With already a rather potent reputation for their voracious live presence, UK outfit Of Legion offer the fullest introduction to their hardcore ferocity with debut album Face Value. Enticingly irritable, enjoyably raw, and emotively abrasive, the nine track trespass is a potential rich suggestion of a band carrying all the qualities to make a lingering mark on the British hardcore/punk scene.
Emerging in 2015, Stoke hailing Of Legions have evolved a sound which could be said to have found its true roar around the release the following year of second EP,. They have continued to hone it with essences of metal, rock, and punk blossoming within and as evidenced by their first album, though it still feels like it has a way to go to fulfil its potential, it is a sound that has grown into one ear grabbing, imagination stirring proposal. Alongside, the quartet has further earned increasing plaudits with a live presence which has seen them share stages with the likes of Gideon, Desolated, Silent Screams, Liferuiner, Martyr Defiled, TRC, Machete 187, Continents, and Brokencyde. Now it is Face Value looking to push the band’s growing presence and fair to say it makes for one hefty invitation to ears and awareness.
The album’s title track opens things up, Face Value looming in from a distance with heavy coaxing riffs and crisp rhythms; already that multi-flavoured mix of sound grabbing ears. Once in full view, the initial vocal blast from Luke Mansfield triggers a rapacious surge of sound and emotion but one which prowls rather than violates to great effect. Swiftly it is all over the song brief but a great start setting up a real appetite for the rest of the album which the following Let Loose soon feeds. It instantly walls ears in a tempest of intensity and noise, the scything swings of drummer Nath McCue full of ill-intent next to the thick grumble of Ollie Lewis’ bass. With Mansfield venting with emotive passion, the guitar of Sam Morrey casts an enterprising web of intrigue and animus which just grips attention, the four way combination uniting in another two minutes plus of creative animosity and pleasure.
La Familia is another which prowls the listener, its threat and energy in check but fully felt as riffs and rhythms badger rather than strike the senses. With hungry hooks and rhythmic imagination at its centre, the song easily keeps predictability away before Worthless springs a bedlam of acidic grooves, vocal discontent, and rhythmic voracity. It similarly twists and turns with adventure and tenacity, blending familiar essences with real imagination carrying Of Legions individuality.
Grouchy bordering on choleric, Scum crowds and bullies ears next, Mansfield leading its corrosive holler with his throat scraping outpourings. Yet at its core is the most irresistible of grooves which inspires a similarly infectious lining across all traits as it leaves the senses withered, even more so with its final bearish incitement.
Even in their individuality, all songs to this point have their seeds in recognisable hardcore beddings but with Suicidal Thoughts the band really push themselves as progressive lined melodies and atmospheric intimation envelop ears as vocals share emotional scars. It is a compelling start which develops into a melodic rock/punk stroll, Morrey colouring it with some great fiery yet suggestive melodies. Leaving food for thought and a whole new current of potential flowing from the band it is another inescapably enjoyable moment within Face Value.
With the adversarial and constantly shifting dynamics of No Loyalty and the bullish rock ‘n’ roll of Hard Time, the album only confirms its potency if neither track quite stirs personal tastes as forcibly as other songs. Nevertheless, each only builds on the blending of styles the band embraces before Wormfeeder brings things to a close with its snarly intrusive quarrel. With death metal essences in its barbarous and suffocating tempest, the track is sonic pestilence and so easy to willingly succumb to.
Face Value is a great next step in the Of Legions’ growth, yes there are elements which might not grab as much as others but its promise is undeniable as too the enjoyment it delivers.
Face Value is out now.
Pete RingMaster 20/02/2018
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