Neo-Prog • United Kingdom

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Legend biography
LEGEND are a great neo/symph-prog band from Britain, driven by the keyboardist's Tony Banks-ish leads in tandem with straight-up metal grooves from the guitarist. This English four-piece band has been together since the late Eighties, making them one of the longest-lived pagan bands around. This band plays rock influenced by folk and classical elements, and prefers complex, epic song structures. All in all though it is an album well worth listening to, although I would advise starting with "Triple Aspect" first for the true taste of LEGEND at their best.

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LEGEND shows & tickets

  • Kinetik Festival 7.0 on 22 May 2014 - CANCELLED
  • Blackfield Festival 2014 on 20 Jun 2014
  • Infest 2014 on 22 Aug 2014
  • Electronic Summer 2014 on 29 Aug 2014

LEGEND discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

LEGEND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.96 | 10 ratings
Light In Extension
3.43 | 17 ratings
Second Sight
3.67 | 14 ratings
Triple Aspect
3.81 | 98 ratings
Cardinal Points
4.03 | 58 ratings

LEGEND Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.41 | 4 ratings
Playing With Fire

LEGEND Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

LEGEND Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Ritual Echo

LEGEND Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

LEGEND Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Triple Aspect by LEGEND album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.67 | 14 ratings

Triple Aspect
Legend Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars ''Second Sight'' was the most succesful among the 90's albums of Legend regarding its sales and in 1994 the band's label Pagan Media organized a tour for the band along with label mates Inkubus Sukkubus.The following year Legend focused on writing material for a third album.They were as tight and confident as ever and the ideas came naturally, even if bassist Paul Thomson had to play both the bass and the guitars after the departure of bassist Martin Rouski.''Triple aspect'' eventually sees the light in 1996.

This confidence of the band resulted to ambitious and bombastic compositions, among them the 5-part title track was clocking at almost half an hour (!), showing that Steve Paine had become incredibly comfortable with the composing of long tracks.Soundwise this was definitely the most mature work of the first period of Legend, offering rich, powerful and intricate compositions in a style, which reaches as closer as it gets a genuine Epic Progressive Rock, borrowing elements from Neo Prog, Folk Rock and Heavy Rock.The shorter tracks contain plenty of fiery rhythms to go along with a very OLDFIELD-ian atmosphere, combining the sharp edges of early-80's British Prog Rock with the folkier yet cinematic touches of MIKE OLDFIELD's music and the result is a mix of pounding electric guitars, symphonic keyboards and Medieval-styled female singing.The 12-min. long ''Lyonesse'' points to a folkier direction, but Legend were never predictable.The music is close to the style of ARRAKEEN, delivering a bombastic Progressive Rock, swirling between dreamy vocal sections, Neo-styled nervous synth soloing, mascular electric guitar leads and a marching rhythm section.Some folky melodies are still apparent, but the dynamics in here are on a very high level.Fast-paced and very tight music.The extended title-track is the very best reason to call Legend an Epic Prog Rock band.The love of Paine for Classic Prog Rock comes particularly in evidence in this piece, which contains some of Legend's most complex time signatures and powerful breaks without the band losing for a second its own identity.A pompous combination of raw Neo Prog, Classic-styled Symphonic Rock and Heavy/Power Rock with constant use of keyboards, fantastic female vocals and Thomson's mature guitar work, both on his melodic solos or his flaming riffing.

If you ever get one album from Legend's early years, this is propably the one.Very different from any other group, this is passionate and highly energetic Progressive Rock played with originality despite the obvious references to monster bands of the past.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.


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 Spirit by LEGEND album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 58 ratings

Legend Neo-Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Math Rock Team

4 stars Legend is a band that sounds like nothing else out there. Seriously. I can't think of even one band. They've been making music for over 20 years now, and they are still relevant. That is something that most bands cannot boast, especially neo-prog bands. Therefore, Legend's new album "Spirit" is great experience through and through.

