Epic Heavy Metal from Canada
I originally wrote and submitted this review to the metal archives, but I feel like this band is solid and unique enough to highlight once more here!
I’ll be the first to admit that I was apprehensive to check this band out. Illegal Bodies: a name so horrendous it puts them in the running with Chozzen Phate for worst trad metal band name. Digging in further, it seems that the name stems from a Simply Saucer (cult 70’s rock band) song – it makes their name awful, but fitting, given the themes presented in Mindflayers. Either way, I’m certainly glad to have put my pettiness aside because this album was genuinely a wonderful surprise.
Illegal Bodies is the brainchild of Mark Nicholson (responsible for all lyrics, songwriting, and instruments) in partnership with Matthew Higgerty on vocals. This dynamic duo does not shy away from wearing their influences on their sleeves: Slough Feg, Brocas Helm, and Manilla Road mix with a healthy dose of black metal to create a spacey vibe. The album cover, a black and white piece featuring aliens arriving at the Great Pyramids of Giza amongst ancient Egyptian gods, does an excellent job of setting the scene for what’s about to come. Mindflayers then walks through the story of alien overlords living amongst us, judging humanity’s worst atrocities, and then imposing a mass cleansing of the human race that culminates in the album’s final and longest unique track, “Xenocide”.
The aforementioned story progresses wonderfully through the music itself. Never does the album get boring: from the faster paced epic numbers such as “The Way of All Flesh Synthetic” and “Sees Things, Predicts Things” to the emotional, synth-laden instrumental “Cyborg Justice”, to songs simply dripping with black metal influence such as “Carrying the Fire”. The album caps off with a solid cover of Manilla Road’s legendry song “Necropolis”. It isn’t a bad cover at all and it’s always nice to pay homage to what was likely a major influence. The production of the album is a bit murky, but just the right amount to create the spacey atmosphere these guys went for. Really the only major downside that I find in this album is the fact that the track “Xenocide” drags on too long at 12 and a half minutes.
Mark truly has a solid grasp on songwriting and that’s apparent when listening through the album. The riffs are varied and enjoyable with few weak moments to be found. Mark’s songwriting isn’t the only highlight here; Matt Higgerty’s vocals are a treat throughout the album and cannot be ignored. His vocals are passionate and have a story-telling type of delivery that is reminiscent of Slough Feg’s Mike Scalzi, bringing character to already excellent songs.
The end result here is a thoroughly enjoyable and unique, sci-fi tinged slab of epic heavy metal. Mark and Matt were clearly having a great time putting this album together and that is apparent through the music. I highly recommend this release to any fans of the genre. Even if you aren’t, give this one a whirl. Their black metal heavy approach certainly makes them more appealing to extreme metal fans – it’s no wonder that Barbarian Wrath (RIP) picked these guys up several years after their self-release of this album. Here’s to hoping we see more of these guys in the future!
Favorite Track: Sees Things, Predicts Things
Album Rating: 91/100