Siege Column – Darkside Legions Review

From MTV’s Jersey Shore to the actual Jersey Shore, New Jersey has vomited all sorts of nasty filth upon this planet. Sitting among this garbage heap is death metal duo Siege Column, a project of Jersey underground veteran Joe Aversario1 and his partner in crime, “Shawnslaught Skullkrusher.” The group’s 2018 debut Inferno Deathpassion was essentially a raw and primitive death metal shitstorm, replete with cacophonous drumming and gurgled roaring that contained more than a slight nod to the bestial black metal of Blasphemy. Which means, of course, I dug the fuck out of it. Not enough to put it on my year-end list, mind you, but enough to say that I was definitely looking forward to Darkside Legions, the group’s second album and first to feature cover art that seems to have been pulled from the spiral notebook of that dark yet artistic dude who was always doodling in the back of your high school geometry class.

Crude artwork aside, Legions actually shows the band refining their attack a bit, if we’re using “refined” in the loosest sense of the word. Deathpassion was all about being raw, brief, and bludgeoning, in a way that (looking back now) reminds me a lot of Violent Hammer. In contrast, Legions features a more pronounced sense of groove and generally more developed songs. Nowhere is this more apparent than opener “Devil’s Knights of Hell.” Beginning with ominous synths that sound like the music of a Coney Island haunted house ride, the track soon breaks into big meaty grooves that stomp for a full four minutes before the vocals even appear. Once those death roars are unleashed, the band explode into a hammering assault of blast beats, tremolos, pounding Blasphemophagher riffs, and even a brief D-beat section. There’s a lot crammed in but never do the band lose focus, nor does their attack feel any less ferocious than before.

As Legions continues, this ferocity is only maintained. “Echoes from the Underworld” and the title track tear forward on ragged chords that again remind me of Violent Hammer, an effect augmented by the guttural and monstrous death roars. “Snakeskin Mask” likewise lurches forward with demented zeal, with its wailing leads and snarling riffs recalling the death-crust of Bones. The remainder of the album is a whirlwind of stomping grooves, slicing tremolos, and blackened death eruptions, though Column do work to give each song a bit of its own identity. “In the Stolen Tomb” stands out with its winding melodic tremolos, while the title track features a brief yet great pounding buildup. Closer “Buried in Lava” also ends things with a bang, evoking Bolt Thrower’s The IVth Crusade with its more melodic ideas.

There’s a lot to love here and overall I’d say Legions is a bit more accessible than its predecessor. The production seems to have been cleaned up ever so slightly, with a guitar tone that remains discernible while sounding like a controlled explosion. The rickety drums add to the raw feel, while the snappy snare sound gives the whole thing a sense of pummeling propulsion. The roared vocals are loud, monstrous, and pretty much entirely indecipherable, which I personally love though they may not be to everyone’s taste. The only thing I really don’t like about Legions is that some of the groovier riffs start to feel redundant, even as soon as “Funeral Fiend” shows up around halfway through the album. Column are smart enough to work enough subtle mixups into these songs so that it’s not a huge issue, though a few more fresh ideas could have improved things.

Still, I can’t help but love both Darkside Legions and Siege Column in general. What impresses me most is how familiar yet unique the band’s style is. In a way, the group sound like if an 80s punk band decided to make a death metal album, with their only experience in the genre being a Terrorizer demo they heard three years earlier. As such Legions is at once fresh, unpolished, and destructive, a true force of nature and one that’s sure to win the hearts of those who dabble in the more primal realms of black and death metal.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear War Now! Productions
Releases Worldwide: August 15th, 2020

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  1. Whose experience includes Abazagorath, Altar of Gore, Death Fortress, and a slew of other bands I’ve never heard of.
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