Where to start? Well, Legend are a female-fronted prog rock band. Beck Sian, the vocalist, has a beautiful voice that borders on theatrical, but she never gets pretentiously long- winded. In fact, she has a huge range, and has a sweet spot for beautiful, melodious sustains. I quite love her voice.

The music side of things is equally interesting. This album features plenty of choir arrangements. This really challenged me for some reason, even though I generally love choirs. However, it just seemed new in an environment of spacey synth solos, organs, and thundering, hard-edged guitar lines. Indeed, Legend is a bit of an anomaly. Somehow, they play a rather technical form of neo-prog with blistering guitar lines and solos, blast beats, and wild organ passages; but they never feel "heavy". Yes, this album is lush and feels very "full". The keys only add to the effect with their variety and their spaciness. They create atmosphere for the choirs at times, and other times they really lead the music effortlessly.

Every single track here has special moments and wonderfully catchy choruses. "Leap of Faith" is a long opener that has a gorgeous ascending chorus and simply awesome instrumental passages. Beck amazes me time and again, though, with her awesome range. "Wood for the Trees" showcases this with some very low vocal passages that she pulls off easily. I think, however, my favorite track is "Crossing of the Ways". The keys are ghostly and almost foreboding, and the slow pace is just perfect. Beck sings alone on this one, and I feel that she expresses her vulnerability and emotion so masterfully. To end it off, there is an awesome guitar solo that simply wows.

Legend have really crafted a humdinger here. Yes, I just used that word. It's the kind of music that forces you to stop and pay attention, as it is unique and extremely pleasing. "Spirit" has a nice balance of just about everything, and I feel that this is the sign of true masters of their craft.


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 Spirit by LEGEND album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 58 ratings

Legend Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars I probably need to put some sort of disclaimer at the top of this review, as I have been involved with these guys one way or another for some twenty years now, and keyboard player/composer/band leader Steve Paine is one of my closest friends from the music scene. A few months ago he sent me a mix of this album and asked me for my views and opinions before he undertook the final mix as he was looking for a fresh set of ears. Listening to the album for pure production as opposed to trying to formulate ideas on the music was an interesting challenge, but I played my part as best as I could, and in the fullness of time the final product arrived and this time I could listen to it as it was intended.

When the band reformed for 'Cardinal Points' it was quite a different line-up from the one that recorded 1996's 'Triple Aspect' (well it was fifteen years between the two). Steve Paine was there of course, as was drummer John Macklin who had been involved since 'Second Sight', but original singer Kerry Parker (who left the band before they recorded their debut 'Light In Extension' in 1991) had returned instead of Debbie Chapman, and there was a new bassist in Dan Nelson and new guitarist in Dave Foster. Dave of course is guitarist with Mr So & So, a band that was originally signed to Steve's Pagan Media label. Well, that was 2011, and now here we are in 2013 with more changes, which actually makes the band more like the original. Anyone who has ever seen Legend in concert, or has seen the cover of 'Playing With Fire', will know that while Dave is one of the most incredible guitarists you will ever find (I have a memory of him holding a conversation with John Wetton's manager while playing an incredible solo at the same time) the one person who should be there is the original metal god himself, Paul Thomson. And he's back. His interplay with Steve and connection only comes about from many hours spent sharing the same stage, and many years sharing the same musical dream so it is great that he is onboard once again. Then, we also now have a new singer in Beck Sian (who apparently is Kate Bush's cousin). Apart from having extremely positive impact of reducing the average age of the band, she has also brought with her a new depth and vitality as she not only has a powerful voice, but an incredible range. Although she often reaches into soprano, she also has a firm control of alto so while at times she comes across as a mix of Debbie, Talis Kimberley and Anna Ryder she also belts it out in the lower registers. Macca is back again, while Steve provides bass as well as keys.

