Review Summary: One of these days..
He Is Legend is quite the peculiar band. From live shows chock full of strange dancing and Metallica covers, to shortly running a string of tee shirts featuring upside down crosses and naked women getting their throats slit, normal has rarely been an apt adjective for the band. Even stranger yet is the progression the band has taken over its career, beginning as one of the premiere post-hardcore bands in the mid 2000’s before putting forth a divisive southern drenched rock and roll record, then subsequently alienating fans even further with 2009’s It Hates You
before promptly going on an indefinite hiatus. As to be expected at this point in their career, in the five years since the initial announcement He Is Legend underwent another flurry of touring/band members before settling on the current four man lineup. Earlier this year the band released their first new music in almost five years with the single “Something, Something, Something Witchy”, a lead single that while insanely catchy, did not personally incite any sort of anticipation for their upcoming August release. I can now safely say that was the wrong reaction, as the men of He Is Legend have put forth one of their best, if not one of the best albums of the entire year, with Heavy Fruit
Based on the limited exposure I had to the singles leading up to this release I was expecting a slow-brooding, insanely heavy album that would take me weeks to actually appreciate, and the opening seconds of “No Visitors” only exacerbated my fears with down tempo creeping guitars and lead vocalist Schuylar Croom singing slowly and as low as possible, before exploding into the new version of He Is Legend; a no-holds-barred, unapologetic, riff heavy rock and roll band. The entire record holds and unprecedented darkness throughout while also managing to be some of the catchiest material the North Carolina foursome has produced. The aforementioned evolution of the band may not be as immediately noticeable from It Hates You
to Heavy Fruit
as it has been with past releases, but the progression is definitely there. Songs such as album highlight “Be Easy” or single “Smoker Scoff” display just how groovy
the new He Is Legend has become. Gone isthe vicious screaming and bellowing of their first two records, thankfully giving way to more experimentation with Croom’s rejuvenated vocal delivery. Although there are plenty of instances of lyrics that are almost cringe-inducing (i.e. “This Will Never Work” ’s I'm a bad, bad, real bad man /and I carry heavy hands / you're a good, good, too good girl
) Croom manages to portray them passionately and sincerely amidst crushing instrumentation, making the occasional lyrical hiccup more than forgivable.
The rest of the band layers riff after riff on song after song, making repeated listens almost mandatory to truly appreciate the depth of the 13 tracks. Borrowing lyrical content from Kubrick’s classic The Shining, penultimate track “The Carpet” is a perfect example of this with a perfect juxtaposition of dark lyricism and perfectly placed guitar parts in tune with what might be the tightest rhythm section He Is Legend has boasted before ending with a breakdown that, while devoid of typical harsh vocals, is one of the heaviest moments on an insanely heavy record. As with the past few release, Heavy Fruit prominently features female vocals and harmonies, which in turn adds even more to the dark atmosphere all the while feeling perfectly at home.
A sum of its parts in almost every sense of the phrase, Heavy Fruit
is an album that somehow instantly clicks, yet still requires multiple listens to fully appreciate. Every single track has something that demands attention from listeners, be it the contemplative choruses and deteriorating ending of “I Sleep Just Fine”, the nostalgia-inducing chanting that brings “ABRACADABRA” to a close, or the entirety of the surprisingly beautiful, nearly acoustic “Time To Stain”. He Is Legend is a band that seems very secure in what they are and the direction in which they are heading, eschewing nearly every notion of the band they were ten years ago to create a record that fully lives up to their early potential.