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Legend Cardinal Points album cover
3.69 | 107 ratings | 9 reviews | 19% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Carved in Stone (13:09)
2. Whisper on the Wind (14:42)
3. Spark to a Flame (13:57)
4. Drop in the Ocean (17:03)

Total Time: 58:51

Line-up / Musicians

- Kerry Parker / vocals
- Dave Foster / guitars
- Steve Paine / keyboards
- Dan Nelson / bass
- John Macklin / drums

The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Releases information

CD No Fish Productions ‎- NFCD3 (2011, Europe)

Thanks to progrockfreak for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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LEGEND Cardinal Points ratings distribution

(107 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(27%)
Good, but non-essential (29%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

LEGEND Cardinal Points reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars Full points!

15 years after their previous studio album and some 20 years after their debut comes Legend's fourth studio effort, Cardinal Points. I was very excited to hear the new album by this excellent band so I downloaded the album from iTunes even though I had already pre- ordered the CD months earlier. I didn't mind paying for this music twice at all as I am thereby supporting an outstanding and much overlooked band. The physical CD eventually landed on my doorstep yesterday, but I have already been listening to the contents of the album now for several weeks and there is no sign of me losing interest in this brilliant music. On the contrary, it keeps growing on me with each new listen. I am always very careful about awarding the masterpiece rating, but after many listens over some time I am confident that this album has the necessary staying power. This is a brilliant piece of work indeed!

Work on this album begun already in the years following the previous album (i.e. during the second half of the 90's), but for various reasons the band was put on hold and Cardinal Points was not finalized until this year. Despite the fact that the brilliant vocalist Debbie Chapman has been replaced by one Kerry Parker for this release, Cardinal Points has all the trademarks of the previous Legend albums. Yet, it also sounds different and fresh. You will find some new influences among the old ones and I'm certain that this album will appeal to both the old fans and those who are new to the band. Indeed, though I personally think that the band's previous album, Triple Aspect, is equally impressive, the present album probably has a wider appeal among Prog fans and is thus an excellent point of entry to investigate the band.

The Neo-Prog tag is perhaps even less appropriate here than concerning the previous three albums and the sound is less metallic and more symphonic. The clean, hard-edged guitar sound and the brilliant electronic keyboards of band leader Steve Paine are still very much the backbone of the band's sound, but the bass guitar gets more space this time around which I like a lot. John Macklin's drumming is perhaps slightly less driving than previously, but very competent indeed. The Folk influences are still here and there are three guests adding flute, didgeridoo and exotic percussion respectively. There is an almost New-Age/World-Music feel to some parts, which I love. But Legend transcends such genre categorizations as Neo-Prog, Heavy Metal, Prog Folk, etc. - they have a unique sound all of their own.

Legend's second album was called Second Sight, their third album was called Triple Aspect and now their fourth album is based on the four points of the compass and the four elements - earth, wind, fire and water. (One can only speculate about if the next album will be related to the number five?). Cardinal Points consists of only four tracks each representing an element and a point of the compass. The longest track runs to some 17 minutes and the shortest to 13, but the whole album runs like one long piece only interrupted by some very atmospheric nature sounds between the songs. The lyrics are suitably mystical and fits the music perfectly.

All four studio albums by Legend are excellent, but the two most recent ones are both worthy of the highest rating, in my opinion. For me, Cardinal Points might be the best album of the new millenium and it is very highly recommended!

