by Jonathan Beatty
When He is Legend announced they were going on a self imposed hiatus in 2009, many wondered if the band would ever come back, let alone return with new music in tow.
After sparse reunion shows, and a few more lineup changes, HIL dropped 2014’s Heavy Fruit (Tragic Hero Records) to high praise from long time fans and critics alike.
After heavy touring behind their comeback album, the North Carolina quartet announced they were starting a indiegogo to help fund their new album, which the band had trepidations about doing initially.
“We were very scared at first about how unpunk rock it is to do the crowdfuding situation. We studied a lot of other people’s campaigns to try and figure out the ins and outs, and what was positive about it and what was negative about it,” said singer Schuylar Croom when we sat down to discuss their new album, Few.
Few as a whole picks up where its predecessors Heavy Fruit and 2009’s It Hates You left off with its penchant for monstrous, Sabbath style riffs and off kilter rhythms that unfurl into choruses so saccharine Def Leoppard would be jealous. However that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few curveballs thrown in for good measure.
Guitarists Denis Desloge and Adam Tanbouz are a very formidable two-headed guitar attack, showcasing their ability to weave in and out of many styles, sometimes stopping on a dime to do such, all while providing ample space for bassist Matty Williams and drummer Sam Huff to add some dynamics to these songs as well.
Songs like “Sand” and “Gold Dust” could be featured on any active rock radio station and become a smash hit with driving choruses that should become crowd favorites when the album is released.
“Jordan” and “Eastern Locust” should satiate fans thirst for the heavier side of the band with the former sounding like a long lost Alice in Chains track, even down to the vocal melodies. While songs like “Silent Gold”, “Allie Cat” and “Call Ins” lean more in the bluesy rock realm.
“Fritz the dog” slips into some vaudevillian styling’s in the verses, while Croom’s lyrics evoked strong Mike Patton vibes ala “Zombie Eaters”, before taking another shift into a mid tempo swirling groove and back again.
“I grew up buying Mike Patton’s avant-garde vocal records. I grew up loving Faith No More, Tomahawk, Fantomas,” Croom shared of the songs unique vocal/lyrical approach “It’s definitely Mike Patton/Tom Waits influenced”.
While “Fritz the dog” seemingly acts as a palate cleanser for the albums closing tracks; “The Vampyre” and “The Garden”, with the latter seeing the band follow its trend of sending off their albums in a grandiose manner.
Clocking in at just over 6 minutes long, “The Garden” immediately has a different feel to it than any of the other songs, allowing its parts the room to breathe and build, thus creating some room for guests to work their magic.
“We knew that was going to be the song that needed a really insane guitar solo, like a Dimebag Darrell guitar solo,” recalled Croom of the track, “We called out to Dusty from Between the Buried and Me. He did the solo at the end of the song. Josh Moore (from Beloved/Classic Case) did the vocals in the middle part”
While discussing the closing track, Schuylar brought up a staple of all He Is Legend albums, the China White “series”. Croom revealed, “Heavy Fruit is a continuation of that series. In a way this (The Garden) was the North Carolina homage to the ‘China White Series’”.
Overall Few is a very enjoyable listen that keeps bringing me back for several listens, with new nuances discovered on each listen. Some fans criticized the bands financial breakdown of this record initially, but have to say the money was well spent, as this is one of the best sounding records the band has put out.
The only negative is that at times the songs are a little too predictable in their arrangements, but doesn’t take away from the actual music presented across this album.
Few comes out on April 28th on Spinefarm records. You can still pre order the album at here and here, and keep up with the band across their socials Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see when they are coming to a town near you.”