New Jersey's Grim Legion exhumed their debut LP "Unholy Resurrection" this month on Philly's own Horror Pain Gore Death Productions label. I say exhumed, as Grim Legion formed in 1988, were active until '91, and finally reformed in 2011 to release to further demos with fellow New Jersian and current labelmate Mike Keller of Sacrificial Blood on drums (Mike has since moved on to focus entirely on Sacrificial Blood, check out their 2nd LP "Souls For Sale" for some outstanding speed metal with deathy, progressive, and classic heavy metal leanings). Grim Legion also bears the distinction of having John Paradiso of doomy death metallers, Evoken, on guitars and backing vocals as a founding member.
For fans who're familiar, you'll find an excellent and soon-to-be classic release. Otherwise, this is a great place to start your metal journey and support some local talent, as this is more a genre-defining rather than genre-changing release. The guitars are bloated, loose and down-tuned with plenty of chunk and tremolo alternerations splattered with squeals. The drums are loud, driving, and even commanding; they are loud in the mix. For vocals we have classic deep growls and mid-pitch screams occasionally peppering the mix with some insanity. My only complaints are that the snare is often too loud in the mix and the guitar a bit too muddy at times, but these are minor. The lyrics have more of a anti-religious tilts but there's plenty of classic death metal tropes as well.
The packaging features a horde of advancing skeleton warriors atop steeds, which has some great colors and the simple but effective Grim Legion logo. The concept works well but the execution is lacking as it looks a rather cartoonish and very digital. We do get 9 tracks, including an eerie and demented sounding intro, with stand-out cuts, for me, in the doomy riffs of "Dark Ritual" and the stuttering, swinging beat of the eponymous closer "Unholy Resurrection."
Full album stream and interview at: http://www.decibelmagazine.com/featured/streaming-grim-legions-unholy-resurrection/
I am proud to boast that I also have the "Unholy Resurrection" demo, purchased when I saw Grim Legion at 2012's "You Can't Kill The Dead" Festival in Brooklyn, alongside Bone Ritual, Mausoleum, and Engorged, amongst others. Hopefully the older ones will be reissued. Yes, the show was highly memorable (except for the bummer that Abazagorath cancelled) and I recommend trying to catch any of the aforementioned acts, especially Grim Legion (this IS a post about them, after all!).
And now, an amusing anecdote: whilst strolling about at 2013's Maryland Deathfest, I stumbled into John Paradiso setting up Evoken merch. We started talking and I quickly brought up Grim Legion as I had the aforementioned demo and was fiending for more (note: all of the prior material is exceedingly hard to find). He was elated that someone knew Grim Legion and appreciated it, promising me an album "next year." So, here we are, after almost 12 months of waiting, and I am NOT disappointed. I am just glad I didn't have to wait as long as old-school fans! Thanks John and Grim Legion past and present for bringing some killer material, I will look forward to some more shows this year! I will also hope that it doesn't take so long to release the next full-length, but for material this good, it's worth it.
*Review copyright The Samnambulist, 2014*