He Is Legend

It Hates You

Written by: TL on 31/07/2009 18:04:07

Followers of my reviews (anyone? please?) will have learned long ago that the more macho a band's expression is, the less is the chance that I will actually like it. So naturally the whole southern fried rock/metal style, whiskey drenched yet still dry and dusty, has never really caught on to me on any level, except in a very few cases, one of them being He Is Legend's second album "Suck Out The Poison". Starting their progression away from the clichéd domain of metalcore, that album may have alienated original fans near and far, but for me personally, the increased presence of southern rock'n'roll in the mix hit home perfectly - which I guess is ironic given my opening statement.

So yeah, I've been quite excited to hear what HIL have cooked up for us after being reduced to a one guitarist act when second axe handler Worth Weaver left the band to get married. The answer to my expectations is "It Hates You", and to be quite frank, it has been one hell of a beast to review. I have listened to it more or less constantly over the past week, and still my mind and my gut have very, very different feelings about it.

But let's allow my mind to.. speak it's mind.. first, seeing how that's probably what you can relate the best to. The first thing to notice about "It Hates You" is that HIL have been given more of a big rock production than earlier, as their soundscape now echoes eerily with bleakness and negativity. To fill out the space once occupied by the rhythm guitar, the bass has been given an extremely prominent position in the mix, rumbling threateningly and often being what actually drives the band's songs ahead, while the guitar sticks to providing atmosphere in the background. Those are the positives, and along with some classy additions of female backing vocals in places, they make this album the unusual and fascinating listen that it unquestionably is.

So this sounds bigger, badder and just flat out better right? Well, almost. Because singer Schuylar Croom, charismatic as he may be, has unfortunately all but abandoned the outbursts of screaming that really made "Suck Out The Poison" spark, and while he variates his raspy singing greatly and impressively (imagine Josh Homme, losing his cool and getting rather angry), I can't help but miss things like the "REST IN PIECES" roars of the prior album's "Dixie Wolf". Apart from that, the album title is also dead on. This record just flat out dislikes its listener, for better or for worse. It's cool because it makes it seem much more coherent and atmospheric than the last one, but again, it comes at the cost of the prior album's dynamics and volatility. It's simply so solidly and consistently dark, that it's going to take a fair share of listens before you can find something to hold onto during the ride through the album's impressive length (Thirteen tracks, only two below four minutes long).

A boat load of listening sessions later however, I am starting to make friends with "It Hates You". Highlight tracks like "Everybody I Know Has Fangs" and "Don't Touch That Dial" start to seem singalong-able, while "The Future's Bright Man" unveils some cool and shiny guitar licks, and "The Primary Blues" reminds me of Deftones - I'd even go as far as to say there's a bit of Chino Moreno in Croom's voice when he's applying it at its softest...

Anyway, the thing is: This is a dense and highly enjoyable album with a relatively unique sound, and it is surely worthy of many repeat listens, however, while this may or may not be a feeling subjective to this writer, even the good songs here fail to give me the punch to the stomach that those of the last record did. I'm simply not finding myself singing as long as passionately as I remember doing on "If you got the magic! - Then I got the moves!" (from "Attack Of The Dungeon Witch"). I'm not saying that this should stop you from getting it, since it's probably better than 80% of whatever else you could be spending your time on, all I'm saying is that, for an album so highly praised in many other reviews, I'm surprised to find that it's highlights don't shine quite as bright as its predecessor's, even if it is way more consistent throughout.

8

Download: Everyone I Know Has Fangs, Don't Touch That Dial, The Primary Blues, The Future's Bright Man
For The Fans Of: Queens Of The Stone Age (but heavier), Deftones (but more rock'n'roll)
Listen: myspace.com/heislegend

Release Date 21.07.2009
Tragic Hero Records

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