South Carolinian metal stalwarts He Is Legend have always been a band that are hard to nail down to one particular genre. In fact it’s their ability to splice so many influences together that has endeared them to their fans over the course of their 14 year existence.
They play Birmingham on the back of their recently released fifth album ‘Few’, an album that came to fruition after a successful crowd funding campaign, a campaign that reached 124% of its original goal. The choice to release the album independently seemed to provide more freedom and time for the band to produce what is arguably their best work to date. The album has been receiving positive reviews since its release and personally, is one of my favourite records of the year so far.
Support comes from Hampshire Post-Hardcore boys, Acres; who provide a solid opening. Their performance is full of raw energy and purpose; their passion for their craft is apparent throughout their short set. Unfortunately, this energy isn’t reciprocated by the crowd, who stand at the back of the tiny room and nod politely. They do sound impressive throughout and in Ben Lumbar they have a vocalist with plenty of raw talent. Which certainly sets them apart from a lot of their peers in an already over populated scene. While their music is hardly groundbreaking, there is plenty of interesting things about Acres, there is a melancholic mood that materialises within the melodies and lyrics, there’s also plenty of heaviness but also moments of post-rocky reverb-laden ambience. It’s an entertaining set from a band that clearly love playing live and have a real passion for the music they’re creating.
As expected, by the time He Is Legend come on there’s little over 30 people there to witness them. The first thing front-man Schuylar Croom does is usher the crowd to the stage, instantly creating a more intimate atmosphere. They jump straight into ‘Widow of Magnolia’ a song which nicely shows off what He is Legend are all about. The meaty riffs from guitarists Denis Desloge and Adam Tanbouz, the unmistakable bluesy southern twang of Croom and the dynamic, groove-laden rhythms of bassist Matty Williams and current tour drummer Jesse Shelley.
It seems a recurring theme when I come to see bands at the Academy, especially the smaller rooms, that the live mix is poor. Throughout the set Croom’s vocals seem far too quiet, there’s some points that I can barely hear him at all over the sound of the drums. Though he makes up for this by being a fantastic showman throughout, he spends the set exchanging drinks with the front row, dancing throughout and generally just being an eccentric and entertaining front-man.
Despite the short set, the set- list is a nice cross-section of their career so far with songs off every album included. There’s the bluesy swagger of ‘Be Easy’, the groovy ‘Everyone I Know Has Fangs’ and ‘Mean Shadows’ from third album It Hates You. A song which provides one of the heaviest parts of the whole set for the first minute or so, before a clever time-change pulls the track in a completely different direction. I was a little surprised to only hear one from ‘Few’, which seems a little strange considering this is the album they’re currently promoting. Lead single ‘Sand’ was the solitary inclusion, a song that is nothing less than an absolute banger, from a thunderous opening riff, inventive vocal melodies and a ridiculously catchy chorus and coda. It’s less than three minutes long but it’s a short, yet convincing demonstration of how good the new album is.
Not hearing more newer songs proved to be a minor gripe, as nobody could complain when they finished with two firm fan favourites. The oddly danceable ‘The Seduction’ and the unrelentingly intense ‘I Am Hollywood’ from the debut album with the same name. Concluding the set with the throat ripping scream of “I am Hollywood! You better remember.” was a fitting ending to an incredibly fun 45 minutes of He Is Legend!
Reviewer: Francis Sebestjanowicz
Photographer: Arta Gailuma