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Legend: Cardinal Points

UK band Legend has not been heard from for 15 years but with a new lead singer they have taken a fresh stab at living up to the name of the band. This epic concept disc while easily compared to Anne Haslam and Renaissance, also bring to the progressive music scene a very old style of rock and roll that will have you thinking of the days of Haight/Ashbury and the hippie music that originated there. It has a folksy quality that combines with the spiritual subject matter will make sure that the listening experience is way far out and groovy.

Earth, Air, Fire, Water are the Cardinal Points that this band point to on the 4 songs that make up this disc. With each clocking in at over 13 minutes and up to 17, they give you ample opportunity to explore each element in the fullest. With a charming mysticism that makes me think of the Indians of our South Western region, Legend has created a very fun disc that has some very bold musical statements but also tends to kind of drag on and on in places.

Yes the songs do seem to go on forever and even though they have some dynamic instrumental passages ( I really like the bass guitar solo in "Whisper On The Wind") the songs would have been much better served in smaller doses.

There is also a repetitiveness I think is due to the length of the compositions. I lost count how many times you hear the title sung in the song "Spark To A Flame". They might be trying to deliver some kind of mantra here but I really lost interest even though there is a very cool synthesizer solo in the middle of this one.

The musicianship on this album is outstanding without a doubt. The vocals are very earthy and fit the subject matter perfect. The main problem, if you can call it that, is that this disc is just a little too laid back. It never seems to get beyond the simmering point as you wait for it to boil. This is not to say that it is a bad disc in any way. It just tends to become background music and nothing more. I have enjoyed it many, many times but as soon as I pull it out of the player it is easily forgotten. Still it has some very good moments but not enough to keep my interest for the duration.

Track listing:

1. Carved In Stone
2. Whisper On The Wind
3. Spark To A Flame
4. Drop In The Ocean

Added: November 28th 2011
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Score:
Related Link: Band's Official Page
Hits: 1112
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Legend: Cardinal Points
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-11-28 08:52:11
My Score:

Recent years have seen a resurgent Legend waking from their dormancy, with a best of anthology Ritual Echo being released in 2009, while 2010 saw the emergence of the excellent live album Playing With Fire. Finally some twelve years after curling into their hibernation slumber, studio album number four Cardinal Points strides out into the light.


First coming together in the deep dark mists of time (well 1988 crikey it seems like yesterday...), Legend brought into being a style of Progressive music that was at least unique and at best rather groundbreaking. With symphonic tendencies which have in recent years become exceptionally en vogue and a strong hint of keyboard led Neo-Prog, it could be argued that while far from being Heavy Metal, Legend paved the way for the likes of Nightwish, or Within Temptation to follow. Three albums were released between 1991 and 1995, but towards the end of 1999, outside pressures and real life slowly but surely ground the band to a halt, although the making of Cardinal Points had already begun.

Fast forward to 2010 and we find the band's mainman and keyboard player Steve Paine teaming up with Legend's original, pre-debut album singer Kerry Parker, as well as guitarist Dave Foster (Mr. SO & SO/The Wishing Tree), Dan Nelson (Godsticks) and long term drummer John Macklin to rekindle both Legend and their individual style of music. Prog, Folk and Rock all come to the fore across this disc, although it is the manner in which Legend intertwine them that is truly impressive and while Cardinal Points is far, far removed from being a quick-fix, or immediate album, it is one which rewards repeated listens intensely. Each of the four songs in evidence range from thirteen to seventeen minutes, with the slow building themes and ideas almost becoming tribal in places and while this is undoubtedly Progressive music, the harsh guitar sound and high in the mix drum sound, makes for unsettlingly punchy, if intricate music. All four tracks work through differing tempos, although for some the manner in which Legend build the tension, while keeping you hooked through slow, meandering passages may prove tough to endure. Cut through that weighty claustrophobia and you will receive the reward of the frantic conclusions, where blistering guitar work takes over from the usually dominant keyboards, although the percussion contribution is also key in building and destroying the various moods and themes that flash past.

Kerry handles the vocals with poise and precision, with her gloriously rounded, deep tones offering an unexpected aspect, although she is not unlike Debbie Chapman who she both preceded and followed in this band. Paine himself is a supremely talented keyboard player and producer (the rough, brash sound on this album reminds me of the recent arK album), but it is the manner in which his songwriting leaves room for his accomplished band to shine that really makes his performance all the stronger.

Progressive, Folky music shouldn't be as hard hitting as Cardinal Points, making for an album that at low volumes soothes and heals, while cranked up, scalds and blisters. Anyone hoping for an easy journey should shy away, but with time this is an album which captivates and invigorates in equal measure.



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