Not being the hippest or most happening of cats, I’ve never really paid much attention to Lamb of God and so had no idea who Burn the Priest were before a couple of days ago. So, for the benefit of those of you who are just as “cool” as I am, Burn the Priest were Lamb of God before they were called Lamb of God and I guess as Legion XX is all about paying tribute, recognizing and getting back to their roots by covering the bands that inspired and influenced them, Lamb of God decided to really get back to their roots and release the record under their original name. Which is, y’know, all kinds of cool in my book as they’re not trading off the Lamb of God name, they’re doing this because they want to acknowledge their history and the roles that the Hardcore, Punk, Crossover and Underground scenes played in their development as both a band and people.
And boy oh boy, do they do a pretty grand job of doffing their caps to some of the bands that shaped and moulded Burn the Priest, and later Lamb of God. Stylistically, Legion XX is a pretty eclectic mixture of artists that kicks off with an incendiary version of the Accused’s Inherit the Earth (taken from the aforementioned bands Martha Splatterheads Maddest Stories Evert Told, one of the greatest and most underrated crossover albums of all time)and then proceeds to thrash its way through a high energy set list that includes tunes by Ministry, Big Black, Melvins and Quicksand. Being of, I suspect, a similar age to the chaps in the band and coming from a similar musical background, the highlights of Legion XX for me are their raging takes on the Bad Brains I Against I, We Gotta Know by the Cro-Mags, the aformentioned Accused tune and Agnostic Front’s One Voice, an odd but incredibly welcome choice that completely bypasses the usual and, to be honest, expected songs that bands tend to cover from the Godathers of hardcore’s incredibly impressive arsenal.
My only gripe with Legion XX is the song that they chose to cover by S.O.D., Kill Yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an old school S.O.D. fan and Burn the Priest do an incredible job of infusing the song with an extra dose of velocity and energy, but it’s the subject matter of the song in question that I have a problem with. Maybe it’s an age thing, as having reached the stage in life where I’ve lost a number of close friends to suicide, thematically the song doesn’t sit well with me anymore and I kinda wish that maybe they’d covered Milano Mosh instead. That said, that first S.O.D. is a lyrical minefield filled with risqué subject matter, so it couldn’t have been easy to pull that rabbit out of the hat and both do justice, and pay tribute, to S.O.D., so I also understand where they’re coming from with their choice. Maybe it’s just a personal thing and me being overly sensitive, because apart from their chosen S.O.D. cover, Legion XX is, as the kids are so fond of saying, all killer and no filler. And it’s one heck of a way to say thank-you to bands who through their music pushed Burn the Priest to become everything that they did and everything that Lamb of God are. Don’t forget your roots and never forget where you came from… Tim Cundle