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Rex Satanachia - "First Legion of Hell" (CD/EP)

Rex Satanachia - "First Legion of Hell" CD/EP cover image

"First Legion of Hell" track listing:

1. The Breath Of Satanachia (2:37)
2. Channeling The Paragon Of Supernatural Evil (3:03)
3. Path Of The Magus (3:46)
4. Luciferian Bloodrites (3:35)
5. As The First Legion Descends (2:35)
6. The Revelations Of Sathanas Rex (4:16)

Reviewed by on May 21, 2009

"The EP primarily exudes a sound very similar to middle-era Emperor, but also throws in some death metal undertones and a few unique sounds that don’t usually pop up in an old school black metal release."

Let the Satanic black metal masses rejoice, for the new talent of Rex Satanachia has joined the ranks and produced a ritual of vile wickedness aptly titled “First Legion of Hell.” The band also had the good grace to not hail from Norway, but still managed to created a bitterly icy composition nearly as good as those heard from the originators of the genre. The EP primarily exudes a sound very similar to middle-era Emperor, but also throws in some death metal undertones and a few unique sounds that don’t usually pop up in old school black metal releases.

“First Legion” opens and closes with the same instrumental segment that uses the sound of clinking chains in the background while a howling synth effect drags on. As the ghostly sounds die down, a depressing guitar riff starts up and drones on for a moment until the rasping black metal style vocals make their appearance. The purpose behind the album and the type of lyrics that can be expected are summed up nicely by the first line, which is the intonation of “Oh Master, grant me power, for I am truly Yours.” The band seems to take the Satanic elements of their music seriously, but the ritualistic nature of the music is called into question somewhat by the odd collection of religious symbols on the album’s cover artwork. Rather than sticking to one specific brand of occult theme, there are several conflicting mythologies present, some of which aren’t even considered “real.” The Elder Sign of the Cthulhu mythos rests above an upside down cross, which resides next to the Tree of Life of the Kabbalah.

Questions of religious sincerity aside, the music on “First Legion” should please fans of black metal whether they care about the lyrics or not. The familiar rapid-fire drum blast beats are present, and they are delivered with enough power to blow out speakers and make the room shake. Each song goes through several different changes in the structure of the music so that, even though the base of old school black metal is always present, no one song ever sounds the exact same as any other or overstays it welcome. Much like what was heard from the middle and later albums of bands like Emperor, there are high pitched male clean vocals delivered in a baroque style. They certainly won’t make believers out of anyone who didn’t already love the style, but fans of the frozen black metal scene will probably nod knowingly and just accept that sometimes the genre goes over the top on purpose.

In a similar grandiloquent fashion, there are occasional tortured screams and wailing cries that drag on a bit too long, bringing to mind the corpse paint and spiked armor crowd. Another possible point of contention occurs on the fourth track “Luciferian Bloodrites,” which features a mad cackling that turns into something like an insane clown giggling. While it’s conveyed with less of a cheesy feel than would be expected, it may still come off as silly rather than frightening, depending on the disposition of any given listener. The sporadically irritating vocals are pretty well counterbalanced by the addition of lower death growls, however, and a layering effect used every now and again to make the single vocalist seem like an entire horde of demons from the abyss.

Rex Satanachia probably isn’t going to dethrone Emperor or Mayhem from their seats at the top of the sound, but they play the earlier style of black metal exceedingly well with a pleasing production and a few extra twists of their own. It’s too bad that they didn’t extend “First Legion of Hell” out to a full-length, as at six tracks with twenty minutes of music, the EP is almost as long as some normal black metal albums.

Highs: Good use of blast beats, lots of vocal variation, exudes an Emperor style sound

Lows: Some silly sound effects and vocals that are to be expected from the genre

Bottom line: A debut black metal EP that is definitely worth a listen from fans of Emperor or similar acts.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)