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars To bear the name Legend, you must possess an uncanny sense of proud accomplishment, a vision of musical dedication and then, live up to the moniker. This British band certainly has followed the long, at times lonely road of surviving in a fickle uber- mediatized universe, starting out in 1988 with their first release "Light in Extension" in 1991 and slowly building a discography in hushed confidence. I started out discovering the band with Triple Aspect, stunned by the quality of the music (as per my radiant review) and thanks to leader/keyboardist Steve Paine, I have received their entire discography to enjoy and critique. Their latest volume of work has already garnered rave reviews here and elsewhere, mainly because it's a definite progression from those early heady days. As per the liner notes "Cardinal Points" explores the compass and the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water, the four unshakable cornerstones of Western mysticism. There are therefore 4 extended pieces that foliate each constituent. All the hallmark symphonics are here to behold, from delicate acoustic folk passages to storming crescendos, solidly humanified by powerful female vocals. Keyboardist Paine is no slouch on the ivories, weaving majestic mellotron torrents, aided and abetted by some swirling organ work as well as some shimmering synth solos. What makes Legend so different from other similar groups (Karnataka, Breathing Space, Panic Room, The Reasoning etc..) is they prefer a more Gothic, dare I say dark substance to envelop the audiophile, as if some ethereal spirit recoils in the shadows, just waiting to pounce. It's not a 'lah-di-dah' ride, in other words. The tone can be spooky such as on the magical, bass-led "Whisper on the Wind" a 14 minute epic piece that is the optimum example of their craft, a rambling expression where guitarist Dave Foster really gets to unleash some fiery licks, paralleled with some sizzling solos (fast and deadly!), tossing in mighty mood shifts and shrewd vocals, all combining to deliver a scintillating prog masterpiece, in my opinion. The nimble bass solo from Dan Nelson just forces me to kneel in numb respect. When they blast forward towards the end, it's like a relentless Hawkwind on steroids, insane synthesizers ablaze! Need to catch my breath after this spellbinding adventure! "Spark to the Flame" has a volcanic feel (listening to Magma, Steve?), spewing liquid fire vocalizations, drummer extraordinaire John Macklin bashing away with authority, remorseless rhythmic touch and go signatures (way too complex for a Neo label BTW!) , a third epic track in total opposition to the previous two exercises, showing a sense of exuberant exploration that is refreshing. The spacy mid-section is completely unexpected and a masterful stroke as Kerry Parker shows off a softer microphone stance, as the synths swoosh one moment and ping-pong the next in the harrowing background. The screaming guitar outro solo is truly amazing to boot! I need to retrieve my breath again, I am panting! The fourth epic is the massive 17 minute + "Drop in the Ocean" which starts out with a seductively gentle vocal within a squall of ringing synths and then morphs into a spiraling osmosis of rapid-fire everything (drums, piano and guits), exhibiting some lucid mastery of chops and unambiguous artistic energy. Kerry really has the lungs to evoke deep passions and exhibits here convincingly. The serene mid-section bravely espouses almost medieval tendencies, with sumptuous flute caressed by tender acoustic guitar, a contrast of lovely sounds and merging trumpet-synth symphonics that add bombast and poignant depth that is entirely congenial. The orchestral accent here remains purely on sonic beauty and on an "ocean of emotion", with a final coda to expire for. This is just legendary and worthy of their name. An effortless 5 prime peaks
Review by Conor Fynes
2 stars 'Cardinal Points' - Legend (4/10)

After a fifteen year wait between studio albums, any band's new output is going to meet some level of anticipation, regardless of how popular they were during their golden years. The UK melodic progressive act Legend has been out of the spotlight for quite some time, leaving listeners with a trilogy of records that earned them something of an underground fanbase. Coming back with promises of another great record to round off their saga, Legend returns with 'Cardinal Points', an album that continues their chronological album number concept by focusing the record around the number four; more specifically, the four primal elements.With an epic track devoted to earth, air, fire and water respectively, this feels like fairly standard prog rock canon. While Legend's ambition does not necessarily fail them here, the music on 'Cardinal Points' rarely feels as if it works well with the epic format, and coupled with a dated 80's sound and somewhat dry presentation, Legend gives a very mixed impression with their comeback record.

Although Legend is commonly given the rather dated label of 'neo-prog' to describe their music, the band certainly does have more going on to their sound than a single term would do justice to. Although very melodic in nature, Legend has a more longwinded approach to their music making, often making use of alot of folkish ambiance to get the point across. With each of these epics that Legend has crafted to represent the elements, there are fairly common sections where the music is kept slow and subtle. In some parts, this laid-back approach works very well. The opening minutes of 'Carved In Stone' are calming and mystical, keeping pretty mellow, yet keeping the sound dense with different soundscaping techniques and details that are often hidden deep within the mix. 'Drop In The Ocean' features some of the album's most heartfelt moments, using light acoustics and synthesizers to create a muddy dreamscape. While the mellow approach that Legend takes to many of these epics works well in small doses, it can make these so-called 'epics' into a fairly monotonous journey, especially considering that the more energetic segments of 'Cardinal Points' can be downright annoying.

Although Legend show their maturity through their attention to detail, the songwriting and composition itself really does not sit well with me. While each of these tracks are fairly lengthy (ranging from thirteen minutes to seventeen), they all have parts to them that are best described as 'choruses'; catchy sections that are repeated to death throughout the track. Unfortunately, these choruses are not only malfitting of an epic, they are downright irritating. The bouncy, synth-laden chorus of 'Spark To A Flame' feels like it is ripped straight out of a female-fronted 80's arena pop group. The vocals here also really tend to hurt the instrumentation and ambiance of the record. While vocalist Kerry Parker has a decent voice in parts, her singing often feels strained, especially when she tries to hit the higher notes. They result in fairly cringe-worthy moments where she warbles out of key, and while I am a fan of her full-sounding lower register, I can't say the same the higher.

Legend's 'Cardinal Points' is disappointing both for its rather uneventful compositions and the fact that the album came to me with the highest of recommendations. Along with a very muddy production job that tends to take away from the music even more, 'Cardinal Points' is washed away with the legions of other prog albums this year that have failed to grab my imagination. That being said, Legend does get points for ambition and a clever insight into detail and soundscaping, but it can be a tough sell when put in the context of the album's weaknesses.

Review by kev rowland
5 stars I'm not sure how long I have known Steve Paine, but it must be about 20 years. During that time our discussions on music have changed into something far greater, and in many ways I view him as a guide and he has been very important to my whole family during stressful periods of our lives. That friendship had stayed strong even after Legend has ceased to be, something that I viewed as a great musical loss. During their time together they had produced three wonderful albums, which musically were quite different to anything else that was around at the time ? symphonic prog rock with strong guitars that combined with soaring female vocals may not sound out of the ordinary now but back then it really was. Let's put some things into perspective, the first Nightwish album was released in 1996, the first Within Temptation was 1997, the first Legend album was 1991!

Their final album, 'Triple Aspect', was a tour de force and when I heard that they were going to go their separate ways I was extremely disappointed as here was a band that had become firm friends, and they had introduced me to other music such as Incubus Succubus (who I first saw supporting Legend at Oxford Stocks ? still one of my favourite all-time gigs), The Rattlers, Talis Kimberley and Mr So & So (all of whom Steve and live engineer Jon Moreau had produced). They were incredible in concert, and when they thanked me from the stage of Croydon Fairfield Halls it was all over, way too soon.

Fast forward too many years and Steve contacted me to let me know that he was going to be reforming the band and was writing music again. He had had a number of conversations with drummer John Macklin and original singer Kerry Parker (at this point Kerry was not even being considered as vocalist ? she is simply one of Steve's closest friends) and as John and Steve both really missed playing they gradually we worked out a way of possibly making it all happen. Work had commenced on 'Cardinal Points' before the band had called it a day, so now seemed the right time to start on it again even though they had no idea what was no going on in the prog scene The personnel changes were really down to both Paul Lamb and Debbie Chapman being committed to their careers, and Steve had lost touch with Paul Thomson so Dave Foster (of the So & So's) was the next logical choice. When Debbie was reluctant to get involved Kerry Parker was again the obvious choice as she'd been the original vocalist of the band in the embryonic stages. However Kerry's work commitments meant she couldn't step into the role, though she did start helping Steve to find a new vocalist and assisting me with the lyrics. Though once Kerry heard the demos and got into writing lyrics and a fortuitous change of employer she jumped at the chance. So even though the new version of the band has ended up without two significant members of the band, the new line up was also wonderful as it included people who been a part of the Legend family over the years. Kerry in particular as the she was the first person to sing many of Steve's songs ? such as 'Light in Extension', 'Windsong' and 'Evidence of Autumn'. The line-up was completed by bassist Dan Nelson and they roped in a few friends to help out on additional instruments such as Dave's wife Claire on flute.