So what of the album? I have seen a few reviews of this album that have stated that in many ways this is a logical progression from 'Cardinal Points', but I'm not sure that I agree with them. In many ways this feels to me that it has much more in common with the earlier period, especially 'LIE', but taken to a whole new level. It is more complex, more layered, with Paul relishing the opportunity to yet again provide crunching riffs that take the music further. Although they are definitely more progressive than symphonic, these guys use Paul's heaviness to move them more into that arena while multi-tracked vocals also provides additional edge. Macca shows no sign at all of the RSI that he has been suffering, and is never content to sit on a 4/4 beat but instead really works the kit, providing a level of intensity that the rest of the band have to lift themselves to match. He can often be found matching the complex arrangements note for note, emphasising the melody. Steve is, well, Steve. His songs and arrangements are distinctive, they just couldn't be by anyone else. One of my favourite songs is "The Wild Hunt" from 'Second Sight', and there is quite a lot on this album that reminds me of that approach, and that can only be a great thing in my book.

So after saying all that about the music, it would not be the same without a great singer at the front and in Beck they have a real find. She can be clear and fine, she can be powerful, she can throw her voice around as if it is another instrument, be contrary to the melody or absolutely bang on. She is an incredible talent, and the combination of her vocal style, wonderful songs, and great musicianship, has made this a more than worthy addition to Legend's canon. In fact, it may well be their finest hour. But I will have to live with it for a few more years yet before I can confirm that.

This is an album of incredible depth and passion, and the five songs (the album is just over an hour long) pass by far too quickly. A real triumph. www.stevepaine.org


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 Spirit by LEGEND album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 58 ratings

Legend Neo-Prog

Review by emperorken

3 stars Having really liked their album "Cardinal Points" from 2011, I was really interested to hear what the band had come up with on their new album, "Spirit". Now, after listening several times, I must say that musically it is quite good. The compositions are strong(although not as strong as Cardinal Points), the arrangements are well done, and the playing is top notch. The music here, as it does on "Cardinal Points", has a somewhat dark feel to it.

The biggest difference(and drawback) to this new album is the vocals. The previous vocalists, Debbie Chapman and Kerry Parker, both had perfect voices for Legend's style of neo prog. The new vocalist, Beck Sian, has a huge range and sounds great in the lower ranges. But at times when she sings in the high ranges, her voice sounds like chalk on a blackboard to me.

Still, a pretty good album worthy of 4 stars for the music, and 3 stars overall.


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 Spirit by LEGEND album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 58 ratings

Legend Neo-Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

5 stars "Oh it is a tangled skein that we do weave"

Legend has done it once again! Coinciding with band's 25th anniversary, they here return with yet another brilliant album in Spirit. I had the great honour to get a copy straight from the band in advance of the official release date and the music of Spirit has been playing frequently in my headphones and speakers since I received it. Another Legend masterpiece revealed itself and the five tracks of Spirit are nothing short of stunning!

One thing to note is the change in the vocal department. Kerry Parker, who replaced the original voice of Debbie Chapman for the previous Cardinal Points, is here replaced by Beck Sian. It is remarkable both how well the band has lived through (and gained from) every one of these changes and also how fantastic all three singers are in their own right. Most bands are not so lucky as to find one great vocalist, but Legend has found no less than three. Sian has an amazing voice that fits the music of Legend hand in glove. She has a distinctive voice and an identity all of her own, yet at the same time she sounds similar enough to previous Legend vocalists to carry on the legacy with grace. It would be very exciting to hear how she handles the older material.

Another line-up change consists in the return of original guitarist Paul Thomson who was absent from Cardinal Points. Drummer John Macklin and keyboard player Steve Paine remain stable (with the latter also producing and engineering the album). The musicianship is excellent throughout with dense layers of various keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums and percussion, lead vocals, and dramatic choirs. The hour long album is bursting with creativity and there isn't a dull second on the disc. The style is Legend's own and will clearly be recognized by anyone who is familiar with the band's previous efforts. But Spirit is more than a mere continuation of earlier albums, it sees the band evolving towards ever greater heights.

The mood is dark yet optimistic which is nicely captured in visual form in the great art work credited to Josephine Wall. The world depicted on the sleeve has many dimensions just like the music of Spirit. The clever lyrics are of equally high quality and revolve around a theme of "spiritual" and existential matters like "finding ones true path" in life (at least that's one interpretation; great lyrics always leave room for interpretation).

