It has been a little over a decade since audiences have been treated to the politically charged post-punk and goth/rock of Seattle’s Legion Within, but this year’s Scourge not only broke that long silence but also proved that the band is as vehement and virulent as ever in addressing the turmoil that plagues modern society.
With the “Idiot Prime” single being the first taste of the new material, it had seemed that Legion Within had lost none of the potency of past outings like The Empty Men, with album tracks like “Scourge,” “Vacant Shell,” and “Done with It All” following the rebellious tone. The slow rhythms and slithering guitar lines of “Bleed,” along with subtle touches of bubbling keyboard effects make for an insidious track that burrows its way through the listener’s psyche, while the haunted and sparse atmospheres of “The Hand of God” and “Schadenfreude” evoke a gothic western vibe, the reverberant guitars hovering atop galloping drum and bass, with the latter song’s spooky keyboard effects and tremolo bar flourishes being a highlight of the record. There is the offbeat “Beautiful Creature,” whose unhinged and seemingly chaotic instrumentation creates an unsettling and eerie effect that is enhanced by the glassy synths in the chorus and a ghostly guitar solo. Some songs evoke an almost psychedelic vibe, like “All of Beauty” with its rather pleasant if saccharine vocal harmonies akin to what might’ve appeared in the protest rock of the post-Vietnam War era, while the bouncy organs in the verses of “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead” bear an almost go-go-esque quality that belies the punk rock & roll energy of the rest of the song.
Scourge may not be the most punishing listen, but it is certainly a timely record; with Legion Within’s foundations in the classic sounds of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s could not have returned at a better time as post-punk revivalism is at its height and political strife seemingly more incendiary than ever.