Returning from their very own Cabin In The Woods experience, North Carolina’s He Is Legend are back with fifth album Few. Retreating to a remote location in Carborro, NC – the band locked themselves away, far from phones signals and as frontman Schuylar Croom explains “Rather than turning on the TV at night, we’d be sitting around a fire to stay warm drinking wine. It brought an element of darkness out of me”. It was truly do or die during the almost entirely crowdfunded record too ; the band declaring that if they reached their target, Few would become a reality and if not, the record would not see the light of day. Luckily fans responded in droves, easily exceeding the band’s desired amount. So with all of the energy and motivation of knowing just how much their audience wanted another record, could He Is Legend build on the acclaim that 2014’s Heavy Fruit saw them receive?
The answer is a resounding yes.
Early singles Air Raid and Sand were impressive in their scope and impact ; the former a winding, trippy intro launched head-first into pummeling low-slung riffery and the latter a punchy groove-metal assault complete with as catchy a chorus as you would hope to find. Two tracks in and the band have already demonstrated most of the key elements that fans have come to love about them and guess what… they aren’t about to stop there.
Throughout their musical tenure, He Is Legend have found ways to wrap up big-time melodies in burly guitar riffs and on Few they have damn near perfected this art. In parts, the record plays as part deux to their previous effort, albeit alot heavier in places. The sinewy rhythmic funk of Alley Cat and acid-trip fever dream of Gold Dust recall the dramatic yet hooky vibes of their predecessor. Part of what made this dramatic feel work on previous outings and certainly what aids the band’s overall sound this time around is Croom’s lyrical output ; maturing from the twisted story-book fare of Suck Out The Poison to the cryptic but no less spellbinding imagery of Air Raid here, which Croom explains “It’s about how the earth wants humans to be gone”.
For fans of their earlier outings, there is nothing quite as erratic as The Seduction here – in it’s place jagged southern-rock ala Beaufort and the lumbering Down-esque grind of Jordan. Thankfully, alongside the more experimental and indeed heavier moments, the band don’t forget to suck the listener back from oblivion with hummable melodies, as can be heard on the previously mentioned Sand and the alluring yet grimy Silent Gold.
Morphing from post-hardcore sensation into southern metal purveyors to mention but a few of their incarnations, He Is Legend have pooled their collective résumé into a sound that is uniquely them. It’s what makes Few such an fascinating listen as unlike the foggy brilliance of Heavy Fruit or the jittery fun of It Hates You, Few not only has something for most every fan of heavy sounds, but it twists and pushes each one of these elements, in turn getting the very best out of each track. Nearly fifteen years in the making, He Is Legend might just have put together their most cohesive record yet and no doubt an early contender for album of the year.
Few is out April 28th on Spinefarm Records.