If you appreciate Legend's earlier albums, do by no means miss out on this one. If you don't yet know this unfairly overlooked band, take a "leap of faith" and acquire Spirit. (And then, if you're anything like me, you're inevitably going to want to get all of the band's other albums as well--all five of them are excellent additions.)

Very highly recommended!


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 Spirit by LEGEND album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.03 | 58 ratings

Legend Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

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


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 Triple Aspect by LEGEND album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.67 | 14 ratings

Triple Aspect
Legend Neo-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars In principle, the idea of a fusion of neopagan folk music and Pendragon-inspired neo-prog (with a touch of Genesis and early Marillion here and there) sounds really good to me. Unfortunately, I find the execution as offered by Legend on Triple Aspect to lack something. Perhaps it's the lyrics, which are just as shallow, unimaginative and preachy as the more tiresome sort of Christian rock lyrics tend to be, or perhaps it's their delivery - vocalist Debbie Chapman has a decent but not exceptional singing voice which isn't helped by the somewhat muddled mix. Or possibly its a more general problem - the neo-prog-by-numbers musical backing, for instance, or the rather mediocre production job the album has. Either way, it just doesn't wow me - certainly not to the extent that I'm prepared to proclaim it an overlooked classic of the genre.


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 Light In Extension  by LEGEND album cover Studio Album, 1991
2.96 | 10 ratings

Light In Extension
Legend Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars UK act Legend came from Runcorn, Cheshire, starting their career in 1988 under the force of keyboardist Steve Paine.Initially the band performed as a six-piece outfit with Kerry Parker and Debbie Chapman on vocals, Steve Paine on keyboards, Paul Thomson on guitars, Shaun Gallagher on bass and Chris Haskayne on drums.Struggling to find their way on the local music scene, Legend had also to battle with the departure of Parker and later of Gallagher.Moving on as a five-piece and eventually finding the bass player in the face of Ian Lees, Legend recorded their debut ''Light in Extension'' in 1991 for Pagan Records.

Fronted by a trully gifted female vocalist and characterized by their explosive and fiery style, Legend played somekind of Celtic Rock with MIKE OLDFIELF-like references, apparently bringing to mind most well-known bands like IONA, KARNATAKA or MOSTLY AUTUMN.Their sound was largely based on manic, powerful grooves with a dual collaboration between strong guitar drives and flashy synthesizers, supported by a huge and steady rhythm section, managing to produced a dramatic, epic but also trully enjoyable atmosphere.The reason for their Celtic-sounding themes comes through Debbie Chapman's crystalline and dreamy voice, the use of atmospheric synthesizers and the folkish tunes on the choruses.Legend produced highly memorable tunes with some catchy but always artistic musicianship overall with no desire for complex themes but a lust for playing music from the heart.The longer cuts contain though some nice instrumental parts with light PINK FLOYD inspirations on the guitar solos and a couple of good organ jams.

Satisfying, dynamic Celtic-influenced Art Rock by Legend on this first album, easily recommended for fans of the style.Yet I can see even metal fans praising this release.If you are into this kind of contemporary rock music, ''Light in Extension'' can only offer moments of delight to your ears.Warmly recommended.


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 Cardinal Points by LEGEND album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.81 | 98 ratings

Cardinal Points
Legend Neo-Prog

Review by Lost Lorien

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 under my skin to the extent that I now feel it is possibly the best of album of 2011 if not the album of the decade so far, and I hope it isn't a decade before this band grace us with more.

