THE DEMO CORNER
Sad Legend - The Revenge Of Soul
October 4, 2009
So here it is, the new album from Sad Legend after being dormant for eight years following their last official release and eleven years since their last full-length studio album. A true underground classic, Sad Legend’s self-titled album gained them a cult fan base due to its rarity and the reclusive nature of the band members themselves. Well, “reclusive” only due to the fact that the band is Korean which made it virtually impossible to interact with them, see them at shows, etc. On the contrary, Naamah, the creative force and writer of Sad Legend’s music had been quite active in the Korean metal scene since putting the band on ice. He was a member of the criminally underappreciated Holymarsh (releasing two albums) and did session drum work for several bands including Oathean. So anyone who had been paying attention knew that he was still around and hadn’t given up on metal, meaning that it would only be a matter of time before he resurrected Sad Legend. Even so, fans such as I were starting to either lose hope or just forget all together. Rumors and false claims ran all around the net of their reformation from time to time and the self-titled album supposedly was reissued a few times yet it still managed to elude just about every distro, even Korean ones, which made me wonder if these reissues existed at all. So after some strange updates on their MySpace page, the news began to fly around the net that Sad Legend had reformed (actually it was just Naamah since he wrote and played everything) and the release of a new album was imminent. To say that I was excited would be a gross understatement.
On to the album. Now obviously, it would come as no shock that after such a long hiatus if the music was nothing like what we remember from either the self-titled album or the EP or if were full of rust and unpolished song writing, but nothing could be further from the truth. There’s no telling how long Naamah had been writing The Revenge of Soul, but the final product is that of extreme focus, excellent song-writing and every bit Sad Legend. “Axe” opens up the album and immediately sets the stage for what sounds like the natural union of the self-titled album and the Searching the Hope in Utter Darkness EP. The synth is prominently displayed both in the background and in lead segments. Not enough to call this a full-blown symphonic black metal album, but highly melodic otherwise. However, Sad Legend has never relied on the synth for all of its melody. In fact, the guitar riffing has always been their strongest asset and it remains so on this album. The clean vocals that were used on the self-titled album were more of an afterthought and seemed distant while on the EP, Naamah sang with full range and clarity. The Revenge of Soul layers the clean vocals with the black metal snarls on top of each other in many instances, yet the clean singing seems to have been given much more focus and attention. Naamah has a very strong voice with a ton of range. All of these attributes give Sad Legend a huge amount of personality, yet the clean singing seems to raise their own bar even higher in that regard.
Getting back, “Axe” is of course a very strong opener and the guitars sound like they were taken right from the self-titled album lending more credence to the fact that even after all these years, Naamah still knew exactly how Sad Legend is supposed to sound. The next song, “Maruta,” is where I was convinced of my previous statement about the long hiatus not affecting the song-writing one iota. This is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year and embodies all of what Sad Legend is about in every way. A nine minute epic that takes you across many different avenues from a supremely catchy opening verse and fast-paced structure, to a slower, acoustic passage only to explode again to end the song. There is more passion and emotion in this one song than I’ve heard in some bands’ entire albums this year. There are few musicians in metal these days where the song just comes so easy for them that it’s almost unfair and Naamah is right up near the top of that list. This song stays in my head for hours.
Next is “Executioner” and honestly, before I even looked to see what the name of the song was, I knew that it was centered on either a funeral procession or leading the condemned to the gallows. This is a doom track if I’ve ever heard one and the vocals are eerily despondent. It builds a nice crescendo in the second half of the song and ends on an upbeat note, but at the beginning, you can almost see some poor schmuck being dragged in chains by black-cloaked figures. “Elegy Of Slaughter Echoing In The East” is the intended “epic” of the album at just over ten minutes but comes off as a ballad or elegy of sorts. It’s slightly disappointing that this song is probably the weakest song on the album when it’s also the longest. Even so, what it does perfectly is lull you into a relaxed state of mind so that the next track can jump right into your ears and wake you up. “Imjin War” starts with a highly catchy synth intro that leads to an equally catchy opening chorus that’s sure to rattle around in your head for hours afterward. This song is so much like “Nocturnal Cries of Agony” from the self-titled album that it’s uncanny. Not so much that it’s a clone or anything, but the riffing and the overall structure of the two songs are taken from the same set of blueprints.
The first of the two closing tracks would be next. “The Reaper’s Song” is a very competently written song in which Naamah’s near-falsetto vocals are used abundantly. It has a pretty standard structure and is in the same boat as “Axe” in that it complements the rest of the album nicely without having to stand out too much. Closing the album is “Night of the Hunt” which honestly has a pretty goofy sounding chorus and is the one track that doesn’t really sound like Sad Legend. So much so that I thought it might be a cover and for all I know, it could be.
Sometimes things are better left to remain in mystery and left for dead. Past accomplishments become more and more revered over time with the tall tales growing taller every year. When the news of a new Sad Legend album broke, I’m sure there were many like me who worried that our memories of their brief glory would be tainted by some awkward new material. The relief is warm and welcoming knowing that our worries were premature and absolutely washed away with nearly every second of The Revenge of Soul. Sad Legend is back.
Release Date: September 11, 2009
Label: Rockspace / Dream On
4. Elegy Of Slaughter
Echoing In The East
5. Imjin War
6. The Reaper's Song
7. Night Of The Hunt
Total playing time: 46:29
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