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He Is Legend – White Bat Award winner

He Is Legend
White Bat
by Jack Lynch at 30 July 2019, 8:34 PM

In their infancy, HE IS LEGEND’s sound fit nicely into the Post-Hardcore wave of the early 2000’s. Fortunately for them, unlike a lot of their peers at the time the writing was beefier. Vocals were bathed in cigarettes and beer, and with each new subsequent album cycle, the band embraced an evolving mixer of Metalcore and Southern Metal that couldn’t really place them comfortably in one genre vs another. Each album gave us something new while perfecting something old as the band experimented and expanded their sound. The group’s elasticity has garnered a diehard fanbase that regularly announces the band’s underappreciation.  Now, almost 15 years on, HE IS LEGEND’s evolution has produced yet another great album in White Bat. The band throws everything into the arena, playing with just as much power and conviction as ever before. As the sixth full length release, if this album proves anything, it’s that there is plenty more left in the tank for the band to discover, as well as a lot more for all of us to enjoy.

HE IS LEGEND is one of those bands I experienced earlier in their career. A group I unknowingly saw perform in 2004, in a very small venue most would consider a room. Picture a bunch of long haired 20-year-old Punks packed shoulder to shoulder, punching holes in the drywall in order to create shaky footing as they scaled the perimeter and jumped into the fray. At the front line of this chaos were other soldiers, smashed against a makeshift stage that nearly snapped in half as the band performing spilled their guts through every song. That was my introduction to HE IS LEGEND, and it’s one of those memories I instantly fall back on when reminiscing about my crazier days at metal shows.

In a lot of ways, the first half of "White Bat" captures that youthful destruction. The first five tracks are a blaze of punkier, fast ripping guitars. The dizzying grand entrance of the title track "White Bat" is disorienting in the best possible way. It’s got everything; resonating power, rusty vocals, bass heavy downbeats, and gut-wrenching screams.  This song is pure diesel fuel, and it’s what we’ve come to expect from the Wilmington, North Carolina natives. The next track “Burn All Your Rock Records”, is another anthem of foot stomping and head smashing. The amount of energy Adam Tanbouz – guitar and Jesse Shelley – drums, crank out of their respective instruments is nothing short of infecting and Schuylar Croom’s vocals are a call to arms. “When the Woods Were Young” is a highlight for me as Croom’s talents are on full display, wrapping vocal melodies around guitar breakdowns that any average lead singer wouldn’t be able to squeeze a chorus out of. The first act of "White Bat" moves at top speed, so take a swig of whiskey, pass it on, and jump in the pit.

The latter half of the album takes on a few different forms. The two middle tracks “Bent” and “Register, Resist Her”, slow things down, substituting galloping and blast beats for more elongated, alternative metal arrangements. These tracks are perhaps the lowest part of the album, and that’s not saying anything negative about them. After the onslaught that was tracks 1 through 5, these songs were appropriately placed as a pallet cleanser and help create the transition into “Uncanny Valley”, a reflecting drift into melancholia. Then comes “Interloper”, a brilliant track that blends Croom’s poetic drunken torment with heavier riffs and ghostly howls. “Skin So Soft” pulls things back out of the dark and the final track “Boogiewoman” is a bottle raising dive bar dancing romp.

HE IS LEGEND has come a long way since the cramped, asbestos filled rooms of years past. It’s been exciting to see them transition over the years into a stoner metal juggernaut that never actually shelved their younger, more creative Hardcore tendencies. With "White Bat", HE IS LEGEND shows they can do it all and they can do it all very well. The tonal differences that vary from the beginning, middle, and end are expertly grouped in such a way that the movement is seamless. The album truly feels like a complete experience that says what it wants to say without outstaying its welcome. It’s isn’t just the perfect embodiment of a band’s past and present, but also an exciting look at a prosperous future, that seems to age like a fine bourbon in an oak barrel.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 10


a

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. White Bat
2.  Burn All Your Rock Records
3. When the Woods Were Young
4. Eye Teeth
5. Talking Stalker
6. Bent
7. Resister, Resist Her
8. Uncany Valley
9. The Interloper
10. Skin So Soft
11. Boogiewoman
Lineup:
Schuylar Croom – Vocals
Adam Tanbouz – Guitar
Matty Williams – Bass
Jesse Shelley – Drums
Record Label: Spinefarm Records
     


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