Legend's sound is definitely unique ? though not in an 'in your face', stand out way, but rather as a cunning blend of subtle surprises worked into the overall rock sound. A couple of the reviews I've read have described the production as dull or muddy, which I don't understand, the sound has been layered with the skill of a landscape artist building textures that go beyond the instruments without sounding contrived or overtly synthetic. Indeed organic would be my description for the sound overall. Legend seem to draw on a broad palette of influences. I will refrain from a long list of bands here, because there are plenty of comparisons elsewhere and looking at comparisons really won't give a meaningful insight. Better to move straight to the heart of the album and the only thing that matters, the music:

The album opens with Carved in Stone, an opener laden with menace, even the birdsong is sinister. The first instrument is Didgeridoo, which gives a pulse to which ethnic percussion and 'Gabriel-esque' drones are added before Kerry Parker's earthy yet ethereal tones are added. I must confess I prefer male vocals as a rule but, Parker is one of the few exceptions. The lyrics weave their spell as the sound builds in tension until we get our first taste of the full band in a call and response chorus, beautifully embellished with flute and guitar licks from Clare and Dave Foster respectively. Any thoughts that Legend might be 'airy fairy new age' are firmly dismissed as the band continues to show its harder edge. This section gives way to a much weightier second part; Organ and punchy guitars drive the band onwards into a hypnotic primal pulse, a heartbeat of the earth, built on pulsing drums with floating vocals which then twists into a medieval interlude before sidestepping into a whimsical folk flute solo then turning it all on its head once more. A monumental link passage moves us into the next twist in the song. A sparse backing that is pure rock, and perhaps even a hint of blues to these ears, gives some space for Parker's voice to move 'mountains and to mark the arc of time'. The track concludes with organ and guitar trading licks as the rhythm section pushes the song to a rock solid conclusion.

Whisper on the Wind is introduced by Dan Nelson's space rock inspired bass riff against the background of singing wind, shortly followed by the full band, who take up the riff and a close harmony lead vocal completes the picture. After the melodic verses and choruses the song breaks down into a deliciously alluring ambience that chills like an eerie wind, heavy with suspense. What comes next is unexpected; a Spanish guitar lead emerges fluttering on the senses, teasing one's thoughts until it gives way to a Floyd-esque electric lead, pure and flute like. This in turn evolves into a positively frenzied display of guitar pyrotechnics, building to a crescendo. The return of the wind and the elegant bass riff and we're off again! The verse returns though with a much harder edge and after a joyous final chorus the song breaks down once more into swirling textures and a bass guitar feature adds a flavour of jazz fusion to the mix. Nelson's dexterity and lyrical style really shines here giving an already well crafted song a new twist. The bass deftly introduces a keyboard break by Steve Paine which trills up and down eastern scales like eddies in a storm, while the band goes into all out rock mode reminding me of Hawkwind. The swirling keyboards soar and spin and echo around bringing this song to a breathless ending.

Rolling thunderclaps lead to Spark to a Flame as Parker's voice, initially accapella, takes the driving seat. A chanting gothic choir fills the air as the band drive an insistent beat. The verses twist and turn like the flickering flames they represent and the chorus melody will burn its way into your heart and soul with its layers of harmony. Parker truly is the mistress of all she surveys in this song. A beautifully executed, if slightly predictable, middle section leads us to another fine example of Paine's keyboard skills as a sinewy almost talking sound flows in and out between your ears, expanding to fill your brain before slithering away like a serpent. Then a refrain of the powerful choral chant that pumps us into a definitive, slightly tongue in cheek orchestral climax. Then like the floors giving way in a burning building the listener is left floating as, like the glow of embers, a tantalisingly subtle texture introduces a completely new direction to the piece. Parker's voice at its most angelic articulates a hymn like vocal that weaves a calming moment into the proceedings before more menacing undertones begin to bubble up from beneath. Monk like chanting leads us towards Parker's insistent whisper spitting a Latin incantation that builds and builds as if bringing forth a presence from the beyond. Then the chanting choir returns in full force. After a refrain of the chorus that leaves me breathless each and every time, there is a momentary pause to draw breath before Foster leaps to centre stage assaulting the senses with flurries of notes as if they were sparks flying in all directions. A final bombastic refrain of the chant brings the song to a triumphant close. This song really demonstrates Legend's power, balancing neatly on the fence between Prog Rock and Prog Metal. Falling rain dowses the embers as the fourth and final song Drop in the Ocean leads us into a more introspective side of the band. Echoing guitars and keys fade in through the gurgling water and subtle percussion sets the stage once more for Parker to mesmerise us with her poetry. A snap of a snare and the song changes gear. Here John Macklin gets an opportunity to step into the limelight, as guitar, bass and piano conjure up a maelstrom of syncopation, he delivers us filigrees of deft jazz like fills blended with full metal tub thumping that amply displays his technical and dynamic prowess. Macklin's drumming throughout the album is excellent as it blends the dynamic and drive of each song gluing the pieces together without being overly flamboyant nor becoming repetitive and dull. A rippling piano run launches us into a pacey, open sounding vocal section, riding along on a tide of acoustic guitar and fluid bass, which in turn ebbs into a slower piano variation before ebbing completely to the sound of gently trickling water. This brings us to the most delicate and yet perhaps the most breathtaking part of this album, made so by its pure subtlety and attention to detail. First Clare and Dave Foster lure us in with a simple, charming flute and guitar duet which flows into a modulated soundscape providing a perfect foil for perhaps Parker's most outstanding vocal delivery of all; it is edge of the seat stuff laden with emotion. Rolling cymbals, hint at the crashing waves to come draw us back as orchestral sounds crowd into the vista. Strings and Horns proclaim the finale to come which starts with a guitar arpeggio and just builds with layer upon layer of sound whilst Parker's impassioned swan song soars and swoops over it all until the waves come crashing down and it is over.

