Die Hard: Conjure the Legions

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Die Hard: Conjure the Legions
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Die Hard: Conjure the Legions
Death Metal, Thrash Metal
Agonia Records
November 6th, 2012
Release length: 38:09
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It’s been a little while since we had a new full-length from Die Hard, but definitely not too long since we last heard from them. After their 2009 debut, Nihilistic Vision, they have issued a total of three EPs, as well as a compilation in 2011 through Abyss Records. However, the band hasn’t left their home of Agonia Records, who also play host to their follow-up studio album, Conjure the Legions. But, does this effort live up to the promise their debut established, or is it a little worse for wear after so many miscellaneous efforts in the time that has passed?

Conjure the Legions carries that early Thrash Metal sound, but with a modern touch. There’s no denying the effort to capture the eighties era is done, but doesn’t work in the favor of the music all the time. Much of the music ends up sounding a bit restricted. The guitars have a deeper tone that sounds great, but doesn’t quite have a strong impact thanks to the distortion used, only really showing during the faster moments. The bass does its job well, largely acting as nothing more than support, but with a deeper presence the feeds into the mock-analog quality nicely. The bass kicks have a slight click to them that causes a richness throughout the release, and the snares range from mid-range to a higher, tighter snap. Much like the guitar, these also sound a little held back, as do the cymbals, which can be the worst of all. They appear to be a bit further in the background, and while still pretty crisp, the lower volume leaves some to come off like muffled clutter. Finally you have the vocals, which add a little more energy to the mix, and are at a decent level, though can still be drowned out by the dominant bass guitar and other instruments.

After a slow, ominous introduction of guitar distortions, some sounding like a gate crashing in the distance, the album is off with the title track, “Conjure the Legions.” The somewhat dramatic opening gives way to a catchy mid-tempo Thrash fueled offering with lower chords at work before picking things up a bit for a slighty more generic experience. The music takes on simpler riffs that aren’t as enthusiastic as the vocals are, and the cymbals do a good job trying to fill the gaps and hide the typical chugging of early Thrash Metal and Dismember style Death Metal. Sadly, this isn’t the strongest offering on the album, but when the pace picks up or heads into blastbeat terrain, it’s immediately a far better experience. This sets up what to expect from the album well, though only “Masters of Deceit” matches those expectations a lot more. The riffs here aren’t anything too spectacular, but there are plenty of passages that bring in some additional Black Metal influence that do add some extra edge to the music, especially the blastbeat driven areas. There are still plenty of opportunities to bang your head, more than “Conjure the Legions,” but the restrained feeling is still there, holding the music back from its full energetic potential that clearly exists under that eighties-esque quality.

Thankfully, there’s still some solid material that “Conjur the Legions” doesn’t sum up. “Satanic Uprise” is a faster assault through many sections, though still has a few sterile slower passages. However, even those are a bit more hard hitting thanks to the deeper bass, and less simpler material. The only thing really missing in this one are some falsetto wails in the background here and there when the pace picks up. Other than that, there’s a good assertive quality found throughout that commands your attention. “Cold Scythe” packs that similar intention to their music. The song itself has more of a mid-tempo approach, but the two-stepping bass kicks that periodically hit, as well as the deeper chugging chords that follow, do lend an air of moshpit worthy fun to the performance that any Metal fan can easily get behind. Then there’s the unoriginal sounding, but at least well executed and captured “Antichrist.” The faster material hammers away with some extra aggression, as well as a darker atmosphere when the leads take in a bit of melody. The slower areas are nothing impressive once again, but make for nice transitions that will have you banging your head along obediently each and every time.

There’s only nine tracks on this recording, clocking in at a little under forty minutes of Venom worship, which is just fine this time around. While it’s clear that Die Hard are putting a strong performance forward, it ends up sounding restrained, and largely unenthusiastic in many passages. The audio carries an eighties vibe to it, but also leaves the material a little too barren and sterile, especially with some of the simpler and generic sections, or whole offerings in general. Conjure the Legions is a nice throwback to the early Thrash Metal genre with some Black and Death Metal influences for show. But, in the end, this album simply doesn’t pack enough of a kick to grab the listener and pull him or her back after a while, leaving you with an album that mixes bland and tiring ideas with invigorated material that manages to kick you square in the ass for at least some of the time per entry.

01. Conjure the Legions – 5:00
02. Masters of Deceit – 3:43
03. Satanic Uprise – 3:42
04. Thrash Them All – 3:01
05. Cold Scythe – 5:07
06. Sanctify the Morbid – 4:23
07. Antichrist – 3:45
08. Stand Up – 4:14
09. Robe and Crown – 5:14
Overall Score: 6/10
Die Hard (band)
Die Hard
Digital review copy of this release provided by Agonia Records.