Doing the same old thing over and over again gets to be real boring. It’s a redundancy that sometimes we can’t break away from, and we’re doomed to repeat history time and time again. You gotta break that cycle every now and then and do the unexpected. Take almost any musical group for example. I’m sure most bands came up with their own formula when it came time to actually be sitting down and writing an album. They’d decide if they wanted to come up with an overlying for the whole album and have each individual track relate back to that in some form or another, or if each song was going to tell its own story. Would the band all write together? Would they do it in a studio or at their homes? Once all these decisions and plans were figured out, it then came time to create said album. Now a couple years down the road it perhaps became time to do it all over again. But how would it be done this time? So many groups are destined to relive the same paths and plans in their creations and it begins to reflect in their music. Everything sounds exactly the same to the point that each record just rolls into the next. There’s zero individuality and really zero point in releasing anything else cause the fans will swiftly drop like flies in their internet fueled bullshit rants and machismo. Not saying this formula doesn’t work to a point for some, but there naturally comes a time when you have to take a new stance, start from scratch, and ‘be the change’. Perhaps some should take a note from a band that has been so unpredictive that it’s the very thing that makes their music so incredible. He Is Legend rarely, if ever, do the expected. Over the years the North Carolina boys have been chameleons of the rock genre, starting more in the metalcore realm, but after that branched out into so many different styles and subgenres that it was hard to pin down what exactly they were. They’ve dipped their toes into psychedelic nuances, thrown in a little sludge just to keep things nasty, but one attribute the group seemed to throw in over that time (and became even more prevalent in recent albums) is southern rock/metal. This is where the boys truly shine. And their latest offering, entitled White Bat is the bands finest hour.
Don’t think for one moment that He Is Legend would ever entirely ditch their core roots. It is and seemingly always will be a core part of who they are (see what I did there?). The group definitely knows how to rock with huge musical balls, and the title track “White Bat” is a beyond perfect example of this. Without being a ‘true metal song’ as some would put it, it is still heavy as fuck. Frantic guitars and ballistic drumming kick it all off and what follows is a fast-paced track all chock full of the heavy. One could only assume that Schuylar Croom nightly gargles whiskey instead of mouthwash and we can all be thankful for it. His raspy, gravely howls are often what help to make He is Legend tracks so unique and that fact is no different in this song. Croom’s cigarette fueled croons simultaneously blend in and stand out perfectly with the distorted guitars and bass to the point that there’s absolutely no way the song could be what it is with anyone else. Here and there throughout the song Croom even belts out a slight scream which along with the overall style of the track shows reminiscence of the I Am Hollywood or Suck Out The Poison days. Especially at the end of the track where his growls become a little more guttural. This song is a perfect coupling of the new and old, but at its whole is something so fresh and amazing.
Music video by He Is Legend performing White Bat (Lyric Video). © 2018 Universal Music Operations Limited http://vevo.ly/SBKL9d
Now as much as He Is Legend can belt out the bangers, they have an extraordinary ability to also deliver something a little softer and more somber. This group aint no one trick pony. This is astonishingly obvious on each and every track, but even more predominately on ones like “Uncanny Valley”. Harmonious notes bring us to Croom’s more softened yet gravelly delivery which only add to the sad and eerie overall sound of the song. The secret star of this diddy is bassist Matty Williams. Throughout each verse if you listen closely beneath the guitar and vocals, you can hear Williams truly shine with a little bursts of an almost jazz like progression with his bass lines. During the chorus it provides a deep and haunting background that gives it that deep and richened tone for a little extra something. This song is a true stand out gem on White Bat, albeit much softer and slower than the rest but that’s almost what it makes it so perfect.
Ok listen, I know it’s kind of bullshit and gets a little boring when an album review talks about a bunch of songs you’ve already heard. You listened to them multiple times already and you get it. I get that. But give me a break here, because “Burn All Your Rock Records” is just such a bangin’, rock’n’roll rager! I mean this is exactly (on the surface at least) what we all want our rock music to be about, and the message we hope it sends! A fun yet outspoken ‘FUCK YOU!’ to all those who hate our music and our lifestyle. The intro to this track alone is pure rock’n’roll with the twangy guitar and hard-hitting drums, which culminates so perfectly with the pick slide on the strings. I’m pretty sure the old dude with the broom lives in every one of our apartments or next to our houses, because I sure have known a few in my time, and yet that’s never held me back from pumping a jam such as this at full volume in a rebellious taunt. The song almost harkens back to the ‘fight the power’ anthems of rock back in the 60’s and 70’s just with a modern, heavy twist. Not much more has to be said about this song, but that’s the beauty of it. It rocks and EVERYONE in the neighborhood will know it…regardless of how much and loud they yell to turn it down.
Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group Burn All Your Rock Records · He Is Legend Burn All Your Rock Records ℗ A Spinefarm Records Recording; ℗ 2019 Universal Music Operations Limited Released on: 2019-05-31 Producer, Studio Personnel, Recording Engineer: Al Jacob Studio Personnel, Mixer: Adam Nolly Getgood Studio Personnel, Mastering Engineer: Matt Tuttle Associated Performer, Vocals: Schuylar Croom Associated Performer, Guitar: Adam Tanbouz Associated Performer, Bass Guitar: Matt Williams Associated Performer, Drums: Jesse Shelley Producer, Studio Personnel, Recording Engineer: Mitchell Marlow Studio Personnel, Engineer: Matt Goldman Composer Lyricist: Schuylar Croom Composer Lyricist: Adam Tanbouz Auto-generated by YouTube.
You truly never know what direction a He Is Legend song is going to take. With the previously stated fact that they really do encompass so many different sub genres of rock or metal into one album seamlessly, it becomes impossible to know what to expect next. “The Interloper” is a perfect example of this. So far on the record we’ve had the heavy hitters, the slowed down singers, and now we have a hard rock/alternative metal track with hints of progressive that simply soars through the airwaves. I know I’ve already gushed about Croom’s astounding vocal abilities, but he really is one of the biggest reasons I (as I’m sure so many others) love this group. This track is a standout for Croom in the sense that he really flexes his singin’ chops even more than on any other song on White Bat. The song relies on its hushed tones paired with rhythmic yet uncommon drumming during its verses, then although the guitars pick up a bit during the chorus, the drumming becomes much more melodic. It’s a fun play on what usually goes the other way around. This has to be one of the most cohesive tracks on what is assuredly the groups most cohesive album.
He Is Legend have always had a knack for creative song titles, and it’s no different on White Bat. “Talking Stalker”, “Resister Resist Her”…and “Skin So Soft”. Clearly a play on the Avon skin cream, and yet it plays off in a much creepier way in this track. The intro to the song alone lends in this ghoulishness. Sinister and menacing guitars are matched with a dreadful sounding bass and drums. The song then flips on its own head during the verse and chorus sonically at least. It then becomes a bit more of a straight up hard rock song, although that’s not to take away from Croom’s incredibly creepy lyrics; ‘I’ve never seen skin so soft. I want it, can I have it, will you please take it off?’. The song is one of the more straight forward rock songs on the record. Palm muted verses with anthemic choruses, with a bridge that oozes that jump together/sing together sort of vibe right up until the end. The outro of the track slows its tempo down to a crawl and becomes increasingly sludgy. Heavy palm muting, hoarse and angry vocals and right when you think the track is done…BOOM! Literally every part of the band goes wiley as hell! The guitars, bass, and drums all kick into high octane and Croom lets out a scream that sounds like it bled the lining of his vocal cords while peeling wallpaper of the studio at the same time. He is Legend showing us all once again; expect the unexpected…because you won’t even expect that.
That’s kind of the name of the game for a group such as He Is Legend. Never repeat, and always reinvent while staying true to who they’ve always been as a band. The last thing anyone could ever say about a group such as them is they’ve become stagnant or redundant. Each track and each album shows us the creative juices not only flow wildly with this band but blow the goddamn lid off the bottle. With so many bands changing their sound in such a drastic manner these days, it’s actually phenomenal to see a group that’s been around as long as He Is Legend become something so new with each release, yet never stray to far away from their roots. White Bat shows the group at their most almighty and sounds as if the band as never been so in tune with one another. White Bat is an album that was made by a band as opposed to being strung together but a few individuals. The album will assuredly impress fans of ‘ol, but at the same time has a bit more accessibility to welcome a limitless number of new fans as well.