Review Summary: Viking Metal before it was cool.
You know what sounds like a perfect subject for a heavy metal song? Vikings. And I’m not the only one with this idea. Look back throughout the history of heavy metal. Vikings are a pretty common topic. Iron Maiden even wrote a song about them! In fact, so many people thought that this was a great idea that whole bands have revolved around this concept of “Viking Metal.” But before all of them, Amon Amarth, Ensiferum, even Bathory, there was a small heavy metal band from the United States called Legend. They released their debut album, Frӧm the Fjӧrds
in 1979, and blew almost everything else away from that time period. Led Zeppelin wasn’t this heavy; Black Sabbath wasn’t this fast or jamming.
Legend seems like a real oddity, they had the sort of songwriting mentality of a jam band or stoner band, but the more metal sensibilities of a few other contemporaries (namely Sabbath). Listen to album standout, The Golden Bell
, with its long flowing solos and plenty of cool fills to get a sense of what I mean. The riffs are heavy, the solos are heavy, yet the whole song has a seeming jam feel. It’s an interesting combination that still sounds unique to this day.
When you combine an interesting approach to songwriting with phenomenal musicians, you get some pretty great songs. The guitar playing of Kevin Nugent is phenomenal; his speed outstrips most other guitarists of the time. The songs R.A.R.Z.
and The Confrontation
are extremely speedy songs, nearing almost thrash metal levels at times. Kevin also handles vocal duties, having a voice that is extremely unique. It sounds very laid back, which seems odd when compared to the back drop of the fast paced riffing. But in fact, it adds an almost mystical feeling to the tracks, improving the atmosphere.
The rhythm section is also amazing, the bass playing of Fred Melillo is very fast and technical, and above all, it is extremely audible, overtaking the guitar at some points. This adds a great deep, rumbling feel to the songs that a lot of modern bands seem to miss. The drumming is simply astounding; Raymond E. Frigon is easily the best musician of the three. He has lots of quick time changes and fills. When you hear the jaw dropping opener of Iron Horse
you will know what I’m talking about.
Despite all these phenomenal qualities, there are a few…questionable decisions. For example, the track Wizard’s Vengeance
(which you may know because Slough Feg covered the song on Twilight of the Idols
) has a great solo going on and then….it abruptly ends. No transition, just stop. The song could have easily gone on a little longer, especially seeing as it is the shortest song on the album. Also, the opening for R.A.R.Z.
has a strange, almost country music, intro that just really doesn’t mesh well with the rest of the song. It feels like it was just thrown in there for kicks. And then it comes back for the closing of the song. It makes no sense at all, and again, feels very abrupt.
Despite these flaws, Frӧm the Fjӧrds
is an amazing album, full of great musicianship and great ideas for the time. It’s a pity that Legend’s influence has been lost to the ages, and it is especially sad that Kevin Nugent passed away a few years after the recording of this album. This album is crammed full of interesting ideas, and it would be great to see where they went from here. I easily recommended this album to any traditional heavy metal fans, or fans of the genre “Viking Metal.”
-Great guitar playing
-Opening and closing of R.A.R.Z. Seriously, what the heck?
-Very lo-fi production
-Wizard’s Vengeance ends…
The Golden Bell
Frӧm the Fjӧrds