Every time I listen to this album it takes me on a journey and many and varied have been the destinations. I suspect I have yet to uncover every secret it holds for the listener. Perhaps it is not the most accessible album initially, but it is worth taking the effort to listen to it and be swayed by its charm and power. Like many fine things it takes time to appreciate it fully, which in my opinion, was well worth the effort. So give it a chance and don't dismiss it out of hand, like I very nearly did.


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 Cardinal Points by LEGEND album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.81 | 98 ratings

Cardinal Points
Legend Neo-Prog

Review by The-time-is-now

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 upcoming symphonic color. Drums strengthen the 'mystery' impression while the singer goes on. Excellent introduction. Bass and guitar come in to create a first open space where some beautiful flute repeats the guitar melody, or to be more accurate answers to it. The composition is clever, solid. Amazing. Incantation, again. The didgeridoo is very efficient. This leads to a second tray where the keys add a new profound note. They sound a little bit like Deccan's work on Au-delà du délire. Yeah, really, THIS is symphonic music.

Singer continues to deliver her message ; pretty voice, no exaggeration. Drums are very well executed. The guitar lucks into a more powerful riff while the keyboardist embroiders a sweet background fresh covers, maybe a bit too 'modern synthetic' but never mind, the story goes on : third climax. Masterpiece. The drums could be more driving, but ok.

Symphony is driven by the singer. The singing is not annoying, nor repetitive. On the contrary, it reinforces the majestic impression. Quieter moments seem to be a sort of incantation too ; and indeed, the main theme is now on the foreground. Drums wake up. Instruments elapse, particularly guitars (a good solo) and keys. Bass makes a good job and outweighs the drums. The track concludes on small cuts from that excellent composition. We remain unsatisfied, but this is what makes "Carved To Stone" so attractive : its implicit energy. Astounding.

Whisper on the wind - Natural sounds and a more rocky bass give very quickly birth to a guitar and keyboards-driven piece. Keys are almost 'festive', it's quite strange but it actually fits the music. Singer deals with a higher sing than on the previous track. The music is stronger and more ungoverned. Drums are too cagey. A momentary lapse of easygoing gives us some rest while a little acoustic piece jazzes the keys up. A new tempo seems to be worked out.

Mysterious. Spanish. Deep atmosphere. Smart arranging. Electric guitar is back in a frank solo, supported by the bass which seems to live his own live, waiting for good moments to come. And the drums eventually quickens ! Better late than never. Welcome. Guitar solo is now astounding and intricate. Drums rock ! Keys too. Very complex musical piece. It fades.

