Europa Rex is the sophomore album from the shadowy martial industrial project Legionarii, succeeding their proper debut Iron Legion and preceding their third and, to date, final album, Disciples of the State. It was released in 2012 by the Polish Rage in Eden imprint, which was formerly known as War Office Propaganda.
Legionarii looks to be an elusive band. The project was formed in 2011 with their earliest offering being the two-track digital EP The New Era in September of that year. Their last album, Disciples of the State, was released in June of 2013, giving Legionarii barely two years of activity of albums and appearances on split releases. Neither their website nor their Facebook page has had any form of update since the tail end of 2013 and neither locations are forthright with information about the project proper (in fact, the Facebook profile only has two posts to speak of).
This has all the hallmarks of a band that arrived, released as much material as possible, and quietly exited the scene. The proverb is that the flame that burns twice as bright burns twice as quickly. If the music on Europa Rex is any indication, then Legionarii definitely burned fast, but it certainly wasn’t bright.
Per the band’s website, Europa Rex is a concept album that is “trying to invoke the feelings of dark and cold Europe torn by wars for one ultimate rule of the mothercontinent” while trying to “provide the feelings of glory in the times of despair.” The liner notes for the album describe the thematic aim to “revive Europe and bring back its glory” by “restoring the old values that once brought Europe to its splendorous gleam.” Legionarii sets to task restoring this “splendorous glory” by creating an album that’s entirely composed of forty-three minutes of Third Reich speech samples and crowd cheers that are glued together by mediocre martial music.
Martial industrial and Third Reich audio sampling is a formula that has been done to death for decades. While adhering to the blueprint should yield at least average results of consumable martial music, Legionarii simply fails to accomplish even this standard. Europa Rex lacks the orchestral vibrancy that is present in Von Thronstahl’s Imperium Internum and lacks the pulsing bombastic percussion of In Slaughter Natives’ Resurrection. The closest sound it seeks to emulate is that of Wappenbund, but it disappoints by not achieving the same level of industrial-rhythm. The music on Europa Rex seems like patchwork and is certainly not cohesive. There’s no underlying rhythm nor musical bridges or transitions, and it is repetitive without concern for being memorable. Some tracks lack direction, illuminating moments when the artist seems to have not quite known how to fade out or taper off an ending passage, instead opting to abruptly end it.
Creating an album where all of the content is achieved via Third Reich samples was already masterfully done by Dernière Volonté on Obeir Et Mourir. While that album does an excellent job at pairing ambient-martial music to many different World War II samples (not just from Germany), Europa Rex lacks this meaningful usage. The music only fits the samples insofar as they are of a martial nature; it doesn’t go the extra step to actually compliment the samples. Another way to put it is that it’s absolutely generic, synthetic drumming with German speeches. No more, no less. There’s no bombastic moments to make your hair stand on end, and no memorable instances in the album to merit anything more than background music.
The packaging of the album is about as vanilla as the music: Roman statues in front of Roman buildings. It’s a visual cue that’s been on various military pop and neofolk albums for decades, and for this instance, it’s another face in the crowd.
Europa Rex is not an average album. It’s below average. It has committed one of the worst crimes for martial music: it’s boring and unmemorable. Martial music should accomplish something, from being challenging or controversial, to harnessing that attractive element of authority that the scene responds well too. Legionarii doesn’t do any of these. It’s a shame, that after years of prior influential and iconic bands laying the groundwork, that an album as bare-bones as this was even realized. With Europa Rex, Legionarii looked to its mentors and its predecessors and proceeded to disregard all of the knowledge that was imparted upon it.
01) The New Era
02) Power in Our Hands
03) Europa Rex
04) Stahlpakt / Black Sun March
05) Iron Will
06) Total Propaganda
07) Blood Drawn