are beyond comprehension
In this hatred escalating
the fate is the same
Here we stand defiled to the brink
of our self-annihilation
We are vicious animals
in a game with no name"
One Word Review: Foreboding
Dubbed as "The unofficial soundtrack to the end of the world", the Legend project gives new meaning to the term concept album. This ultimate study of end-times Biblical prophecy was originally planned as a concept told through three separate releases, but the third part was never finished and here, 15 years down the road, it is still uncertain how this saga will end. Massacre Records took the liberty to release an unfinished demo version of the last part of the trilogy in 2011 and this was officially condemned by the band, who even made this unfinished version freely available for download. I have not listened to this and I am still hopeful that the Legend project will be finished one fine day, in the way the band had always imagined. Yes, I am a patient man.
For a "quick listen" I prefer the first two Saviour Machine albums where the focus was more on the individual songs, but Legend is something different altogether. Combined, Eric Clayton's voice, Jeff Clayton's guitar, Jayson Heart's drums, Charles Cooper's bass and Nathan Van Hala's piano and keyboards create music that is the embodiment of unique, it is impressively crafted and it is an experience beyond anything else out there. This music should have an endangered species act all of its own.
Saviour Machine is an acquired taste and "Legend - Part I" is not an easy listen. Though the concept is inspired by The Bible you do not have to be religious to enjoy the album.
Beauty and chaos both roam free in the music with often awe-inspiring beauty taking the lead in a constant battle of musical extremes. Sweeping, bombastic, challenging, breathtaking, grand and extraordinarily non-heinous are all words that describe the music. One moment your auditory meatus is caressed by piano, choirs and a soft voice, vibrating with emotion and the next, heavy guitar, booming drums and an agonized vocal delivery bring a sense of impending doom.
Compared to the first two releases "Legend - Part I" is less song oriented and more focused on bringing a complete aural experience. That it delivers this, is without question.
Songwriters Eric and Jeff Clayton continue the evolution of the first two albums and head in an even more theatrical direction this time. The album has a very connected feel, with themes and passages being referenced and explored through different songs.
The album covers an amazing broad spectrum. From its opening positive splendor, through to its dark, crushing ending, it is a journey that can be looked back on with surprised wonder of how things slowly but surely manage to switch from one extreme atmosphere to another.
I find the album mesmerizing. Even 10+ years after my initial discovery, the album is fresh and explorable and actually keeps on growing. The sign of a classic.
The first many listens can be frustrating, but give the album time and each song will begin to stand out. The Overture that opens the show, brings an ominous atmosphere instantly and then gives way to a grand, sweeping score that would suit a movie. The continuing 4 songs flow together and open the album in the boldest and most majestic way possible. The way each song rises in momentum is something to behold. Legend I: I uses layered vocals in a way that adds an extra atmospheric dimension and when it finally bursts open the feeling is overwhelming. A totally brilliant and fitting way to open a suite of such stature.
Moving on with a foreboding atmosphere The Eyes of the Storm has a beginning where I want the soothing interplay between bass and guitar to go on forever. Instead the song successfully builds momentum and intensity for The Birth Pangs, where the heavy guitar does a lovely job of raising it even further.
Through the album the songs have a tendency to up the intensity and chaotic nature of the music further and further. It works extremely well and makes listening to the album feel like a journey. Reflecting on the songs, they feel very thought through and impressively well written.
The few breathers the album has are welcome moments.
The Woman opens with one of these. The combination of Eric Clayton's voice and piano always creates something special. Here the piano allures and hints at the powerful sections that appear several times through the song. Pure and powerful.
The Night has one of my favorite passages of the album. A section that is sung with a tremendous feeling of sadness and showcases Eric Clayton's unique voice.
Behold the place of slaughter
The earth is a tomb
The smell of death upon her
The child has torn the womb
A Middle Eastern feeling roams free in several songs and gives the album a slight oriental flavor. Gog: Kings of the North opens with an uncomfortable atmosphere that took a while to understand. In fact it took several years before I warmed to the song. Amazingly it rises and evolves through its 8 minutes into something spectacular.
The Invasion of Israel uses distortion to add to the chaotic, war-like atmosphere that reigns in the song. It took a while to get used to this as well, but it works effectively. One interesting thing to note is how the guitar seems to rise and rise, constantly growing more urgent and powerful.
Darkness reigns through the last part of the album where a tremendous tension is built for the next chapter. It is the perfect ending, with Ten - The Empire and Antichrist I being especially chilling.
"Legend - Part I" should be savored and enjoyed by anyone with an open mind and a thirst for musical challenge. It is not often an album such as this comes along and I am unable to justifiably compare it to anything else I have ever heard. It truly is a rarity and one that can be explored for years before reaping all its rewards.
On its own the album is a genius and original piece of art. As a whole the Legend project seems destined to be hailed as a modern musical masterpiece and I anxiously await its conclusion.
Meanwhile, chaos was about to erupt…
Written By Steen
Online: Monday, July 16, 2012