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Legend - Cardinal Points CD (album) cover





3.79 | 102 ratings

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5 stars A True Epic!

I am one of the many it seems who have dismissed Legend and it seems for no real reason, but having read South Side of the Sky's review of Cardinal Points and indeed the praise here for the band's earlier albums I decided to risk getting a copy of Cardinal Points on iTunes and boy what an absolute treat!

This album is the embodiment of epic Prog at its best. Legend don't sound quite like any other of the current Prog Bands blending a lot of different influences from Classic Rock through Folk through World and even New Age textures are woven into Cardinal Points. The foundation is solid rock with punchy and precise overdriven guitars meshed with astutely crafted keyboards and very fluid, lyrical bass lines driven by authoritative drums and all topped off with emotively powerful vocals and the result is truly more than the sum of its parts!

There are only four tracks on this album but they are all epics, there's no filler here, once you hit play you are on a journey... the first track Carved in Stone surprised me at first as slightly eerie birdsong gives way to Didgeridoo and ethnic percussion which gives a Dead can Dance feel to the album and Kerry Parker's rich earthy vocal tones start to weave a mesmerising spell until the whole band launches in and the sound of the album is established ? the song progresses, constantly building sounding very Tull like in the middle twisting to be almost Nightwish like by its conclusion. Sonically it is reminiscent of classic Prog, screaming organs and roaring Mellotrons to the fore!

Whisper on the Wind is heralded by the sound of howling wind before a hypnotic Bass pattern launches into a riff based verse that is reminiscent of west coast psychedelia, even the voice reminds me a little of Grace Slick at times. This song has a very melodic, even catchy, if I dare use the word, verse and chorus. Then comes the middle section which becomes almost Floydian with its ethereal keyboards and sparse bass and drums which provides a beautiful foil for Dave Foster's stunning guitar break starting with Gilmour style acoustic but moving up through the gears till his electric lead is singing out with a passion that equals any of the best players currently out there. As the solo dies away the verse and chorus return with a heavier edge that drives the song further upwards until once again we drop back into the ethereal this time it is the turn of Bassist Dan Nelson to come to the fore with a jazz fusion tinged break that pushes the song into another dimension and as the bass builds to its own coda the blistering keys of Steve Paine take over as the band drive relentlessly on in Hawkwind-esque frenzy.

Thunder, lightning and roaring flames leads us to Spark to a Flame, which is almost gothic with its powerful choral / chant intro, Therion were brought to mind here. Layers of voices punching through a suitably weighty backing. The angular verses bridging to a wonderfully melodic chorus that is the equal of many a rock anthem. This song writhes in many directions before building to a massive choral crescendo. But wait it isn't over yet... subtle keyboard textures with a beautiful almost church like vocal section that magically morphs into a mysterious electro-trance rhythm and Latin lyrics chanted out reminiscent of the opening bars of the Carmina Burana build back into the epic chorus which in turn gives way to a joyous final guitar break.

Rumbling thunder gives way to falling rain and the journey continues into the longest and possibly the most subtle song. Drop in the Ocean starts with echoing guitar and keys while Parker's vocals come into their own. The first section gives way to a rapid fire Drum and Piano workout very reminiscent of Renaissance in fact this track as a whole echoes that classic ensemble as it moves into more vocal sections each slowing in pace until we are left with the sound of trickling water and a beautifully simple acoustic guitar and flute passage that hints of early Genesis before Enya like keys and voice take over the reins and the song comes to an atmospheric lull. Strings and brass herald the conclusion which builds in gloriously anthemic style the whole band obviously in their element as they conclude this album with great aplomb! The final notes fading away into rolling waves crashing against the shore. The whole effect is utterly breathtaking.

Am I passionate about this album, yes I am! And I make no apology. In fact this album has given me the spur to write my first contribution on this site. I fail to understand why this band has yet to be taken to the hearts of the Prog community and can only hope that Cardinal Points gives them the recognition they truly deserve!

murgatroyd | 5/5 |


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