Deicide’s Unholy Second Coming: A 30-Year Retrospective on “Legion” (Review)
Floridian death metal band Deicide's second album Legion celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Yesterday, in fact. Released on March 1st, 1992 via the now-defunct R/C Records, Legion is considered to be one of Deicide's signature releases, but is Legion better than the band's self-titled debut album? This debate rages on amongst diehard Deicide fans to this day. To honor the 30th anniversary of Legion, we are going to attempt to dissect this seminal album.
Deicide's debut album scared the living shit out of most people with its over the top Satanic image and lyrics. The band continued its Satanic slaughter on Legion, with its anti-Christian beliefs evident on bangers such as "Behead the Prophet (No Lord Shall Live)," "Holy Deception," and "In Hell I Burn." On Legion, Deicide strayed a bit from the more extreme elements they displayed on their debut by moving toward a more straightforward brutal aesthetic. Vocalist and bassist Glen Benton's powerful delivery is proof that he's still one of the best death metal vocalists in the scene today. However, the layered, double-tracked, maniacal demon shrieks he spewed on the first album aren’t as prominent on Legion. Finally, although the album is short at a mere 29 minutes (versus the debut's 33 minutes), not a second is wasted with any filler material whatsoever.
Eight essential tracks make up Legion, running the gamut of furious death metal's breadth with complex song structures, avoiding overly-technical riffs. The fabled Hoffman brothers' play off each other very well with their memorable riffs and chaotic solos, while the crushing double-kick drumming from Steve Asheim is relentless.
Once the backward-masked spoken word and bellowing goat intro of "Satan Spawn, the Caco-Daemon" commences, the band rips into the track with furious riffs and fast, chaotic rhythms, decorated with a killer bridge and a chant-able chorus. Follow-up track "Dead but Dreaming" contains some hooky riffs and galloping double kick drum patterns. "Repent to Die" is a technical track consisting of furious double bass patterns and chunky mid-paced riffing, while the tremolo-picked "Trifixion" is equally as powerful.
Kicking off side two is the ferocious "Behead the Prophet (No Lord Shall Live),” followed by the mid-paced intensity of "Holy Deception" and "In Hell I Burn," which possesses excellent groove and cadence, as well as some sinister and catchy riffs. Album closer "Revocate the Agitator" wraps up the album with an explosive, catchy main riff and an insanely maniacal chorus. As good as the album is, there aren’t as many tracks on Legion that match the catchiness or anthemic formula of the debut of tracks such as "Lunatic of God's Creation," "Sacrificial Suicide," and "Dead by Dawn"--although "Satan Spawn, the Caco-Daemon," "Dead but Dreaming," and "In Hell I Burn" come close as far as memorability goes.
Legion's production is thicker and sharper than the debut's rawer and more uninhibited sound. Recorded and mixed once again at the famed Morrisound Recording Studio in Tampa with up-and-coming producer Scott Burns, the album was produced by Deicide and mastered at Fullersound in Miami, FL. All the instruments shine through cleanly but not too polished for death metal. The guitar tone is sharp and vicious, while the bass is even audible here, although Benton closely follows the rhythmic pattern of the guitars. However, the overall mix is a bit off when it comes to Ashiem's bass drums, sounding somewhat muffled.
Is Legion Deicide’s crowning achievement? If their debut album was a game changer, then Legion did everything to top it. The songwriting was more cohesive and the musicianship really improved from its debut album. The band were at their tightest on Legion, as the tracks sound energetic, razor sharp, and scathing, while Asheim is a beast behind the kit. The legacy of Legion will live on as being one of the most evil, most brutal and most cohesive death metal albums ever created.