When it comes to slavering, skull-crushing heaviness and flesh-destroying death metal barbarism, nothing I’ve heard this year has fucked me up as much as the debut album from Legion Of Andromeda. Diabolical in its minimalist approach, the new album from Tokyo-based duo Legion Of Andromeda wormed its way deep into my brain upon first hearing it (thanks to a recommendation from fellow Maryland label Unholy Anarchy), unleashing a grinding nightmare of violent, industrial doomdeath rooted in a barbaric simplicity, moving in endlessly cyclical percussive patterns. It makes perfect sense that the band enlisted none other than Steve Albini to record this album, as the monolithic percussive pummel of Big Black is an admitted influence on Legion’s sound. Iron Scorn was first released on vinyl by the aforementioned Unholy Anarchy, with At War With False Noise handling the European release, and is now being followed up with a CD release by Crucial Blast to further the blast radius of this immense debut.
Iron Scorn has a strange effect upon certain listeners, myself included. As opener “Transuranic Ejaculation” bellows across the first moments of Scorn, the band’s combination of primitive bone-crushing riffage and minimal, mechanical tempo seems overly simplistic, even monotonous. Each song centers around little more than a pair of interchanging riffs that circle endlessly over an unfluctuating mid-paced drumbeat that rarely deviates from a simple combination of metronomic crash cymbal and rumbling double bass. Keep listening, though, and Legion Of Andromeda’s seemingly atavistic heaviness begins to reveal a perversely hypnotic quality, the brutal repetition and savage cyclical flow of these seven tracks turning into surprisngly infectious blasts of ravenous, concussive doomdeath. The riffs shift between droning heavioisty and abrasive dissonance, without ever diminishing the sheer skull-flattening density; sure, the pummeling violence of tracks like “Transuranic Ejaculation” and “Fist Of Hammurabi” is undeniably monotonous, but that monotony is both deliberate and crucial to the band’s sadistic, sickening assault, each song scultped into an interlocking flesh-rendning horror oif gnashing steel teeth and machine-driven hypnosis and rabid violence, an endless mecha-death trance that burrows like some slavering cyborg worm through your rippling flesh. And it’s topped off with repulsively bestial vocals that frequently devolve into psychotic gibberish or rabid snarling vocalizations, as if you’re hearing the singer devolve, Altered States-style, right before your eyes. Those fucked-up vocals bring an added unhinged vibe to this rigid, skull-flattened dronedeath assault. Legion Of Andromeda have hacked out a uniquely vicious sound, and shares as much disgusting DNA with the clanking ugliness of early Swans and the grinding industrial metal of bands like Dead World, Skin Chamber and Streetcleaner-era Godflesh as it does with the putrescent doom/death of Autopsy, Cianide and Asphyx, brilliantly fusing the devastating down-tuned chug of the latter to the repetitive, belt-driven clangor of the former. Each monstrous track churns through the black cosmos like a mechanical warbeast comprised of gnashing teeth and interlocking gears, terrifying and trance-inducing, with equal nods to the most depraved strains of industrial metal and the most primitive depths of black/death violence.