Released: 2014, AFM Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
São Paulo's Korzus have been around for going on 30 years, but haven't made near the international impact of their Brazilian brethren Sepultura or even, for that matter, Ratos de Porão. But they've made some significant inroads in that regard over the last few years, since signing with Germany's AFM Records for 2010's Discipline of Hate.
Their second record for the label, and sixth studio outing overall, could certainly help boost their profile even more. It's the kind of bruising, freewheeling thrash that Sepultura championed 20-some years ago, but have long since abandoned. That's not to dismiss Legion as a mere throwback album, aimed at their comrades' former glory, it just has that old school fire and ferocity. Indeed, if anything, Korzus come more from the Slayer school of thrash - indeed, the drum march that kicks off the opening track “Lifeline” eerily echoes “Hell Awaits.”
Legion certainly has the crisp modern sonic quality and punchy production that tells you this no retro-thrash album right off the bat. The overall sound here is huge and crystal clear, and really accentuates the bob-and-weave riffs and leads of guitarist Antônio Araújo and Heros Trench and frontman Marcello Pompeu's shouted vocals - which recall Destruction's Schmier and Forbidden's Russ Anderson in their tone and cadence.
To go with the great sound, Korzus have crafted a baker's dozen of rock-solid, and sometimes superb, thrash anthems that bristle with energy and raw power and make it seem like these guys are just finding their stride after three decades. Drummer Rodrigo Oliveira keeps things moving at a dead sprint much of the time, or at least a bracing chug as on the title track, “Broken” or “Self Hate.” And the band largely resist the temptation to insert the obligatory groove or moshable parts, opting to just keep kicking ass instead.
That said, there is no shortage of crunch or melody here – it's just not so calculating or contrived. “Die Alone” is awash in hooks that are kept moving by Oliveira's double-bass rolls. “Bleeding Pride” offers much the same, with its catchy chorus countered by sporadic blast beat. On the flipside, the riffs of “Lamb” and “Purgatory” are delivered with hardcore tenacity and are catchy almost in spite of themselves.
If nothing else, Legion will restore your faith in “Brazilian thrash metal.” But that's also selling it short. Legion is a terrific thrash metal album, period.