Release DetailsLABEL Solid State Records
RELEASED ON 10/3/2006
He Is Legend
Suck Out The Poison
posted on 12/2006 By:
‘Little girl standing there with your daddy’s skin and your momma’s hair / I’ll have you know / I’ll feed them to my roses / and you’re next. I am the noises that you hear when you’re in bed / and I’ll be the last face that you see before you’re dead. With your father gone and your mom in chains / I have time to sleep in late. Your mother never looked so good / your daddy should have brought his gun / now sleep child, just sleep / and when you wake you will grow at my feet.’~~ “China White II”
I don’t buy into these claims that He Is Legend is a band polished and marketed to land in the laps of brain dead teeny bopper MTV Headbanger’s Ball kids. They are neither the new Slipknot, nor the new Cave In, yet if you ever felt like doing a mash-up of those two bands with some pop music flavor thrown in for color, the result might not be too far from Suck Out The Poison. Catchy, rambunctious, easy to listen to, and just slightly demented, these guys have quickly become one of my favorite newer bands on the scene.
Even though tracks like opener “Dixie Wolf (The Seduction Of …)”, and “Stampede” do have a vigorously southern sort of stomp n’ twang feel to them, fears of the band diving into nu-metal Pantera worship are unfounded. They still like to harness the crunch of heavier metalcore with infectious pop hooks, and occasional emo-inspired melodies. However, the stumbling, darkly lurching arrangements of “The Pot Bellied Goddess”, the menacing “China White II”, and “Mushroom River” are ambitious and dynamic in a way that might make them inaccessible to the same MTV-ites the band supposedly caters to. I hear nothing overtly commercial about the rocking, balls-out groove of this album, and hear even less that would appeal to trendy scene whores. Energetic overall, heavy enough to appeal to those who like stoner rock without being weighed down in crunch, but ballsy enough for listeners who can’t get into syrupy emo, it’s difficult to even find another band to compare them to.
Despite losing furball guitarist McKenzie Bell to Bloodjinn, there is no doubt He Is Legend can press on just fine, that is as long as Schuylar Croom’s voice doesn’t give out on him, which may be a legitimate concern. I’ve read many comments about his ability to pull off their material live, which might explain the less adventurous vocal approach on this disc. His note span on this album is subdued compared to earlier works, the delivery is raspier, more weather worn and gritty, and his totally clean voice is now a lot less smooth and harmonious than it used to be. This vocal tweaking suits the thickly produced, straight-ahead heavy rock formula the band employs, as Croom’s aggressive screaming voice is less abrasive than previously heard, and is beginning to sound a little strained. Is it bad? Not really, it’s just different.
Despite my positive views on this album and band, it feels like He Is Legend is also at a stylistic impasse. Even though their songwriting is very good, it’s also sounds very distracted and incohesive at times, as if the band is still trying to find that perfect middle ground between being completely accessible, yet still heavy, without compromising either facet of their sound. The chorus of both the opening track and “Electronic Throat”, could be Sugar Ray in another life, but then “Serpent Sickness” gets into Between The Buried And Me patchwork songwriting that goes from light hooks to thundering breakdowns within the same song with almost no relatable flow. The concluding track “(( (Louds” starts out as one of the strongest groove tunes on the CD, until just before the halfway mark when a female singer who does little more than wail and warble wordlessly is brought in to do nothing but provide embellished filler. Suck Out The Poison just sort of comes to a grinding, spent end, dragging feet, and out of gas.
I love this band, and love this album, but I worry about the future of an act this talented and capable that still has such an unfocused sound. Diversity is fine, keeping options open is fantastic, but if it doesn’t blend well then it just sounds messy. Hopefully He Is Legend will never stop pushing themselves, and never stop expanding the boundaries of their chosen art, but I wish they could find a definitive sound that truly represents them as a band, and convincingly blow away anyone who has doubts or worries. These tunes still bring on the sexy, but it’s time they went for the G-spot on the next album, which knowing them, probably won’t take too long to write. I’ll wait faithfully until then, and encourage you to give them a try as well.
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