Legend – Spirit
Rating: 3 / 5
I admit that Legend is a new name to me. However, these UK prog rockers have been around for a while. Keyboardist / band leader Steve Pain founded the band back in 1988, and Spirit is their fifth album. With that experience comes the layered, complex sound that Legend have honed during their career (except during their 13-year hiatus). Varied guitarwork, dynamic drumming, and a colorful palette of keyboards / synths swirl in winding, labyrinthine song structures. Singer Beck Sian swoops from bewitching lows to piercing highs as she sings. Quite often she’s accompanied by a massive-sounding (and non-classical) choir that amps up the bombast even more. Yes, you’re going to hear myriad sounds on Spirit: organs, acoustic and electric guitars, percussion, sitars, ambient keys, cosmic blips and bleeps – and that’s just to start! Apparently the lyrics have a pagan slant, but apart from “Wood For The Trees” the themes are universal enough for all listeners to relate to.
All this sounds like a recipe for great prog music – but Spirit hasn’t really grown on me since I bought it. A huge reason is that there’s almost too going on in Legend’s music. They’re like a prog rock version of Blind Guardian: The melodies and musical elements compete against each other, making it hard for the listener to concentrate on a song without getting overwhelmed. Also, I prefer Beck’s low- / mid-range vocals to her high notes. Her lower register’s got a spellbinding quality that draws you in. But her higher register peaks so high, it makes me cringe. There are some lovely songs on Spirit, though. “Crossing Of The Ways” entrances with its mix of ethereal soundscapes and tribal percussion; and “A Tangled Skein” and “State Of Grace” have some cool moments (especially the Native American / doom-laced outro of the former, and Beck’s a capella harmonies on the latter). Unfortunately, that’s not enough to percolate my lukewarm feelings into stronger enthusiasm.
If you’re a fan of prog bands like Rush, Renaissance, and Marillion or female vocalists like Kate Bush and Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel, you might like Legend’s Spirit. Just because I think it’s only OK doesn’t mean that other people won’t like it more.
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Coming Soon: Just a few hundred words away from 40,000 on my novel-in-progress! I hope to make enough progress to get a new “Chronicling The Craft” online in the next couple weeks.