If you’re a prog rock fan and you’ve never heard about Legend, it might be somewhat understandable, since their name isn’t referred that often over rock’s most reputed and trustworthy news sources. However, if you consider yourself to be an avid pursuer of new sounds and never came across their stuff, you’re surely missing out on one of the most intriguing bands that this artistically ambitious musical niche has to offer. Hailing from England, the group already benefits from several years of existence, having started out in the late eighties. After almost 15 years inactive they’ve returned with 2011’s “Cardinal Points”, a strong album that is now followed by the intense and grandiose “Spirit”, a true showcase of their instrumental wizardry and songwriting prowess.
But you might ask, if you never heard them before, what does this band sound like? Well, if you’re one to take an honest interpretation based on the analysis of influence crossings, on “Spirit”, Legend present themselves as a diverse symphonic progressive metal band with lots of neoclassical flourishes and an exquisite aptitude to construct their songs around mystical sounding musical landscapes. Throughout this album, their music is the representation of a marriage between Genesis’ operatic style, the atmospheric driven sound of Yes and the harder edge and musical dexterity of an act such as Fates Warning.
“Spirit” is a roller coaster of exquisite sounds and it starts off with “Leap of Faith”, an epic 11minute song, which has loads of time changes, different spices of keyboard solos and various ambiences. The sublime cross between melody and heaviness is well accomplished, making “Leap” stand as a great introduction that simultaneously sets the stage for what the listener is about to receive. “Wood of the Trees”, the second number, combines typical retro and ‘70s characteristic keyboard sounds with intricate guitar work and sudden rhythmical shifts which showcase the abilities of the band’s drummer. The album’s greatest moment is without a doubt “A Tangled Skein”, whose verses unravel themselves upon dark sounding passages. Its epic sounding choirs, disturbing melodies, killer keyboard sequences and imposing riffs, all spread out across 18 minutes of music, make this the most deep and intense cut in the whole record.
Of the last two songs, “Crossing of the Ways” is a totally different number from the rest, something more in the vein of Leaves’ Eyes. Kind of a progressive power ballad which is essentially driven by keyboards and diverse sampling sounds. “State of Grace”, the last song, is the most conservative number on “Spirit” and manages to close its grandiose show with a ‘80s heavy metal-ish kind of vibe to it.
The album has a solid production, but sadly, the rhythm guitars are sometimes heavily buried in the mix, under the weight of all the intense keyboard usage. Other than that, these guys sure know what they’re doing and their experience shows. The band’s musicians have loads of weapons in their technical arsenal and fortunately they also had the right musical sensitivity to put them to good use. Youngsters sure could learn a thing or two with these guys, especially on how to slow down and focus more on the musical and songwriting aspects of each song, instead of focusing in the currents trends of note spitting contests and djent influenced monotonous technical snooze-fests.
With “Spirit”, Legend have effectively blended space rock with progressive metal while throwing a few psychedelia and folk elements to the mix at times, which turned this album into an adventurous musical melting pot and something to take the listener on a musical journey. So, do yourself a favor, if you don’t know this band, go ahead and pick up “Spirit”, which will prove to be a terrific start to the rest of Legend’s work. You won’t regret it, for they have the potential to become one of your favorite progressive rock bands!
(9/10 Luis Alves)