Mithras - Forever Advancing... Legions
Brutal Death Metal
12 songs (46:48)
Release year: 2004
Mithras, Candlelight
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Seeing the kudos that this British unit was receiving for 2007’s Behind The Shadows Lie Madness, I thought why not journey back to the band’s earlier days and sing the praises of the debut? Although originally released in 2002, Forever Advancing… Legions suffered from a poor production, and so the 2004 Candlelight reissue shows the album in all its intended glory. For a band that in later years would become so spacey and powerful, this album is very much grounded on the earth, although there are hints of the later path. I like to think of this album as a journey across the ancient earth, its follow-up Worlds Beyond The Veil an interstellar voyage and Behind The Shadows what lies at the destination.

Consisting of just two people, bassist and vocalist Rayner Coss and uber-talented guitarist and drummer Leon Macey, Mithras channels the spirit of Morbid Angel and twists it into new and (mostly) epic forms. The title and opening track is a four minute plus keyboard piece that avoids the pitfalls of the vast majority of keyboard intros by actually being good; ambient noise backing what sounds like church organs welcoming the advancing legions, and preparing them for the coming onslaught. Light-speed drumming and some furious riffage open Trample Their Works, a tale of brutality told through Coss at his most Death Metal here, echoing bellows that rise above the murk of his bass and the psychedelic lead guitar. Tempo changes, breakdowns, solos, it’s all present and it’s all wonderful, punching you in the gut multiple times and leaving you breathless. Of course, if ever you were going to go out and trample the works of some pathetic weakling, this would be the perfect soundtrack.

What’s special about this album over the later efforts from Mithras is the sheer quality of the songwriting. The twists and turns in Sloping Altars are mind-bendingly heavy yet utterly catchy, driven along by the fast playing and enhanced by the production, which is wonderfully organic and alive. Few other bands could make Arena Sands, a track with cheering crowds and animal snarls that places you atmospherically in the coliseum, with a psychedelic synth section in the middle. And how well the album is laid out, with a double keyboard interlude in the middle, giving you a rest from the early brutal drive before the latter, slightly more experimental part of Forever Advancing… Legions comes charging forth.

This starts with the mid-paced rumble of Wrath Of God, catchy riffs backing more epic shouts from Coss, whilst the drums clatter away in the background to perfect overall effect. Whilst you’re still marvelling over this, the six minute even-more-epic-than-all-the-other-epic-songs As The Wind Blows kicks in, sounding like a reinvigorated Nile. Using a section from the previous track and making it even more crunchy and catchy, the song gradually slows before stopping altogether, only to speed up and slow down again before exploding into a Hawkwindian fountain of melody that must be heard to be believed.

Vae Solis is more brutal than anything yet, and just as inventive with the usage of drums. Never content to just blastbeat, Macey constantly changes his style, approaching the thrones of Sandoval and Mounier, and his work here is worth the price of the album on its own. Dreaming In Splendour is a personal standout, the moment partway through the madness when all stops but for some descending synth notes and Coss’ voice throatily screaming ‘I RISE, I SOAR, I AM… EVERLASTING’ before the music kicks back in and carries you away on a river of melody.

Tomb Of Kings and outro What Lies Beyond carry the album to its close, the latter interesting as it joins up nearly perfectly with the start of the next album. Alas, that can feel as if the band went slightly over the top with the spacey, psychedelic elements of its sound and forgot the Death Metal, but that’s a tale for another day. What matters for the moment is that Forever Advancing… Legions is my favourite of the band’s three albums to date, the first I heard and the one that impressed most, despite arguably being less complex than later efforts. It’s a remarkable piece of work, proof positive that Britain has more strings to its Death Metal bone than the big names of Napalm Death and Bolt Thrower, as well as a stern warning to Morbid Angel - what the legend’s next album must beat. Death Metal connoisseurs everywhere should already know Mithras’ name; if you’ve not joined in the worship yet, this is an excellent place to start.

Killing Songs :
Trample Their Works, Sloping Altars, Arena Sands, Wrath Of God, As The Wind Blows, Vae Solis, Dreaming In Splendour
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Mithras that we have reviewed:
Mithras - On Strange Loops reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Mithras - Time Never Lasts (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Mithras - Worlds Beyond the Veil reviewed by Thomas and quoted 92 / 100
Mithras - Behind The Shadows Lie Madness reviewed by Dylan and quoted 88 / 100
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