Review Summary: Consistently evolving, but staying consistently the same.
The band He Is Legend is an anomaly to me. When I was asked how to describe the band to a friend, I found myself at a bit of a loss. Let me explain. Many bands claim that “each album will be different from the last while retaining what makes that band, that band”. The thing with He Is Legend is that it’s entirely the truth. Across many different internet threads and reviews, I see the question “Which album is their best?” brought up quite a bit, but the overwhelming consensus is never a clear cut answer. It would seem that a majority would lean towards I Am Hollywood, but at the same time, many people make the same arguments for It Hates You and the other albums, which makes me realize that many people are claiming favorites based off of the first album in which they digest He Is Legend.
Putting all the unnecessary exposition aside, I feel like that needs to be stated that He Is Legend know how to play to their strengths without completely abandoning their core sounds, which would be a Southern tinged hard rock/metal offering, rife with catchy hooks and riffs, chugs, and the gravy and fixings to go with it. Why do I mention all of this in advance? Because if this is your first foray into the band, this could very well be your favorite album should you listen to the rest of the bands catalog.
Where does White Bat, then, stack up against the rest of the discography? Simply put, it’s near the top for me. The southern groove and crunch that made the band as popular as they are is here in full force, with a few moments of relief thrown in to make a well rounded out album across all 11 tracks. The album kicks off at full force with the title track “White Bat” and doesn’t let off of the gas for the first five tracks, and the title track is certainly a good indicator of what to expect. Another highlight track can be found in “Eye Teeth”, which sounds like it could have been put right alongside other tracks from earlier albums like Suck out the Poison and It Hates You.
Where the album gets to be a little more interesting is when things step back to take a breath. “Uncanny Valley” shows off the slower side of the band well, with a lingering guitar weaving back and forth, creating the soundscape for lead singer Schuyler Croom to gently sing over top, creating a moody, almost haunting track. “The Interloper” also shows off a slower mood as well in this same vein. One problem, however, with these slower songs is their placement. The album kicks off at such a high velocity that these songs can throw the pacing and feel of the album off some, especially since they're back to back tracks. That’s not to say the songs themselves are bad, just that it feels like the album is a bit front loaded, and placing them earlier or at least spaced out might have made the album flow a little better. The final track makes up for this however and ends the album on a perfect note. The Rob Zombie-esque “Boogiewoman” closes out the album with a sludgy riff driving the song and one of the catchiest choruses on the album.
All in all, White Bat is an album that is a fun ride from top to bottom, and even though there are a few dead spots in the album that could have been slightly better, the album deserves a listen from He Is Legend fans and should entice potential newer fans to the band as well.