Reviewed: March 2020
Released: 2020 Listenable Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
A supergroups go, Berzerker Legion have pretty impeccable death metal bona fides. Featuring members from Hypocrisy and Asphyx – guitarists Tomas Elofsson and Alwin Zuur, respectively – as well as Wombbath, Dark Funeral and Vader/Bloodshot Dawn – vocalist Jonny Pettersson, bassist Fredrik Isaksson and drummer James Stewart – this European Union of Swedes, Dutch and British musicians cut a fairly wide swath of styles within the genre, from the most melodic to the most severe.
Yet their focus is fairly narrow on this their debut full-length, with none of the members’ main bands – Asphyx excepting – figuring that prominently in the overall sound. Instead, Berzerker Legion, whose names sounds like it could be an Amon Amarth song, borrow quite liberally that band’s melodic death metal bag of tricks.
Indeed, Obliterate The Weak offers the sort of gritty, marauding horde attack that was an Amon Amarth staple until they opted for a slicker approach when producer Jens Brogen entered the picture on 2006’s With Oden On Our Side. But fans who pine for the more rough and tumble The Avenger through Fate Of Norms era of Amon Amarth – mixed with the methodical intensity of Bolt Thrower – should eat this stuff up.
And while it is far from an original sound, it is seriously fucking heavy and played with punishing intent, which helps Berzerker Legion seem a bit less like a tribute band than they otherwise might have. The elephant march title track and the more galloping “The Falling Dawn” sound absolutely immense here thanks to their cascading riffs, heaving rhythms and grooves, Pettersson’s burly growl and a production job that pushes it straight into your face and right down your throat.
The entire album is a massive wall of sound, with occasional harmonized leads and some slower, doomier moments – as on “A Lurking Evil” – providing what atmosphere there is here. Otherwise, it’s like an avalanche of metal, obliterating all its wake – weak or no – which really isn’t the worst thing in the world.
It’s just too bad the band didn’t take more care to compose some more distinctive material, which may be a factor of the members having a variety of other gigs – in Pettersson’s case more than a dozen. They seem to have taken the path of least resistance here by adopting a familiar sound, instead of adapting one of their own. And no amount of heaviosity can disguise that – although these guys certain put that to the test.