Legion of the Damned are a Dutch death/thrash metal band. Originally formed in 1992 as a black/thrash band named Occult, they released five albums between 1994 and 2003 before reforming under their current name in 2005. A myriad of circumstances led to their name change, stemming mainly from the band's frontman Maurice Swinkels being overshadowed by their co-vocalist Rachel Heyzer, notable for being one of the few female extreme metal vocalists at the time, who left the band in 2002 to join Sinister. Swinkels believed that it was time for the band to start over from square one, and shed their image as "that band with Rachel Heyzer in it", which led to them releasing their debut album Malevolent Rapture, originally intended as the sixth album under their old name, in early 2006. Upon release, it received universal praise, with many reviewers calling it one of the best death/thrash albums to ever come out of Europe, even hailing it as a modern classic. This newfound success did not overwhelm the members, instead motivating them to stay on top of their game, releasing their second album Sons of the Jackal almost a year to the day after their debut. It received similar praise, albeit not quite to the same extent, and it seemed at that point that there was no stopping them.
Things began to slow down a little bit afterwards, however. Wanting to take their time with their next release, the band re-released their final album as Occult, 2003's Elegy for the Weak, in early 2008 under the Legion name with the new title Feel the Blade, remastering the production and rearranging the tracklist, as a way to hold fans over. With this serving as their third album, their fourth album in three years, Cult of the Dead released in December 2008. The album was notable for having an unusual piece of merchandise sold with its special editions, which was a block of cheese with their logo emblazoned on it. This was a nod to the band's origins in the Netherlands, and to this day is considered to be one of the most unique pieces of music memorabilia in history.
After Cult of the Dead's release, the band began began to work slowly on their next album, Descent into Chaos, which was eventually released in 2011. Unfortunately, tragedy would strike the band later that year. Longtime guitarist Richard Ebisch left the group, and very shortly after, the band's former bassist, Twan Fleuren, who left the band in 2006 on tour when his son was hospitalized, committed suicide on May 21. He was only 40 years old. He had expressed interest in returning to the band shortly before his death, even offering to take Richard's spot, but sadly did not get the chance. Fleuren's reasons for taking his own life remain a mystery to this day.
Even after these tragic events, the band still soldiered through, eventually releasing a new album Ravenous Plague in January 2014. Afterwards, the group took a brief hiatus from writing, continuing to tour and even releasing their own line of beer, named "Black Baron" after one of their most popular songs, in summer 2018. As of now, the band continues to enjoy success, and have released their first album in five years, Slaves of the Shadow Realm, on January 4, 2019. In addition to his work with the band, vocalist Maurice Swinkels is also a skilled director, running a business in filming professional wedding videos.
- Maurice Swinkels - vocals
- Erik Fleuren - drums
- Harold Gielen - bass
- Twan van Geel - guitar
- Richard Ebisch - guitar (2005-2011)
- Twan Fleuren - bass (2005-2006; died 2011)
Former members (as Occult):
- Sjors Tuithof - bass (1992-1999)
- Leon Pennings - guitar (1992-1999)
- Rachel Heyzer - vocals (1994-2002)
Discography (as Occult):
- Prepare to Meet Thy Doom (1994)
- The Enemy Within (1996)
- Of Flesh and Blood (1999)
- Rage to Revenge (2001)
- Elegy for the Weak (2003) (final album as Occult)
- Malevolent Rapture (2006)
- Sons of the Jackal (2007)
- Feel the Blade (2008) (re-release of final Occult album)
- Cult of the Dead (2008)
- Descent into Chaos (2011)
- Ravenous Plague (2014)
- Slaves of the Shadow Realm (2019)