Review Summary: A legend is born...
I'd like to think of myself as something of a completist. I strive to finish what I have started, no matter the challenge, no matter what the task at hand is. When I was about 10 or 11, I began to read a Christian novel series, Left Behind
. This serial told the tale of Biblical prophecy in a modern setting, with everyday people struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. It was a very engaging read, and I was instantly hooked. Being the age that I was, I had no way of getting my hands on the entire series at the time, and after reading the fifth book in the series I gave up finishing it.
Fast forward to this summer. I found myself bored out of my mind. Therefore, I decided to finish the series that I had started years ago. I did so in the span of five weeks, reading from books six to twelve, as found in my local library. As always when I read, I sat on my open porch and read to music in the sunlight. With all the music that I was exposed to and listened to whilst reading, nothing complemented or fit the subject matter quite as well as Savior Machine's 1997 record Legend Part I
, the first album in a series of what will be a true magnum opus.
An intense study of Biblical prophecy unto itself, Legend Part I
is a very haunting, operatic endeavor. Brothers Jeff and Eric Clayton bring the prophesied events to life in their music, with Eric's commanding, emotional voice soaring over symphonic arrangements and overdriven guitar chords. The lyrics show a deep love and understanding of the content, all bolstered by the vocal performance.
A shining example of the emotion that can seep through the speakers comes with the title track, Legend I-I
. The troubled tinkling of a piano introduces Eric's deep vocals, a delivery sad, melancholic, and yet somehow including a foreshadow of hope. The mood is almost depressing with lone vocals and piano. High notes permeate the atmosphere, as Eric continues to lament, until a fuzzy guitar chord ushers in a slow drum beat and synth. Eric is given newfound courage, with his voice soaring over the ensemble, echoing a line that will carries with it a sense of power in mere words: A legend is born...
This powerful statement bleeds on into the next track, The Lamb
. A cohesion of distorted guitar leads and clean-and-clear piano behind the crying of lyrics professing love and reassurance is incredibly uplifting. A choir enhances this notion even further than expected, yet it seems that Eric's voice can trump the entire group, simply on sheer power. A series of samples muddles and confuses the song as it draws to a close.
While any story of an apocalypse may carry some underlying theme of hope, these tales are primarily shrouded in darkness, a feeling of despair and confusion never far behind. The song The Birth Pangs
aids in this thematic duality. A desert-groove vibe is given off by an overdriven guitar, whilst another, palm-muted rhythm line from Jeff injects itself into the verse, Eric all-the-while paying no mind in his vocal performance. Cries of Apocalypse!
resound as the desert feel return for yet another go-around. An organ produces an exceedingly epic feel in the next chorus, and made a background of fading synth for it to lie upon. A drum-heavy passage ensues, with Eric claiming...someone's insanity, making for an extremely unsettling moment. Another chorus comes, aided by the return of the choir. Lone violin is all that is left to console the choir of vocals. More samples, this time more frightening in nature than seen previous, appear. The song is, overall, very dark and despondent, a perfect mood set for the subject matter presented.
Intertwining lead guitar lines put to battle, with Eric as a sort of cosmic mediator, are the first tastes of The Sword of Islam
. Sparse drums set the stage for the vocals to speak of Biblical history, with such conviction that it is almost as if he were there to witness the events that he is speaking of. A violin section joins the current ensemble to add a little variation in the mix, along with the strikes of an organ. This song, as it plods along, gains even more power, until it is only Eric, a drum or two to be hit, and the guitar lines, finally following the vocal line for one last, fleeting moment.
Legend Part I
does not limit its styles to the purely-symphonic. Tracks such as The Invasion of Israel
feature industrial guitar riffs and copy-cat drumming, creating a sound that is entirely unexpected, based upon both previous tracks as well as the subject matter. The clarion-call of Apocalypse!
, as heard in The Birth Pangs
, is interjected into this track, which submits under the weight of the guitar riffing. The Beast
shows perfectly the band's melding of this industrial dabbling and Eric Clayton's incredibly operatic tendencies, and it is a glorious testament, with a foreboding feel added by the lyrics.
The album's longest track, Gog Kings of the North
begins in an almost Gothic sense, with rebounding piano layers provide introduction to their guest of palm-muted guitar and the most spastic back-beat to be heard on the album. Eric's vocal performance here is extremely strong, and his speaking as, seemingly, the enemy of God is a strong sentiment. A movement that brings the entire instrumental section together to marry with the vocals, now taking the other side of this Biblical battle in an effort to defend Israel, is an incredibly powerful moment. A positively metal, driving portion follows, letting the drums shine as never before, returning after a reprieve of symphonic proportions sets in. The effect of this song is trance-like, especially in its climax, where a beautiful arrangement of choir-like vocals allows the music to fade away in epic form.
It matters not what religious affiliation, if any, you hold. This is an album you must hear to truly experience. Saviour Machine's Legend Part I
is an immense exercise in symphonic arrangement, which is only fitting for the subject matter being presented. Hints of Jeff Clayton's industrial guitar, with spastic drumming and hard rock sounds, are interspersed throughout the album to add yet another facet to the music. This layer acts to freshen the sound of the music, as well as the give even more of an edge to the already-powerful vocals of Eric Clayton. However, there is almost no bass present throughout the entire album, which ultimately hurts the ensemble. A low end would have given the sound darker undertones to go along with the prophetic lyrical content. The album as a whole is a perfect companion to understanding the subject matter presented. If that's not your scene, it's the perfect tool in your fix for an epic sound, rife with expert musicianship and powerful movements. You might just find something you didn't expect to hear.
"Legend I-I," "The Birth Pangs"
The musicianship is exquisite, presenting an epic atmosphere with ever track
Eric Clayton's powerful voice makes for an awe-inspiring performance
In the same respect, Eric's voice doesn't vary much, which could annoy some
The subject matter could be a turn-off to certain listeners
TO BE CONTINUED