If you're not familiar with the flesh-ripping death-thrash from Holland's Legion of the Damned, get your start with "The Widow's Breed," the first song off the band's forthcoming record, Slaves of the Shadow Realm, premiering here at Loudwire.

It's been five years since we've heard from the group, who last delivered Ravenous Plague in 2014. "The Widow's Breed" is equal parts thrash and death metal, walking the tightrope that separates the two worlds. Dark, melodic overtones invoke a sinister feeling and the serrated riffage found here would please any old school Kreator and Sodom fan.

Slaves of the Shadow Realm, the seventh album from Legion of the Damned since changing their name from Occult in 2005, will arrive on Jan. 4 through Napalm Records. Pre-orders for the album can be placed here.

Check out the artwork and track listing below and to read our interview with Maurice Swinkels, head further down the page.

Legion of the Damned, Slaves of the Shadow Realm Artwork + Track Listing

Napalm Records
Napalm Records

01. "The Widow's Breed"
02."Nocturnal Commando"
03."Charnel Confession"
04."Slaves of the Southern Cross"
05."Warhounds of Hades"
06."Black Banners in Flames"
07."Shadow Realm of the Demonic Mind"
08. "Palace of Sin"
09."Priest Hunt"
10."Azazels Crown"
11."Dark Coronation"

Interview With Legion of the Damned Frontman Maurice Swinkels

Tim Tronckoe
Tim Tronckoe

It's been five years since Legion of the Damned released an album. What caused the delay?

In 2006, we changed our name from Occult to Legion of the Damned and until the last record, 2014's Ravenous Plague, things were pretty turbulent. Release after release, tour after tour, festival after festival... combined with a lot of pressure, we decided that after Ravenous it was time to cool off and not play the typical areas in Europe.

We started writing slowly for our next record and in the meantime organizing ‘fun’ tours and places to play. We did shows in Dubai and Beirut, in Lebanon and a small tour in Latin America where we played in Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia and Mexico again. We also did a small tour in Asia: Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines. It felt actually good to have this kind of ‘rest’; it recharges your batteries to the fullest and with the new record, Slaves of the Shadow Realm, we are better than ever!

In an era where the market is oversaturated with new music, is there a benefit to taking some extended time off, maybe to build greater demand for a new record?

Right! I wanted fans to be excited again to see Legion of the Damned. Sometimes it's good to lay low and come back with a bang. It can be tricky though, because the movement goes fast — new bands are coming in, new metalheads who never heard of you before... so you can be forgotten quickly too. Of course, if your name is Slayer or Metallica you can be away for 10-15 years and come back, but for a smaller caliber band, you have to find the balance really.

What was the first thrash band you ever heard and how did it change what you looked for in heavy metal?

The first bands I heard was in ’86 or ’87: Kreator, Destruction, Sodom and Whiplash. My cousin was 17 or 18 years old at the time and I was 12 or 13 years old. I always saw him going to rock cafes in his village, wearing these black/white striped stretcher pants, long hair and shirts with horror images. I loved the rebel idea in that, especially at that time where I was wearing clothes that my parents bought for me.

I got tapes from him that he recorded for me which included Yngwie Malmsteen, Iron Maiden, Possessed, Kreator, Venom, Dio, Metallica and Destruction. It was raw, hard and it set you apart from the masses. That's where I started to listen to metal on my headphones while also playing with Technic Lego at the same time (laughs). When I was 17 I started one of Holland’s first black metal bands, Bestial Summoning, and shortly after in 1990, Occult. It completely changed my life and I could really not imagine not listening to metal anymore.

I've read that you're involved in the wedding business recording videos. How long have you been doing this for and what led to working in this industry?

[laughs] Yeah that might be a shock to some of Legion’s fans! I started my video production company in 2003 doing mainly music videos. I did two Exodus videos in San Francisco, a Kataklysm video in Canada, Immolation in New York... I've also done videos for Wintersun, Gorefest, Masterplan, Imperanon, Primal Fear, Asphyx, Suicidal Angels, Endstille, Aborted and tons more. I did a DVD for Behemoth, Edguy and Agent Steel and live recordings for Testament, Anthrax and Laaz Rockit.

Being a filmmaker, my brother asked me to record his wedding and later his friend asked me to record his. When budgets at labels became less and less along with the need for filmmakers, because nowadays everybody owns a great camera (even iPhones are 4K) — jobs coming in for music videos were also less. I also wanted to do jobs that were closer to home because most of the videos I did were outside of Holland which involved being away weekends and flying.

I slowly came into the wedding business when couples started asking me more and more based on the videos I did. I decided to do more wedding videos because it was good and fast money and I've been doing this now for 10 to 12 years. Sometimes I get recognized at weddings where guests know that I am the singer of Legion of the Damned and they message their friends, "You won't believe who is actually filming at this wedding here!"

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