Holding back the winds,
One Word Review: Mammoth
Chaos reigns free on this second part of Saviour Machine's Legend project, also known as "The unofficial soundtrack for the end of the world".
There is little chance of the geniality of this album hitting you within the first 100 hours of listening time.
Dwell on that for a bit...
Saviour Machine have created something very special with Legend Part II.
This is an album that rewards an open mind, patience and an acquired musical taste. I'm sure you already have an idea if this is something for you.
Where Legend Part I was comparably easy to get into, Legend Part II is a cryptic amalgam of musical elements, where the listener is challenged to make sense of a chaotic attack on the aural senses.
Play back the CD on a good stereo system and the sound will show its potential. Play it back in the car and you will most likely be headed for a crash, literally. The album will bloom in the right surroundings. When it does the effect is astounding and you will suddenly find a musical landscape, where near-boundless exploration is possible. Layer upon layer upon layer can be found. The smallest hint of a melody or recurring theme will suddenly stand out. Through rich orchestration, spoken passages and dramatic singing, often all three at the same time, the album comes alive and starts to take hold.
For many years I have struggled to grasp the music. It was only a couple of years ago that I gave it yet another chance, sat down and studied the lyrics, listened closely to the music and felt the album start making sense. A certain order to the chaos appeared. I'm sure a minority will be as patient.
It doesn't make it easier that the lyrics in the booklet don't always fit with what is being said or sung and that the second song is only available on the single, Behold A Pale Horse.
Imagine being seated in a dark theatre, having the prophesied darkest chapter in the age of the world performed for you as a full blown opera and you will get an idea of what this music sounds like.
The opener, The Covenant, sets a doomsday atmosphere immediately. Layers of instrumentation and vocals gives the music a convoluted impression and it takes a while before melodies start to stand out. When they do you will wonder how you didn't hear them before. This pretty much goes for the entire album. I see this as a major asset since the album stays interesting, constantly surprises and has an air of mysterious impenetrable wonder to it.
Behold A Pale Horse is easily the song that stands out first. It has a drive and, dare I say it, a catchy melody that sticks instantly, in part due to the welcome guitar licks.
This being a concept album in the true sense of the word, all the songs are interconnected and usually you will not notice when one ends and another begins. Instead of a handful of standout songs you get a standout album. There are many peaks through its 79 minutes running time. One comes with the 10 minute The Promise, a complex and bombastic wonder, another with The Martyr's Cry just because I love the combination of Eric Clayton with a piano, another with The Bride of Christ because of its glorious melody and another as The Whore of Babylon suddenly comes together in a mesh of intricate detail. Just a few highlights out of many.
Keyboard and drums play a major role in the sound. They lead the melodies and set the rhythm respectively. The guitar used to do this but is sadly absent from much of the album. I miss the wonderful guitar playing and solos, which in great part defined the first Saviour Machine releases. The absence is however understandable after reading Eric Clayton's collective journal, which was released back in 2010.
Legend Part II avoids many of the trappings of being the second part of a trilogy. While Legend Part I is essential listening in order to enjoy it fully, Legend Part II stands on its own and delivers its chapter without treading waters, meanwhile transforming the atmosphere into something distinctly different than what came before. A new chapter, a new beginning.
If you want to experience an album that has no comparison then here it is. But be prepared to spend an obscene amount of time if you want to get the most from it. It is quite a beast.
Somber, dark, operatic. You will not find anything like it. I commend the band for taking this daring, uncompromising path.
I am one of the few, who still bear hope that one fine day, this trilogy will finally be completed. Sadly, Eric Clayton broke up the band and abandoned the project in 2014, so that is one dream that will most likely never come true. I will, however, never lose that last glimmer of hope.
Written By Steen
Online: Thursday, May 7, 2015