The last few years have been kind to USPM-revivalist bands. With the popularity of groups like Visigoth and Eternal Champion, this barbaric style of heavy metal is making a comeback amongst younger fans and it’s easy to see why, given its more aggressive stylings. Legionnaire is the next in a long line of “hype” USPM-worship bands, despite the group's Finnish descent. “Dawn of Genesis” marks their debut record, and is a surefire winner for fans of Omen, Manilla Road and others.
The first of these aforementioned bands sums up Legionnaire’s musical approach well. Much like Omen, they take early Iron Maiden (think first two albums), and turn up the speed a few notches. Legionnaire’s riffs are occasionally so quick that they border on speed metal. Surprisingly, the band has their technical moments, such as some of the riffing on “Shadow Upon the Metropolis”, but they never let this get in the way of writing rock-solid, headbanging riffs. More predictably, the band is a huge fan of harmonized guitars, and uses just about every excuse to saturate each track with plenty of dueling leads. Another common characteristic of both Iron Maiden and Omen are the galloping rhythms that dominate both bands’ catalogues, and Legionnaire follows similar suits. Tracks like “Enigma of Time” and “The Guardian” display galloping of the highest order.
Everything is sounding good so far, but Legionnaire doesn’t make things quite so easy on the listener. The point of contention on “Dawn of Genesis” for most listeners will be the vocals. The band’s singer adopts an epic approach, aiming to make each lyric more monumental than the last. The difficulty, however, is that he doesn’t always pull it off. Some lines work incredibly well in this style, but at other times, it feels like he misses the notes he’s trying to hit. Despite numerous listens of this release, it’s unclear to me whether the band’s vocalist is a terrible singer, or some sort of secret genius. Of course, if you like USPM and other obscure heavy metal scenes, this likely won’t be a problem. Manilla Road proved to everyone that you don’t need Bruce Dickinson fronting your band to be successful. Sure, Legionnaire would probably be a lot better with an air raid siren-style singer, but their current vocalist certainly fits the grand nature of the band’s music.
On the whole, “Dawn of Genesis” almost seems as if it’s a lost relic from the 1980s. Its flaws are almost solely limited to the vocals, and they are really just another authentic homage to the band’s influences. The songwriting is fairly strong throughout, and there aren’t enough positive words to describe the guitar playing on this record. Though it might not be as potent for me as some other comparables like Visigoth, it is easy to see how this record could top many year-end lists. Overall, Legionnaire’s debut record is a worthy contender for the modern USPM (but not from the US) throne!
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"Shadow Upon The Metropolis"
"Dawn of Genesis"
4.0/5 or 80%.
Written by Scott