We are slowly approaching the late 80s. a decade that can only be described as an explosive one, is about to finish. The newborn genre of US Power Metal is about to complete its first life cycle, ready to enter the new 90s decade.
The genre is widely expanding: From the early 80s Heavy Metal oriented newcomers that want to musically move on the next level offering a richer sound, to a wide range of underground bands that really managed to make the sonic difference, adding to the bigger part of the US Power Metal sound, its trademark characteristics that still identify the genre until today.
In 1986 HELSTAR from Texas, released the first of their three trademark albums: the “Remnants of War” masterpiece, in 1988 VICIOUS RUMORS from California gifted humanity with their “Digital Dictator” album, while during the same year RIOT from New York are offering their “Thundersteel” classic. DEADLY BLESSING from New Jersey wrote some history releasing their “Ascend from the Cauldron” debut and ok I am stopping here cause you do not need anymore examples to confirm that the second part of the 80s and especially the decade’s final quarter was the time period that brought US Power Metal on its throne.
One -not so wide in range but enormously important- scene that offered some trademark albums of the US Power Metal genre was the scene of Oklahoma. I will just mention the same titled debut by OLIVER MAGNUM (1988), the classic “The Awakening” (1986) full length by POWERLORD and the “Stranger Than Fiction” (1992) and “Division” (1994) albums by FORTE two albums that drove the genre to the 90s realm. Oklahoma scene ladies and gentlemen: The hidden force of US Power Metal.
So yes, we are in the the mid -to late- 80s, when the actual core of a very important part of the US Metal underground, is born by newcomers -like the ones described above-, in rehearsal spaces, recording studios and smaller or bigger venues. Many of those bands would move forward -in some cases breaking the underground borders-, managing to record and release albums that today are regarded as classics.
LEGIONED MARCHER from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, US did not manage to release a classic album. But they managed to write some serious Metal history, recording just two demo songs and giving a bunch of live shows on their hometown. Yes, some serious Metal history. With just two songs and a bunch of live shows.
The band was formed in 1986 and split a few months later, on 1987: “We were a band less than a year…”, bassist Rev Jones recalls. During this very sort period LEGIONED MARCHER have managed to record two of the most remarkable songs in the entire US Metal realm: “Praise Thunder” and “Under Fire”. Both those hymns were recorded and mixed in just 35 minutes on a local studio. The band did not have the cash to make an official demo release, so they just duplicated their two songs on tapes that were spread hand in hand around Oklahoma City.
For years and years on the usual nerdy conversations about the “classic US Power Metal albums”, I always placed those two songs on the top of my list, especially when the conversation was focusing on this particular type of US Power Metal that actually shapes the genre’s identification: fast and complex riffing, high pitched vocals, stormbringing drumming and the similar. Everyone always looked me quite strangely cause I was placing two demo songs above the classic full lengths, but everyone was starting to catch my point after the first verse of “Praise Thunder” was about to finish.
I am not going to make any further analysis: Those two songs are total, masterpieces, absolute hymns deserving just our worship.
But for those who keep on asking how those hymns are sound like, I would add this: Imagine, a straight forward combination of early FATES WARNING and CRIMSON GLORY of the debut, mixed with some EP era QUEENSRYCHE under a grooving touch of classic Metal.
But why I have got to this LEGIONED MARCHER writing ecstasy? Because there is finally an official LEGIONED MARCHER release by Arkeyn Steel Records.
“Praise Thunder” release features every single recording of this band on one CD. Yes there is some more LEGIONED MARCHER stuff to check out. But lets take things one by one.
So… The band’s two studio demo recordings have been remastered from the best possible source, shaping the main part of this release.
The Arkeyn Steel Records team also managed to discover the band’s entire debut live show at The Diamond Ballroom, Oklahoma City, OK (September, 12th, 1986). Two officially unreleased songs are featured on this particular live recording. The complete show (four songs in total) has been also remastered -by Kostas Scandalis at Infinity Studio (Thessaloniki, Greece)- and added as bonus. So we got six LEGIONED MARCHER songs in one CD.
The live songs are sounding great. The live versions of the demo songs have been performed in even faster tempos compared to the studio version (yes the same good, old story that actually appeals to most of the bands out there: to play the live songs faster lol). The tow unreleased songs that can be heard on their live recorded versions are absolutely great as well, following the usual LEGIONED MARCHER direction and actually presenting a young and talented band.
There is also a lot of cool stuff going on for the visual part of the release: The original artwork that was designed for the band by Larry Sutterfield is finally presented officially. Kostas Athanasoglou has restored the entire original drawing, practically saving the original band logo. Every single band photo that could be tracked down is used on the booklet and the lyrics of the two masterpieces are officially presented for the very first time. What else can we ask for?
An in depth interview with Rev. Jones, bassist and founding member of LEGIONED MARCHER is also featured in the booklet including a wide range of information about the band.
As I have just referred to Rev Jones I have to point that he continued his musical career participating in many other bands (FORTE, BLACK SYMPHONY, STEELHEART, MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP etc), while vocalist Bill Dollins sang into “Division”, the second album by the fellow metal citizens FORTE.
Through this official release Arkeyn Steel Records does justice to one of the most talented US Metal bands out there.
The US Power Metal universe would be very different if LEGIONED MARCHER have managed to release a full length. Unfortunately they didn’t, but fortunately we got this official release as the ultimate tribute to their legend.
Release date is December, 24th, you can pre order the CD here.