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Legend - Spirit CD (album) cover





4.02 | 109 ratings

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5 stars Legend is a band in constant progression, defining their unique sound with every release. I really enjoyed Cardinal Points, one of the finest prog discs in my special collection. With 'Spirit', the band has returned with an effort that once again challenges the listener to new heights of appreciation. I immediately noticed a few personnel changes with bassist Dan Nelson, Mr. So & So guitarist Dave Foster and Kerry Parker being replaced by the returning maestro Paul Thomson and new lung Beck Sian, who has a hurricane of a voice and owner of a solid solo career in the UK, 'imagine a very acoustic Kate Bush meets Loreena McKennitt with just a hint of Bjork / Tori Amos'. As you know, I am a sucker for female vocals, currently in love with Resonaxis' Brooke Shelley, so keeping the Legend tradition was a blessing with the introduction of such an amazing voice. '..Good show!

Well, 'Leap of Faith' is just that, my goodness, their sound has definitely evolved into edgier contrasts between the sonic extremes, though a harder edge is matter of opinion as Paul is just as explosive an axe man as before but Macklin's drumming is really heavier than ever, propelling at breakneck speed. I really love the choir work, giving it an almost Zeuhl tinge, recalling Magma or Italians Universal Totem Orchestra. Zippy synths are really cool and Steve Paine handles the bass too with sterling solidity. The chorus is a memorable addiction, a sensational track, by all accounts.

'Wood of Trees' has some dazzling synth/guitar/bass/drum tightness, brash aura of the typical Legend sound which I like to refer to as 'druid-prog' , I hope you do not mind, I don't like labels too much but this one is a propos. Paul rips off some tortured solos, sounding at times like buzz saw, the man is impressive indeed! Love this track, dramatic, bombastic and enthralling! One thing I noticed is how in tuned Paine is with Thomson, paralleling notes from the warm synths with his guitar licks. To quote Steve Paine: 'Paul and I have always worked very well together, not just musically but in other areas as well. When I initially formed LEGEND back 1988 ' yup we're 25 years old ' we discovered that our lead styles instinctively blended, plus I feel Paul has a better ear for other instruments than many Guitarists, which means that we can share the foil of the sound with tones that complement one another, rather than it ending up a fight between Guitars and Keys for prominence'. Stunning saturated Hammond organ and highly effected guitar buzzes stuff this amazing track!

The 18 minute monster 'A Tangled Skein' starts out with sheer loveliness, dexterous guitar, slippery synth, booming bass and Beck's theatrical voice, she certainly has different tinges to her tone. Here she sounds tougher, manlier and perhaps even Wagnerian in a way. One has the impression that the wind of Valhalla is blowing hard and fast. Five minutes in, Beck does her Kate Bush performance, screeching higher than the celestial arrow can reach, the harsh heavy metal drumming (double bass) is cataclysmic. The Magma tendency is there again, dense choirs and Orff-ian gusto! Obviously Paul enters the fray with subtlety and restraint, just waiting to explode into a fireball of sparkling riffs, the synthesizers creating nasty sounds verging on the gruesome. There are even times when the organ has an Ange- like spectral howl, dark, menacing and brooding. Have you been listening to French prog lately, Steve? The chanting style again refers back to the Legend druid style, 'To recreate the ritual / primal atmosphere of Tribal / Pagan Ceremony' very apparent in the closing chapter, giving one a sense of stunned hypnosis (just like the numbness following a classic Hawkwind concert).

'Crossing the Ways' is the proprietor of the one thing I adore the most about music , a simple bass-driven melody that strikes at the soul and delivers a myriad of sensations and spirits. Throw in a beautiful vocal and the enchantment begins, within a lush and desperate chorus to die for. This is not only my favorite song on the album but perhaps within the Legend catalogue. I would go so far as to state that it is a prog-ballad for the ages, as delightful as the Windmill's recent 'Not Alone' masterpiece. If this does not achieve international fame, the world is truly the unjust entity it brashly claims not to be! The suave guitar lines are sumptuous reminders that gorgeous music will always inspire the deepest emotions. Beck's delivery is simply stellar, urgent and eternal. What a song, phew! My knees are still shaking and my jaw just rolled under the desk, lying smiling between Internet and TV cables!

'State of Grace' welcomes the ornate beauty of the piano, gentle yet forceful as only it can generate the true essence of harmony and grace. The structure is pretty upfront and vocally dynamic, loaded with mounds of synthesized orchestrations, celestial choirs, tubular bells, a crunchy guitar attack and robotic drumming. Sian's voice again seeks to crown the arrangement with some high-pitched magic and she does so with convincing authority, hitting those impossibly high notes with deadly accuracy.

A vibrant, thunderous and highly evocative release that should create quite a buzz in the prog community. Steve Paine is to be commended for his artistic vision and his ongoing commitment to creating authentic progressive masterpieces. The artwork is again top- notch, full of mystic gleam and spectral shine.

5 life-forces

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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