Buckle up, kids, because the Swedes are here, and they’ve brought with them some of their finest black metal in the form of a brand new Witchery album. Less than a year after the release of In His Majesty’s Infernal Service, which you can read our review of here, the black metal outfit have returned, seemingly having moved immediately from recording studio to touring and back again, with their new album, I Am Legion. This could be the case that the still freshly revamped lineup are keen to impress, and if that is the case, then they have certainly succeeded in their mission. As with the previous release, the essence of Witchery remains firmly in tact throughout I Am Legion, yet the evolution and progression of the band is clear too, proving to the listener that the quintet are more than capable of breathing life in to anything they touch.
Usually, I might discuss the introductory track at this point in a review and what it reveals about the rest of the album, but that simply cannot be done with I Am Legion, as the first three tracks blend together, creating a titanic monolith of black metal savagery. “Legion”, “True North”, and “Welcome, Night” tie themselves together, with there being no noticeable moment when one track becomes another. What this means is that Witchery have produced three tracks which, by all means, are great examples of heavy metal in their own right, but when collected together, create something inexplicably triumphant. A furious trilogy of no-nonsense metal which cuts through all the bullshit, and demands the listener to bang their head.
The immediate liveliness found in I Am Legion comes with the rolling guitars on “Legion”, and is something quite unexpected; certainly a stark contrast to the doom and gloom misery which is so often associated with black metal. A real feeling of movement is created within the music, and it is one which transfers itself to the listener, as once you are surrounded by the dark tentacles of Witchery, you too will find yourself uncontrollably enchanted by the beat of the music.
What I Am Legion provides is a dark and truly evil sounding album, one which captures all of the villainy and Satanism of a traditional black metal album, yet showcases it in a fast-paced, high-octane style; a quick burst of hatred. Tracks such as “Amun-Ra” and “An Unexpected Guest” demonstrate this excellently, with each track being laden with minor-key deconstructed chord riffs, furious hi-hat bashing, and garbled vocals that make singer Angus Norder sound as if he is foaming at the mouth. However, throughout all of this, the tracks are presented as being entirely undistorted and borderline clean, a real change from the norm of black metal. This step away from a genre so highly strung with what constitutes as being ‘real’ metal and what doesn’t is refreshing, and could possibly breath new life in to a subculture which has been stagnant for quite some time now.
I Am Legion is not your average black metal massacre of savage Satanism and Christ-bashing (though it does contain some of the latter); it is an intense burst of raw energy which has been fine tuned to deliver something truly spectacular. Do not go in to this album expecting a run of the mill black metal experience, as you will not receive that. Instead, you will be greeted with a barbaric, and very catchy, assault on your eardrums, one which grabs you, throws you against the wall, and does not let up until you have heard everything it has to say.