Legions of War- Forced To The Ground

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Monday, December 30, 2013

Four years after their last full length album, Swedish black/thrash band Legions of War has returned with Forced To The Ground. With this new release the group flies through nine tracks of war themed material that offers a considerable amount of variation, using thrash and black metal as a base and adding in elements of traditional heavy metal and death metal on specific songs. Although not every song on the album stood out after repeated listens, the moments where Legions of War strikes the perfect balance between blistering intensity and chilling melodic leads still made them worth checking out.

While the instrumental pulls in a wide range of influences, fast paced and mid-tempo thrash is the foundation that many of the songs on Forced To The Ground are built off of. Legions of War aren’t quite as manic as some of the other bands out there that get categorized as black/thrash, but this doesn’t mean they are lacking in intensity. Each of the nine tracks has sections where the guitar work hits hard with a jagged edge, but there are melodic leads placed over top of this that prevent this band from feeling like a mere retro thrash re-tread. There are a lot of different styles prevalent throughout this release, as sometimes the group ups the melody significantly and throws some soaring leads that make the listener feel like they’re marching across the battlefield. It’s reminiscent of a number of different melodic black and death metal groups, and Legions of War combines it with thrash and heavy metal elements in order to stand out. Admittedly, despite the fact that the instrumentalists are able to keep things feeling different on each track they didn’t consistently hook me. There were a number of moments where everything came together and the riffs had me hitting the repeat button as soon as they came to an end, but some of the other sections came and went without leaving a lasting impression. When they’re at their peak these guys are really on to something, but I think they have just a bit more growing room left before they can hit that level from start to finish.

The vocals skew towards the harsher side, as singer Zyklon has a distorted scream/growl that stands above the instrumental work and adds extra bite to the songs. This is where some of the additional black metal influence breaks through, as some of the ranges that Zyklon hits have a similar feeling in the way that their delivery is as aggressive and in your face as possible. Backup vocals are present on some of the tracks and this helps to fill out the sound a bit more, particularly on “Pile of Corpses” where some much higher ranges are added into the mix. The performances are consistently strong, and this is one area where I think Legions of War is consistently able to deliver. I wouldn’t be opposed to the band using some more of those higher backup screams though, as they work nicely together with the primary vocal pitches and add that extra burst of energy whenever they appear.

Despite getting the black/thrash tag, Forced To The Ground has more of an old-school thrash feel with elements of melodic black and death metal added over top of it. Although this album doesn’t quite manage to stand out as one of my favorites of 2013, Legions of War still offers enough substance to be worth a recommendation to anyone with an interest in this type of metal. It is clear that this is a band that is getting better with each release they put out though, so expect to see them reach a truly standout level in the coming years.


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