Burn The Priest – Legion: XX
Released: 18th May, 2018
Burn The Priest Line up:
Randy Blythe | Vocals
Mark Morton | Guitar
Will Adler | Guitar
John Campbell | Bass
Chris Adler | Drums
Burn The Priest/Lamb Of God online:
Cover albums are always a bit hit and miss, especially in the world of metal. Undisputed Attitude, Slayer’s effort back in 1996 is often panned as the bands weakest album, and Metallica’s Garage Inc. is okay, but often strays far into pretentious territory. Others, like Rage Against The Machine’s Renegades could easily pass as the bands own offerings, while I’ve yet to hear Less Than Jake do a cover I don’t like.
Lamb of God’s offering falls into the latter. Being released under the band’s original name, Burn The Priest, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first album, Legion: XX is a smattering of underground punk covers that helped to shape the band’s signature sound. The original bands range from underground legends to the completely obscure, and if you’re a big a rock nerd like me, this album may consequently lead you down a few YouTube black holes trying to seek some of these bands out.
It must be said too, at times, the album strays into a somewhat more experimental territory, which results in some of the more stand out moments of the album.
Opening with Inherit The Earth, the band tears into this track from The Accused with typical Lamb Of God vigour, however with a more punk/hardcore spirit, thanks to Randy Blythe’s deep affection for the genre, giving the sense that Burn The Priest could be considered more of an alter-ego. The hyperactive pace continues into Honey Bucket, although slows slightly to acknowledge the sludgier signature that belonged to the songs original owners, The Melvins.
The short and sweet track leads us into a melodic intro for Big Black song Kerosene, and this is where we dip back into familiar LOG territory, with an awesome grove, topped with a cool bass sound on the riff of the verse. At the same time, we’re treated to the first of many journeys into some more diverse vocal styles for Randy, with a great punk sneer for the verse, before bringing it back to his signature screaming. The accompanying video is cool, offering an eerie take on suburban America.
Next up, Kill Yourself, originally by Stormtroopers Of Death (S.O.D) is another short, frenetic burst of thrash metal. If it sounds a little like Anthrax, then good pickup – more old school metal fans would know S.O.D as a side project of various Anthrax members back in the mid 80’s. LOG/BTP does this song justice, with guitarists Mark Morton and Will Adler bringing that classic ‘stomp metal’ trademark of Scott Ian to the main riffs.
I against I is from the Bad Brains, who Randy Blythe cites as his favourite band of all time. There’s some great instrumentation here, and Randy channels his favourite band to deliver a stellar tribute, clearly a man who loves his old-school punk.
The cool thing I’m also hearing throughout the album is some little ‘outtake’ style outros from the vocals, giving the album a great raw edge. And Randy again gives us a different side of his vocal style with Axis Rot, a cover by a band called Sliang Laos.
Let’s pause for a sec – up to this point, if you’re either under a certain age or perhaps not brushed up on your rock/punk history, the original bands I’ve been mentioning might have you smiling politely like Homer Simpson at the Smashing Pumpkins, with nary a clue of who some of these older bands are.
But If you’ve never heard of Sliang Laos, like I haven’t, you’d be forgiven. A more thorough Google shows them as a mid-90’s band hailing from Lamb Of God’s area of Richmond, Virginia.
They sound…different, I’ll give them that. But they’ve obviously made a mark upon someone from LOG/BTP, and the band give them a good homage. Most of the original bands given treatment on Legion: XX are relatively obscure but are obviously dear enough to the members of Lamb of God to have earned inclusion on this cover record.
Ministry is a band I have heard of, however – they’re an industrial metal band who’ve been around since the late 80’s, and Jesus Built My Hotrod is one of their bigger hits. This is another song which takes LOG/BTP into experimental territory, bleeding rockabilly and country stylings, before leading into a solid metal groove. Again, we hear Randy give a different vocal performance usually expected of him, which isn’t a bad thing and hopefully we see him take some of this to future Lamb of God albums. There’s also some cool slide guitar in there.
The bass rumble and drums of One Voice are next, delving back into metal/hardcore territory thanks to the songs parents, Agnostic Front. We once again then wade into a more different performance from the band, thanks to Dine Alone, a slower jam that’s originally from a band called Quicksand. I like how the album overall has offered the band a chance to try a few different ideas, and this track’s middle section is a nice slow build to its conclusion.
The final track, We Gotta Know, written by a band called Cro-Mags, finishes Lamb of God’s journey into hardcore territory as Burn The Priest. Overall, the amount of effort put into the songs of Legion: XX is typical of the workhorse that is Lamb of God, yet you get the sense that they had a heck of a lot of fun thrashing out a bit of hardcore.
While the subsequent name change and the development into groove metal earned Lamb of God its place as a dominant name in metal today, it’s cool to imagine that, somewhere in an alternate universe, Burn The Priest continues to unleash its hardcore stylings on audiences around America.
Burn The Priest – Legion: XX tracklisting
- Inherit The Earth
- Honey Bucket
- Kill Yourself
- I against I
- Axis Rot
- Jesus Built My Hotrod
- One Voice
- Dine Alone
- We Gotta Know