Forever Advancing Legions (Re-Released)
posted on 10/2004 By:
Mithraism, the antiquated religion devoted to war god Mithras, is now but a shadow of its former self. Even as far as ancient mythologies go, it's really obscure. However, 4000 years ago the cult of Mithras stretched its tendrils from the depths of the sub-continent to the farthest reaches of both Britain and China. A faith based on strict rituals and stoic self discipline, the Mithraets believed that the great Lord Mithras ruled omnipotently over both the heavens and the battlefield. It is the mythic paradox of serenity and brutality which surrounds Mithras that the band bearing his namesake attempts to capture.
Hailing from England and having recently made considerable waves with their most recent release, Worlds Beyond the Veil, Mithras the band is not nearly as obscure in the metal scene as the deity from which it draws its name. However, before sending numerous print magazines and web sites in a fury of unprecedented praise, they released a rather intriguing album that should by no means pass under the radar of fans of their recent output, or metal fans in general.
Forever Advancing ... Legions, in may ways, is the logical predecessor to Worlds Beyond the Veil. Many similar themes are found running throughout both, and their level of effectiveness on each album is very similar. The etherial instrumentals that painted an ever so vivid picture of the cosmos on Worlds Beyond the Veil conjure the image of vast hordes of warriors marching forth into epic battles. Mithras' ability to evoke such powerful imagery is well honed even at this early point in their development. While these soundscapes occasionally border on pretentious or meandering, they more often provide the songs with a feeling of other worldly grandeur. "Dreaming In Splendor" blasts forward at a typical death metal gait, before being sucked into a black hole by a truly bizarre guitar and keyboard run. Surprisingly, these seemingly diametric opposites mesh seamlessly as the band puts a great deal of effort into writing fluid transitions. Mithras does display a perceptible Morbid Angel affinity, but the riffwork of mastermind Leon Macey is satisfyingly unpredictable and prevents the album from falling into the mind numbing tedium that many Morbid Angel acolytes cannot seem to avoid. Aside from his unconventional riff patterns, the leads Macey lays down fit exceptionally well within the songs' grand structures. "...As the Wind Blows" is perhaps the finest example of Mithras clicking on all cylinders. Driving double-bass percussion lays the groundwork for a massive harmonic laden guitar riff, and a sublime solo.
Unfortunately just as this album serves as the blueprint for many of the successes found on Worlds Beyond the Veil, it also foreshadows many of the criticisms that album would draw. Most glaring of these is the raw production. Just as on its successor, there are moments on this album when the overwhelming density of these tracks creates an impenetrable wall of noise, which slightly obscures just what the hell the band is doing. The mix is by no means awful, but these songs are incredibly busy, and the production can make sifting though the chaos a bit of an ordeal. As a result Forever ... Advancing Legions requires that the listener become fully immersed, so they can hear past the slightly raucous production and fully appreciate all that this band brings to the table. Those who want a spoon-feeding will undoubtedly pass over this album, however, it is their loss as there is some truly compelling material laying just below the surface of the rough mix.
Considering the amount of buzz that Worlds Beyond the Veil stirred up in the metal community, I'm shocked that Forever Advancing ... Legions passed under the noses of so many metal heads. While the band has undoubtedly continued to refine their sound, I can provide few examples of how this album is blatantly inferior to its successor. Fans who enjoy Mithras' current output, or anyone who fancies themselves a fan of all things extreme and slightly off the mark are highly encouraged to look into this album. Don't let its inauspicious debut fool you; Forever ... Advancing Legions is worth a look.
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Time Never Lasts
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Worlds Beyond the Veil