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Legions of Crows: Stab Me

I've always felt that some bands work so hard on their image that their overall sound gets lost in the excitement over the makeup or the costumes. In the case of Legions of Crows, the music gets especially lost in the constant edginess of their attitude. This is a band that is so committed to establishing their credentials as hard-edged, counter-cultural, all-purpose shockers of convention that their music feels like it exists only for those purposes. These guys are especially pointed in their general critique of religion, but they don't really add anything to the conversation other than that they are skeptical and annoyed. Listening to this album is like having a conversation with someone who disagrees with you for its own sake, but they never actually contribute anything useful or meaningful. Heavy metal has always been about challenging expectations, social norms, and taste, but Stab Me plays its cards out of turn. I remember when Slayer's music used to shock people, but at least it sounded like the band was having fun putting the music together. I guess that's what Stab Me misses in the end--a sense of playfulness.

The production on this album also seemed generally poor. I'm no expert on recording and mixing, but any listener will quickly notice that the vocals are sometimes buried into the tracks, making them not only hard to hear, but also hard to understand. I suppose this wouldn't be a bad thing if they were meant to convey more of a texture to the songs, like the growling one hears on post-metal recordings by Isis and others. But Legions of Crows doesn't take advantage of what vocals can actually do. Lots of bands use some variation on the death growl, but I think it's fair to say that they bring a certain level of musicianship to their work. To be fair, there are other tracks where the vocals are more predominant, but they are mixed with effects that give them so much of a high end that they repel, rather than attract, listeners. On the band's myspace page, they describe their music as being a mixture of "Crushing Doom, Black Metal and Hateful Ambience." I think they got it right. Stab Me creates ambient sounds, only with gristle.

One cool surprise on Stab Me is the credited appearance of Paul Di'Anno (he of the first two Iron Maiden albums) on the track "Coventry Carol."He isn't given a whole lot to do, basically sing the familiar eponymous Christmas melody. As expected Di'Anno's voice rises above the music thickly and effectively, but even then Legions of Crows works hard to counterbalance it with just dissonant enough harmonies to remind listeners of their subversive intentions. I hope other listeners won't charge me with failing to understand what Legions of Crows is up to. I think I do understand, but I just didn't enjoy it for its own sake.

Track Listing
1. Provident Hymn/Malediction
2. Fellating the Lamb
3. Defecate
4. Carrion Pond Drove
5. Legions of Crows
6. Bullshit Acres
7. Dull Grey
8. Coventry Carol

Added: December 28th 2011
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band MySpace Page
Hits: 2014
Language: english

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