Though it took a little while to fully convince, Forced To The Ground from Swedish metallers Legions Of War has emerged as a rather exciting and individual slab of blackened thrash metal. Whether the nine track album simply wore down doubts and defences or something clicked in the psyche it is hard to actually say but after numerous exploits within its sonic warfare the clouds of uncertainty parted for a richly satisfying encounter to rampage through.
The Inferno Records released Forced To The Ground comes after the quartet’s well-received debut album Towards Death of 2009 and two years later the Riding With The Blitz EP. The new release builds on the promise of the two-track EP, taking its potential into a field of invention and aggressive malevolence which yes took a little time to persuade but given time created a battle field of imagination and intensity which invigorated and provoked the imagination. The album does not have an openly ground-breaking presence to its antagonistic sounds either but does offer a lingering incitement which has thoughts and emotions exploring it’s accomplished and inventively sculpted textures and uncompromising adventure with hunger.
The album’s concept of war brings an immediate aggression and barbarism to the release which is explored and stretched further by the battalion of combative tracks. From the scene setting intro, marching boots surrounded by a poignant and evocative melodic coaxing, the opener Through the Barricades steps from the increasingly intensifying brew of provocation to unleash a tirade of ravenous riffs and equally predatory rhythms whilst the vocals of guitarist Zyklon squall and rub with expressive causticity over the senses. It is a towering start exchanging full on energy and speed for intimidation and enterprise with the craft and skill of the band an open declaration as the track conjures up evocative imagery and striking sonic maliciousness. The bass of Hellwind is a vivid compelling force too alongside the impressive guitar sculpting of Zyklon and Widowreaper whilst the rhythms of Martin Hogebrandt are low on mercy and high on predation.
The following title track and its successor Pile of Corpses continue the impressive start, the first intercepting a relatively straight forward thrash seeded premise with infectious melodic spicery and unexpected twists of invention whilst the second of the two crafts a delicious niggle to its persuasion and riffing which erupts throughout to enslave the passions for the rest of the band’s venom and pleasing creativity to tease further. The extra shouts and group vocals on the track also add enjoyably to its rich suasion.
Though it has been a strong and appealing start the album leaps to greater levels with the combination of Remains of War and At the Eastern Shores. The first of the pair opens with an emotive melodic caress painting the aural landscape before riffs and rhythms provide a heady and intensive yet restrained weight to the emerging expanse of the song. Bringing a more heavy metal breath to parts of the track to align with the black and thrash metal persuasion, the song is a masterful temptation. Fusing Metallica like strikes into more unique and just as addictive sonic flames and melodic exploration, it is a contagious maelstrom of energy and thought again prowled by the darkly crafted bass sound and littered with sparks of unpredictable invention. Its successor is another kind of beast, its aggressive jaw primed to tear out the hearts of its victims as riffs acidically lash their carcass and rhythms splinter their bones. Spiralling grooves and gnawing riffs dominate the core of the track allowing the great vocal antagonism and debilitating rhythms to taunt and pounce with glee. It is another pinnacle and so potently anthemic and enjoyable that its three minutes plus feels like a mere whisper of time in passing.
Though a tall order to follow what is the combined highlight of the album from the previous two songs, the pestilential stalking of the senses by Grandiose Visions and the ravenous appetite of Death Brigade offer a valiantly destructive incitement, the impressive second especially gripping and enticingly dramatic with mouth-watering guitar play, whilst In the Warfield Storms is part war cry and part requiem, and fully magnetic to the passions.
Night of Revenge brings the release to a close, its presence as savage and blistering as anything on the album and just as thrilling, riffs and rhythms thrashing the ears into willing submission and melodic enterprise piled with dramatic imagination coating the wounds. It is an impressive end to a similarly impacting album, one which took time to make its appealing statement but emerges as another strong spark for the world of thrash this year.
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