Bass introduces the second half of the track. Vocals come back. Lyrics are sung in a very harmonious way, and the music is still powerful. Instruments never 'overdo', they just fit the atmosphere, bringing their personal touch. Deceleration.

Focus on a brilliant bass piece. The track is slower than Carved To Stone, but delivers all its energy in the complex parts. Wait, there's a new one arriving either, once again dominated by a devastating guitar riff and by the keys ; bass besides is perfect. Drums are too shy (but correct) ; it's good for the keyboardist who explores a new synthetic world till the end. Natural sounds and thunder.

Spark To a Flame - Lyrics are at the center of the composition as soon as the first seconds of the track. The music gets mighty without a warning. Drums are present. Musical journey is here and there cut by the refrain, and then support it in a symphonic way. The singer bets on a classic gothic-like interpretation of the lyrics. Gamble won. Keys and guitars are once again on the foreground, but on two different stages. It's refreshing and very appreciable. We even hear some 80's Yes-like synthesizer sounds. Interesting. Refrain is rehearsed again and again to complete the growth of the piece.

Keyboards alone now make the transition to the second track part, with steadier vocals acting a pretty gentleness moment. Electronic gothic chorus sound. Change in the singing. Drums back. Be ready for the clash. Bells. Refrain. We hoped a guitar solo, but this track is the singer's arena. Only the keyboards can endeavor some lapses. Good stuff. Ah! The guitar solo we were waiting for ! Brilliant. Faultless. Electric (? what were you expecting ?). Drums more satisfying. Natural sounds, the track is over. Already ?

Drop in the Ocean - Low sounds introduce the singer who delivers her second smoothness awhile. The bass is the most constant instrument in quality on this album. It's always there, in foreground, in background, pondering the music like in the riff we're currently listening to. Pretty piano. Bass and keys-driven music. Guitar nearly absent. We slide from smoothness to drastic flavors, nursed by the bass. Amazing journey. There's a Yes color in this track, in the way emotions are communicated but never displayed till their complete explanation. Can't explain. A more 'blue-bright red' sense of music. Never mind. On the first track there was a Camel note with some keys, to me.

The middle of the track. Acoustic guitar with a peaceful flute behind. More folk. Lovely. It stops to let the singer officiate to rise the music to a little symphonic gem.

And the guitar is back for a riff. It's been a long time. All instruments join with the voice to create a climax in the classic symphonic manner. Neo Prog. Correct. Symphonic Prog. Better.

This album is very moving. The music is clever and fresh. Let's have a more precise look now.

Visual aspect : Compass-based artwork. Each quarter has its color : blue, green, red and then a smoother blue. The center is an Earth, it seems. It's got an ancient flavor, though colors are very strong. Interesting. Old and new. A little bit hypnotizing. > 3/4

Lyrics : Didn't find them on the web. It's difficult for me to review the lyrics, since English is not my native language. Don't hesitate if you got them, I'd be glad to complete this review with an analysis > ?/5

Length : nearly one hour of music. Ok > 1/1

Compositions quality : Brilliant with a few poorer moments. Repetitions are not excessive, they're incorporated on the album like an incantation that runs from the beginning till the end. > 8/10

Instruments diversity : 5/5

Tracks personal appreciation : 1/ Carved to Stone : 5/5 2/ Whisper on the Wind : 4/5 3/ Spark to a Flame : 5/5 4/ Drop in the Ocean 5/5

Bass contribution : 3/3 > excellent play, constant quality. Delightful.

Drums contribution : 1/3 > correct. No more.

Guitar(s) contribution : 2/3 > excellent solos, good accompanying riffs. Could be more effective.

Keyboards contribution : 2/3 > brilliant job. Sometimes too predictable. Could be more enthusiastic in the climax points.

Voice contribution : 2/3 > Excellent. Sometimes predictable, too, but it's logical, when you're singing an incantation?

"Prog" level : 10/10

TOTAL : 57/65 TOTAL ON TWENTY : 17,538/20



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