Album Review: ‘Iron Scorn’ by Legion of Andromeda

Legion of Andromeda are a two-piece industrial/noise/black metal outfit from Tokyo, Japan, and Iron Scorn is their first full-length recording, produced by Steve Albini no less.

I picked up the cassette at a gig supporting Ommadon at the Unicorn, Camden, earlier in the year. This proved to be an extremely intense and uncomfortable performance – due to the band’s constant brash machine beats that rarely ceased, but also because of the large strobe light shining directly at the audience throughout (which prompted a warning on the event Facebook page). Experiencing something of a sense of relief following this audio/visual minimalist overload, my friend (Doctor Drone) and I rushed to buy the tape, and it turns out Legion of Andromeda had played at least 2/3 tracks from Iron Scorn.

The flashing strobe compliments the band perfectly: harsh, stark, angry. Legion of Andromeda don’t do subtlety, complexity or melody as such, just so we’re clear. The blurb for this album states: ‘No filler tracks, no fade-outs, no avant-garde intellectual scum.’ What we do get, then, is ‘7 slabs of inhuman heaviness fueled by total hate’, which start immediately with no warning and don’t relent until they abruptly stop. An example of such avant-garde intellectual scum I may be, but Legion of Andromeda produce the sound of a raging monster destroying a factory – and it’s utterly glorious.

As their name suggests, Iron Scorn contains several science fiction references and themes, which has always been an important part of The Weird. Industrial, in many ways, represents the purely rational, logic side of SF as famously and debatably understood by Darko Suvin as ‘cognitive estrangement’. The programmed drums – unrelenting kick-drums broken only by sparse, anvil-hammering snare – are totally stripped of emotion or warmth, with the cold logic of a machine. The vocals (or ‘vokills’ as they’re listed on the tape) provide the estrangement. Tending towards death growls, they essentially function as another rhythm instrument, yet suggesting a human element, even if it is hidden beneath animalistic growls and pained gurgling. Musical comparisons include Godflesh’s classic Streetcleaner (obviously), slower parts from Mortician tracks, and anything on the raw, punkier side of black metal.

The highlight of the album is ‘Overlord of Thunder’, built around a simple, slithering guitar riff – more doom than the tight death metal riffs found elsewhere.While the rest tends towards coldness and nihilism, here a further human element comes in: the track grooves, suggesting a little feeling slipping through this Weird juggernaut. Not so in the lyrics, which depict the birth of the titular figure in ‘Breath of cosmic gamma ray/ Massive muscle flexed by hate.’ Mounting its attack in ‘Blizzard cyclone hurricane/ Endless spiral Stygian snake’, the Overlord of Thunder eventually triggers ‘Crumbling pillars of the universe’.

Elsewhere, the lyrics resemble an abstract, surreal melange formed from imagery relating to occultism and satanism (‘Excrement of goat/ All praise the Lord’), science fiction (‘Guardian of the gates of time’), fantasy (‘Catharsis black god’) , and general war and destruction (‘Flame of predation/ Incinerate within extinction’). Others are just plain bizarre, tending towards the phallic. Gems such as ‘Lurking through the testicles superior grinding drill’, for example, or ‘The fever of a triple penis penetrates the mind’ (no, really) even rival Dave Wyndorf’s famously weird lyrics for Monster Magnet.

If you’re looking for a truly disturbing and intense slice of Weird sonic science fiction that penetrates the mind (indeed much like a triple penis), then check out Iron Scorn on Legion of Andromeda’s Bandcamp page.

The ‘Iron Scorn’ cassette was released on 20 February 2015 by At War With False Noise.

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