Founded in 2011, Legionarii is one of the more interesting martial projects to emerge from the post-industrial underground in recent years. The album featured here, Iron:Legion, was released by Rage in Eden in 2012 and serves as the project’s debut full-length, appearing only months after 2011’s two-track digital-only release, The New Era, on Castellum Stoufenburc. Legionarii has since put out a number of albums, including two of my personal favorites from the martial genre: Europa Rex and Disciples of the State. For fans who may have just caught wind of Legionarii at a more recent point in their career, Iron:Legion will prove to be quite a taste of the band’s early efforts. While this album has some faults, it still serves as a great example of what the genre has to offer.
Iron:Legion is a powerful album that captivates the mind with intense imagery of legions of soldiers marching towards battle. While some tracks bring forth the epic atmosphere of a proverbial “rallying of the troops”–such as the intro “The Rise of the Legion”–others evoke images of a grand campaign being fought on the field of battle, such as “Strategic Advance” and “Sieg”. The drums scream of militaristic art and the layered synth behind it does a fine job of doing the same whilst texturing the music towards a neoclassical tangent. While some songs exist as a soundtrack for soldiers and the glories and horrors of war, others bring a certain element of mystery and touch base with the realm of occultism, such as the track “Ahnenerbe”, which evokes the images of the Third Reich and its secretive occult research group of the same name.
One thing that I particularly appreciate with the martial subgenre is the proper use of samples, as with any form of industrial music, they can often make or break an album. While some artists seem to simply and haphazardly copy and paste soundbites into certain positions of their songs as to add something to the album, it often seems that they do this simply to add substance that is lacking from their own artistic integrity. For Legionarii, this is not the case as the artist’s use of samples greatly adds to each song–songs that already could have stood tall without them. For example, with the track “Ahnenerbe”, the artist provides clips of a narration about runic lore and the Ahnenerbe itself. Another fine example is the opening track “The Rise of the Legion”, which makes proper use of a song sung by the Germans in World War II, thus opening the album with the imagery of an “Iron Legion” preparing for war. While some artists seem to have trouble making use of soundbites, which often makes their work sound a bit sloppy, Legionarii does not and has made fine use of them. Another song that fans of the martial industrial genre might find enjoyable, as I have, is “The Tripartite”, featuring fellow militants Waffenruhe.
While Iron:Legion is notable, it is not without fault. My biggest complaint about the album is that, at times, it can seem rather monotonous, unnecessarily dragging on. While this is a certain downfall to the album, the repetitive nature does also serve as a positive, ultimately creating a hypnotic feeling that is as thematically relevant as it is enveloping. The only other complaint that I have been able to compile is the frustrating occurrence of some songs inexplicably ending without warning or decompression of tension. While this is occasionally necessary and unnoticeable, at times, it just detracts from the overall experience. While these two chinks in Legionarii’s aural armor were noted, Iron:Legion is still a solid offering.
Overall, I greatly enjoyed the album and find myself listening to it rather frequently. While Iron:Legion is a fine example of what Legionarii has to offer and can give one a strong insight into just how far the project has come since the early days in which these recordings took place, it is not necessarily the best example of what martial industrial, as a whole, is capable of.
01) The Rise of the Legion
02) Today we Fight
03) Iron Legion
06) Strategic Advance
07) Global Front
08) Ost und West
09) The Tripartite (Feat. Waffenruhe)
10) Guardians of Fate