo work often reserved for Power Metal while Chris Clancy gives us a powerful sing-a-long chorus with Traditional Heavy Metal roots as well as throat splitting harsh vocals during savage verses. His vocal range is incredible and used to full effect on this opening cut, Frank D’Erasmo ensuring that while the tempo shifts during each passage within the track, none of the energy is lost in order to incorporate the softer touches. Title track “Prison Realm” continues the flow with more in the way of rich leads and solos, a Groove Metal passage in the mid section a powerhouse moment before it bursts into another fretboard smouldering moment. As a lyricist D’Erasmo strikes a chord but it’s Clancy who benefits because his storytelling abilities in delivering the narrative shines through.

D’Erasmo is credited with drums however there are a few hallmarks which suggest that a drum machine may have been used. Not that using one is necessarily a bad thing in this day and age, they have evolved considerably since they first appeared but there are a couple of flat notes where the cymbal hits don’t flow though like they would naturally and some of the pacing is insane. Like Kevin Talley (ex-Suffocation, ex-Chimaira, ex-Dying Fetus) insane. Fortunately it doesn’t detract from the beauty and beast of the tracks that have been created and in some ways adds to their charm by giving them a colder, harder edge to contrast against the warmth of the clean vocal parts and melodic leads.

A powerhouse statement piece “Neuroweaponry” has enough razor sharp riffs to be considered a rival that Gillette take seriously, the rhythmic gymnastics and dexterity on display from the guitarists being nothing short of spellbinding throughout. The breakneck pace gets the adrenaline pumping but there are so many nuances that the brain simply can’t process them all in the first few listens, giving the record serious replay ability. Originally written by Tim Rocheny and revised by Brian Kingsland of Nile, “Arcane Divisions” is the one cut here that isn’t new as the title track of the 2012 Legionary album. This re-incarnation of the track sends shivers down the spine and with the Progressive Death Metal leaning melodic moment in the centre has Obscura vibes. An unstoppable force of nature with a lethal injection of Death Thrash, it’s seven and a half minutes that severs flesh from bone without outstaying its welcome. [8.5/10]

Track Listing

1. Question Everything
2. Prison Realm
3. Neuroweaponry
4. Arcane Divisions (Remake)

Prison Realm” by Legionary is out 14th June 2024 and is available over at bandcamp

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