Just do it. Grow a God damned backbone and do it. Kill the bitch. Spill her blood. Make her pay. The devil perched precariously on your shoulder just won’t stop urging—chanting, almost—these dreadful things into your ear; your grip on the axe haft tightens. You don’t have to, croons the soft-spoken angel seated opposite the devil. You don’t even know her. Make her pay? For what crime? What sin? While the angel raises a valid point, he is far too delicately spoken to outweigh the miniature Satan’s sinister logic. For living, for breathing—for taking your air and your space. Kill the bitch. That’s all it takes. Heart racing, vision red and blurred, you raise the weathered axe high above your head and swing: the gurgling, wretched fading of scream and the lapping of her life-force onto the tile floor creates a marvelous, evil symphony. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Woke.
Ohio-based deathcore quintet Legion provide one of the most in-depth and evil listening experiences this side of The Acacia Strain. Woke is crafted in a magnificent two-part method which morphs into a unique, pulverizing dynamic. First and foremost, Woke is heavy, fast and—for lack of a better word—pissed. Pissed enough to instill the hatred required to convince the listener to start a killing spree, and, like many notable killing sprees, it begins out of fear. “The Fear” provides a sinister, subtle introduction that furiously transgresses into one of the most bitter and intrusive tracks on the album: “And Then, The Devil Said.” Perhaps the first time you killed it wasn’t out of malice, but out of defense—not scorn, but self-preservation. However, by the time “And Then, The Devil Said” is done launching a catchy, pulverizing attack on the listener, they’re a well-seasoned, heartless murderer. Tracks like this and “He Became Death” use fast-paced drumming and catchy, repugnant riffing to force the listener’s ear wide open, while the groovy bass guitar hammers the lyrics deep into their head. While the musicianship is instrumental in conveying the lyrics and allowing them to hit home, it is fundamentally the words themselves that convince the listener to commence their manifest of mass murder.
The devastating heaviness of the breakdowns in “Disclosure of Sin” and “The Roach” (among many, many others) perfectly fits the pulse-pounding, blood-pumping thrill of robbing another person of life. However, the second part of Legion’s well-crafted dialectic is just as crucial: atmosphere. Anyone can kill. It takes a real expert—real commitment—to make killing a profession or to make a career out of it. True, Woke’s heaviness and deep, filthy chugs provide the rush, it is the atmosphere which provides the expertise. From the get go, with “The Fear,” Legion surround the listener in a shell of tedious misanthropy, akin to marching into a haunted house which turns out to be the real deal. Furthermore, “Priest” makes stunning use of pounding, ground-leveling percussion and high-fretted atmospheric guitar to give a perfectly haunting feel. “B.R.F.” and “The Roach” have similar portions—where the song seems to lose continuity and begin to drift and feel somewhere between a dream and a nightmare. While this could have very easily gone wrong for Legion, it turns out to be so perfectly written and executed that the listener cannot help but find themselves lost in it.
The only reason you keep killing—moving from city to city, adopting name after name and sleeping under countless park benches—is because you still haven’t lost that rush. What’s the saying? “Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life?” You took that to heart. Subsequently, so did Legion. Whether it’s the way the ambience and back-splitting, skin-rending brutality feed off of eachother in “B.R.F.” or the brute-force anger dripping from “And Then, The Devil Said,” Woke is a monument to every bad memory and every evil thought the listener has ever had. It forges deep and diabolical connections between the band and the listener such that the album slithers into the listener’s brain like a snake and, rather than poisoning and killing, lays eggs. These eggs then hatch and give way to soul-devouring seeds of hatred which seem to possess the listener’s head and direct their thoughts. The truth is this: while Woke is crushingly heavy and dissonantly atmospheric, it is, above all catchy, and demands to not just be heard, but obeyed.
What now? She’s dead—there goes another one—and you’re all out of ideas. Before you even turn to consult the devil on your shoulder, he mutters: you know you aren’t done. Not by a long shot. You turn to consult the angel, to hope—maybe you can still be saved, maybe you’re not beyond repair—only to find him strangled, Satan’s bloody handprints stamped across his neck. This is Legion’s Woke. Relentless, endless, devastating levels of bitterness and hate which will rend the listener limb from limb.
For Fans Of: The Acacia Strain, Oceano, Towers, Black Tongue, Thy Devourer
By: Connor Welsh