HE IS LEGEND- ‘few’
Even in their earliest days they were too weird for metal, too soft for hardcore, and too heavy for the emo scene that gained mainstream traction and exploded around them. I’m sure it used to grate on the band, that they never quite fit in, never quite blew up, but while trends come and go, it seems oddness endures, and, apart from a short hiatus a few years back, the Carolina quartet continued on while a great many of their peers faded away.
In fact, the group actually seem to be going from strength to strength, touring relentlessly and raising almost $72,000 (way over target) through an IndieGoGo campaign to produce this, their fifth full-length. Now, whether the grand total took a weight off isn’t clear but ‘few’ sure oozes confidence.
Opener ‘Air Raid’ starts slow, with a shimmering, hazy, hypnotic riff, but soon accelerates, like a fuse has been lit, before blooming to reveal a mammoth chorus, the blast, the big badaboom, the payoff. And it’s exactly the kind of (odd) thing He Is Legend have always done so well- a fusion of slick rock licks (guitar solo!) and punk power, of defined poise and defiant spit and vinegar. The gear shift in the final seconds is made for headbanging, the rhythm section are right in the pocket, enforcing the serpentine melodies rather than riding over them, and Schuylar Croom’s husky vocals wrap around the riffs like weeds up a wall. At times it sounds like he’s casting a spell.
Elsewhere the group explore some of the the same huge fuzzy grooves they’ve been navigating since 2006’s standout ‘Suck Out the Poison’, but here there are new extremes. There’s more light, in the slinking vibes of ‘Alley Cat’, and more dark, in the Slipknot-esque ‘Sand’, the thick fog of ‘Jordan’, and ‘The Vampyre’, which captures Croom sounding like a feral man beast even when the chorus melody kicks in. And oh man, those melodies. There are riffs, hooks, and whole songs here that will not rest until you’re humming them as you drift off to sleep.
The record is top heavy though. As things progress the tempo settles and the production seems to flatten, the moments that make your ears prick arrive less often and the Led Zeppelin-inspired jam session stuff increases. With repeated listens however, even the loosest stuff works its way into the blood.
Thirteen years since their day-glo debut, ‘few’ finds He Is Legend still outside, still looking in, but now fully embracing their stranger status. This record isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about this band but frankly this band don’t care. Too weird to explode. Too unique to die. The odd band out. Get in.