The words ‘Why didn’t I get into (insert band here) sooner?!’ are uttered a large amount in the world of the music fan. It’s accepted that nobody is completely on top with every single act in any given genre but there’s always an air of annoyance when someone comes along that knocks socks off listeners left, right and centre that have, by and large, slipped under the radar until now. North Carolina outfit HE IS LEGEND are certainly in that bracket when it comes to the UK audience.
Forming in 2003, the band released three great albums before going on hiatus in 2009 and reconvening two years later. Few is the band’s fifth release and first since 2014’s Heavy Fruit, released via Spinefarm Records and backed by a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign that reached 124% of its target within 30 days of going live. To boot, it’s also been produced by Al Jacobs, owner of the famed Warrior Sound Studio where the band recorded both Heavy Fruit and third record It Hates You.
As with their previous releases there’s a raft of different sounds and elements contained within Few, which can be a pitfall if the songs aren’t pulled off with purpose and gusto. Thankfully, there’s enough conviction present that HE IS LEGEND send all twelve songs down with a life sentence. Opening number Air Raid is a true rocker, with nods to bands like MASTODON and RED FANG as it enters sludgier territory but builds to a mosh-inducing chorus and contains a beautiful solo from guitarist Adam Tanbouz; follow up Sand is more at home amongst the post-hardcore world but still combines that with a stompy riff to open and another soaring chorus, showcasing the vocal work of Schulyar Croom perfectly. There’s a more atmospheric approach to Silent Gold but its no less potent whilst God Dust – Croom‘s favourite song on the record by his own admittance – brings in a psychedelic side to HE IS LEGEND‘s arsenal; the momentum builds again with the grungier Eastern Locust and the harsher landscapes of Fritz the Dog.
What’s brilliant is that at no point does the album lapse or become a bit tedious; despite the varying styles and tones, it’s a proper journey from start to finish. Talking of finish, the last two songs – the rollicking The Vampyre and the brooding, doom-metal tempo of The Garden – bring the album full circly and encapsulate everything that Few achieves with its changing ideas and compelling listening.The nod to Madame Helena Blatvasky‘s occult classic The Voice of the Silence is also very appropriate, as there’s a foreboding tinge that travels throughout the album, never straying into the foreground but present enough to send a shiver down the spine when noticed.
This isn’t a straightforward album, it will need a good number of listens to fully digest, but doing so uncovers a rich, layered release that will continue to thrill fans and newcomers alike for the rest of 2017 and beyond. Hopefully it will reward HE IS LEGEND with an opening to the next step up in their career and thrust them into a more prominent spotlight, because they deserve it off the back of this.
Few is set for release on April 28th via Spinefarm Records.
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