Burn The Priest – Legion: XX album review

Lamb Of God salute their punk and hardcore heroes

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Legion: XX

1. Inherit the Earth
2. Honey Bucket
3. Kerosene
4. Kill Yourself
5. I Against I
6. Axis Rot
7. Jesus Built My Hotrod
8. One Voice
9. Dine Alone
10. We Gotta Know

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Although Lamb Of God have never given any impression that they would be prepared to compromise for greater success, the band’s last album, VII: Sturm Und Drang, and subsequent standalone single, The Duke, both hinted at a slight mellowing of approach. Whether the mixed response both received had any influence on the quintet’s decision to revive their original moniker and slap together a brutish and snotty covers album will doubtless remain a mystery, but Legion: XX definitely feels like a furious reaction to something. Ostensibly a tribute to the punk, hardcore and underground rock bands that fuelled their youthful musical efforts, Burn The Priest’s song choices alone make this vastly more appealing than most similar projects. We know these men can play thunderous groove/thrash metal, and so rather than state the obvious with Slayer and Testament covers, we can marvel at precisely how eyeball-poppingly incensed Randy Blythe sounds on the opening demolition of The Accused’s Inherit The Earth and how disgustingly heavy Bad Brains’ I Against I becomes in the hands of musicians with deep roots in punk rock and heavy metal.

The best moments are the curveballs: a genuinely unhinged lurch through Axis Rot, a song originally performed by Sliang Laos, whom Randy has described as “probably the greatest band ever to come out of Richmond”; a bruising and wickedly claustrophobic reworking of the Steve Albini-led Big Black’s crowning glory, Kerosene; and most riotous of all, a full-throttle Lamb-ified clatter through Ministry’s Jesus Built My Hotrod, which somehow manages to sound even more joyously off-its-chuff than the original. Chuck in balls-out, bellicose renditions of songs by Quicksand, Melvins, S.O.D., Agnostic Front and Cro-Mags, and this could hardly be a better reminder that Lamb Of God/Burn The Priest are just pissed-off gutterpunks at heart. Those beards are fooling no one after this.