He Is Legend Dominate Intimate Show in Chicago

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It’s taken me the better part of a week to try to figure out how to start this: last week, He Is Legend invaded The Subterranean, a club in Chicago. The band, mainstays for a decade with a significant following, played an extremely intimate show. For fans of the band, a hardcore style of ‘Southern rock,’ this was a dream – they could actually touch the stage as the music raged. Technically though, the club was basically empty.

It seems like everyone I know listens to He Is Legend (more of my friends listen to them than they do New Found Glory). As an outsider to the band, I attended the show on a whim with a friend, curious to see the group I’ve heard so much about. Though we arrived late, there were only 40 to 50 people in a room built for at least a couple hundred.

This was not an issue. The fans in attendance were ablaze. The bands gave the crowd an amazing time, essentially playing right on top of them.

Technically the second band on the roster, relative newcomers Don’t Feed the Birds, made a lot of noise for such a small group. What was impressive about them was that, although they’re still fairly green, they wore a stage presence of veterans. Not only were they bouncing as they played, but they grabbed my attention with a lack of bass guitar. The three piece band consisted of a drummer and two guitarists, making up for the lack of bass with distinct higher and lower notes that sounded enough like a full band to make me second guess that there wasn’t a bassist. This is a band that I sincerely hope to see an a year or two drop an astounding album that lands them on the map.

Must be the holy ghost

In what may be the most impressive showcase of musicianship I’ve ever seen, Must Be the Holy Ghost took the one man act to a whole new level. Recording and looping vocal and guitar parts mid-song, MBtHG had a full, rich and clean sound that lent itself well to a style that took a step back from the hardcore influences of the other bands for a more somber tone.

Behind (and on top of) him, a projector displayed a large image of brightly colored oils, spinning and mixing to the beat of the music. It was trippy for someone who hadn’t expected to see it, and captivating in a way to give the music more impact that you would otherwise find on an album alone.

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He Is Legend though, are a formidable force. They’re loud, and comfortable enough with their sound to dance between sincere vocals and crisp screams. There was a fine, delicious line that swayed between hardcore, pop punk and Southern rock that gave the set a full atmosphere. Opening with “Seduction”, the band blasted through some favorites including “I Am Hollywood”, and a version of “Attack of the Dungeon Witch” that melded into “Magnolia”.

While they seemed comfortable in their respective places on stage, their wall of sound dominated the room, made louder and defiant to the small crowd. In the end, the show was a success, but it absolutely baffled me that a band with this much talent faced an issue that I would have never dreamed of. Especially at a club in the hipster part of Chicago.

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Bands face a continuous problem of selling records and touring to support themselves, and it’s easy to forget that even bands with a large following can still face that pressure from time to time. Why Chicago didn’t bite as much as I would have expected, I don’t know. I’ve been wondering why so badly the last few days, and I just don’t have an answer. It happens.

For the fans there, this show was a dream come true. It was up close and unrealistically intimate. You could feel the heat coming from the bands’ bodies as they furiously played and jumped. It was the type of show that showed the resilience of a band and a genre that thrives off of a hardcore fanbase, which is what music is all about.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and was told he would get a “foot up my ass” from two different people for not telling them about He Is Legend being in town. TWO PEOPLE. How often does that happen?

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Review: He Is Legend – Heavy Fruit

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If you’re a fan of the sound of He Is Legend’s music, don’t get too comfortable. The Wilmington, North Carolina, rock band has made a career out of sonic swerving and switching lanes amidst chaotic traffic, refusing to land in one spot for too long. Nevertheless, each respective landing seems to produce its own, individually lauded product, the most recent of which is perhaps the band’s finest.

It’s been 10 years since He Is Legend released their frenzied full-length debut, I Am Hollywood. That album fit the time will – a fast-paced post-hardcore adventure that sat neatly on the shelf next to contemporaries like Underoath and As Cities Burn. Those days are long gone, and truthfully, the band is all the better for it.

Heavy Fruit, the band’s latest release, follows a hiatus and shares some similarities with its predecessor, 2009’s It Hates You. While that album served as a primer for a band embracing its Southern hard rock roots, Heavy Fruit expands on that notion from every conceivable angle, taking sludgy detours and using various metal influences as building blocks to add to the band’s repertoire.

Like every He Is Legend release, there’s something bubbling beneath the surface throughout the record, but on Heavy Fruit, the band appears content to let a moment simmer without forcing a boil over. Opener “No Visitors” serves as exhibit A and finds the band slowly sludging forward for nearly two minutes before vocalist Schuyler Croom takes the reigns with a soaring, melodic chorus, singing the shadowy lines, “Some say that’s the sun in a disguise / and he’s in the sky tonight / One day you can worship who you like / but you’re on your own this time”.

Throughout the album, the band transitions between faster, pop influenced numbers (“This Will Never Work”, “Smoker Scoff”) and slower, brooding tracks (“Miserable Company”, “Bethozart”) almost effortlessly. Heavy Fruit is truly a collection of the best parts of He Is Legend compacted into one solid front-to-back experience.

Croom takes each of these opportunities in stride, utilizing his cryptic delivery while adding in a new layer of vulnerability that, until now, hadn’t been put to tape. On “Be Easy”, Croom uses a gentle faltsetto atop a bouncy southern guitar lick from Adam Tanbouz, revealing even more vocal prowess than we knew existed. On the album’s lead single “Something, Something, Something Witchy”, he unleashes what may be his most explosive and melodic chorus to date.

On “Time to Stain”, the band try their hand at soft, dark radio rock and succeed triumphantly. Croom bares his broken soul on the track, singing, “I hope I cross your mind / You’re on mine all the time / I hope you find what you need / I swear it’s me”. Not quite what you’d expect from someone who has made a career crooning about vampires and witches, but a much appreciated diversion from fiction.

Heavy Fruit is a slow burn, for certain. The over-the-top moments and neurotic madness are limited here, requiring a patience not typically expected from a He Is Legend release. Nonetheless, listeners who spend some time getting to know the record will come to appreciate the band’s restraint and shape-shifting ability from track to track. Heavy Fruit is an album that deserves to be experienced from start to finish, truly a greater whole than the sum of its parts.

It’s impossible to know what lies ahead for He Is Legend, which is surely part of the allure. In the meantime, they appear to have nearly perfected their own unique brew of rock and have released one of the best records thus far in 2014.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

He Is Legend to release “Heavy Fruit” on August 19th

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He Is Legend will return with a new album titled Heavy Fruit on August 19th. The album will be released on Tragic Hero Records and is the first release from the band since 2009’s It Hates You. The album can be pre-ordered now, as can a special vinyl release of It Hates You. Pretty sweet, right?

Check out the track list and a new song titled “Miserable Company” below:

Track List
1. No Visitors
2. This Will Never Work
3. Miserable Company
4. Something, Something, Something Witchy
5. I Sleep Just Fine
6. Beethozart
7. Spout Mouth
8. Be Easy
9. Time To Stain
10. ABRACADABRA
11. Smoker Scoff
12. The Carpet
13. Heavy Fruit

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Posted by Kiel Hauck

He Is Legend release new song “Something Witchy”

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North Carolina rockers He Is Legend have released a new song titled “Something Witchy”. The song is the band’s first released material in nearly five years. He Is Legend has been on hiatus for nearly two years but is currently recording a new album. You can listen to “Something Witchy” below:

He Is Legend released their debut album I Am Hollywood in 2004 and then Suck Out the Poison in 2006, both on Solid State Records. They then released It Hates You on Tragic Hero Records in 2009. What do you think of the new track? Let us know in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck