Hailing from somewhere in New Colombia and having managed to cause quite a stir stateside, He Is Legend haven’t bothered many people this side of New York thus far. However, with the imminent release of the surreal, fairy tale inspired Suck Out the Poison, those of you dotted around the European metal scene who are partial to devouring sweet and sour in the same serving are in for an aural treat.
Though I shall spend the next few paragraphs expounding upon this album, it could in fact be summed up in one word; groove. Not groove like a throwback ’70s disco cover by a bubblegum pop band, I mean groooooooove in the heaviest sense possible; the sort of thing that can only be explained by the involuntary contorted facial expression and half time nodding head motion which accompanies its presence. For those still unsure, check the shelves of your local record store under Down, or Crowbar and upon listening, note your subsequent reflexes.
This situation is epitomised brilliantly by opening track Dixie Wolf, which starts with a tom thumping driving beat that wouldn’t be out of place on a Fu Manchu record and subsequently lulls you in like a female spider seducing her mate into her lair for the kill. With an easy listening chorus that is merely a smokescreen for the grinding bridge, the introduction of Schuylar Croom’s nightmarish growls come with a shock. The building breakdown, which ends up in a swirling half time crescendo of doom is a fitting wake up call for the next hour of melodic hard rock that is as fresh as we could hope for in the bleak mid-wasteland of the new year.
It is quickly apparent that He Is Legend have instantly recognisable, if not truly pigeonhole-able elements to their sound; the emo choruses of Jimmy Eat World proportions, southern rock grime of many many in the Kyuss ilk and vocal tendencies that have more in common with prior label mates Living Sacrifice. But just like a fine ground roast, it’s all these elements blended seamlessly together that gives the final product its unique kick.
If its triple espresso punch you’re after, Serpent Sickness offers it abundantly. It might be slow in pace, but for what it lacks in speed it delivers devastatingly in fierce gusts of gut wrenching metal. Mushroom River is by far a grower; for upon first hearing Mr Croom wailing away about the trees being alive, one has to wonder what sort of mushrooms he is in fact referring to. Although the harsh verses and soft, swaying chorus are a little chalk and cheese for my liking, fans of Demon Hunter like this side of the band.
Closing with nearly nine minutes of some of that aforementioned groove laden insanity, I am stumped as to why this song is hidden at the end of the album. Perhaps it’s a reward for those who’ve been faithful thus far, either way, when the female vocals unexpectedly kick in around the four minute mark someone’s either been listening repeatedly to the Orange Goblin opus Black Egg, or great minds really do think alike. For the remaining minutes, if at some point you do not catch sight of your reflection in the mirror, face screwed up, nodding your head in that half time motion, experiencing the ‘groove’ first hand; then you should burn all your music and be forbidden from buying music again. Ever.