So, four songs is what we get on the new album, ranging from just under 13 minutes to just over 17 minutes long. The sounds is instantly identifiable as Legend, with keyboards often taking the lead role but also room for plenty of guitars as well. Dave has fitted in well with the role of power foil to Steve, but given that they have been working together for so many years that isn't really surprising, and in Kerry they have a great singer ? given that she was the original singer for the band it probably isn't surprising that she has a similar style to Debbie, but she has added an extra element to the proceedings.

If anyone wants to listen to just a few minutes that sum up the album easily then the place to go is track three, and listen to the beginning of "Spark To A Flame" where there are wonderful harmony vocals, punchy music, power chords, drama and much much more.

This is easily one of the most powerful and inspiring progressive rock albums to come out for years ? one that those lucky enough to discover it are going to be playing time and time again. The band have been stunned by the reception to date and are planning the next album and hopefully some live dates as well ? now if they could come to NZ I would be a very happy man indeed.

Legend ? Cardinal Points. You owe it to your ears to get this.

Review by Modrigue
3 stars Any element you like

Fifteen years after their previous opus, LEGEND finally reunited and composed their fourth studio album, "Cardinal Points". Founder keyboardist Steve Paine and drummer John Macklin are the only original band members. The new vocalist Kerry Parker sings in a lower key than Debby Chapman. The style remains roughly the same as on the first three records, fantasy hard neo-prog. However, the music tends to be more polite, less heroic and lively than on "Triple Aspect".

"Cardinal Points" is a reference to the number four and thus continues the tradition of LEGEND's concept albums based on chronological record order. For this opus, the tracks name represent the four primary elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Furthermore, each song incorporate its corresponding sonorities.

The opening of "Carved in Stone" is quite mystical with a didgeridoo and bird sounds. Then the ambiance alternates between folk and hard prog, with flute and guitar. There is also some nice keyboards playing. "Whisper on the Wind" is softer, and even spacey by moments. Maybe the most calm composition of the record, with acoustic instruments and dreamy atmosphere. Featuring guitar and synthesizer solos, it sometimes reminds OZRIC TENTACLES by moments. Although the middle part is a bit too long, this piece is overall pleasant.

As you may expect, "Spark to a Flame" is more aggressive and punchy. Again, this piece contains cool guitar and keyboard interventions. The melody is quite epic and lyrical. The only problems are the dated 80's electronic sonorities. "Drop in the Ocean" is the longest track of the disc. With its futuristic ambient introduction, relaxing passages and various instruments, this song is also the most progressive. Orchestral keyboard sounds, acoustic guitar and flute playing by guest musician Claire Foster make the music liquid and fluid, which suits well the title. The ending is smooth but nonetheless average.

"Cardinal Points" contains some weaker and lengthy passages, as well as cheesy sonorities. Less oriented towards knights and heroic fairy tales, tending to more consensual neo-prog, the band manages however to keep their own musical identity of "pagan hard neo-prog". This fourth studio opus is a bit uneven, but overall pleasant. Recommended to neo-prog lovers and even to folk-prog fans if they're not afraid of 80's synthesizers.

This a just the beginning of LEGEND's second life...

Latest members reviews

5 stars Cardinal rules For me, this album was a real slow burn. I first came across it on the useful Progstreaming website and my initial impression was I could take it or leave it, but my partner said he liked it so I gave it another couple of listens and it grew on me. Truthfully it got completely ... (read more)

Report this review (#563175) | Posted by Lost Lorien | Saturday, November 5, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A carved-in-stone symphonic journey Carved in Stone - The album begins with a didgeridoo intro and some natural sounds. The female voice comes in shortly after. It sounds like an incantation. Very thrilling ! "Carved in stone / It's carved in stone"? A short silky keyboards cloth announces the up ... (read more)

Report this review (#496089) | Posted by The-time-is-now | Wednesday, August 3, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 dec ... (read more)

Report this review (#453801) | Posted by murgatroyd | Sunday, May 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Legend - back with a bang! It is approximately 15 years since UK progressive rock band legend delivered their stunning "Triple Aspect" album with it's blistering guitar solos, driving rhythms, catchy melodies and operatic female vocals. Now at last we have the follow up, "Cardinal Points" - ... (read more)

Report this review (#428324) | Posted by progrockfreak | Wednesday, April 6, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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