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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Born in a state of grace, 30 Nov 2013
This review is from: Spirit (MP3 Download)
According to their website LEGEND are celebrating their 25th Anniversary as a band with the release of this, their fifth album. Whilst this has a certain pleasing mathematical symmetry, to me at least, it does rather pointedly highlight the fact that they have been far from prolific in their output! On the evidence of this album I would suggest that what they lack in quantity they certainly make up for in quality.

The first thing you note about the album is the stunning artwork by Josephine Wall which is wonderfully multifaceted and certainly conveys the feel of this recording in its imagery. The second, and perhaps the most surprising, is that there are only five songs. However the listener is far from short changed as this still combines to make an hour's worth of quality music. LEGEND have a strong Progressive Rock bent and have certainly embraced the philosophy of the epic Prog bands of the 70's, however this album is not by any means old school Prog.

The opening song Leap of Faith sets the tone for the album it burst forth from the speakers with bombastic aplomb, biting guitars, bombastic drums and a cathedral organ that can reach the heights of heaven and shake the foundations of hell. The band effortlessly power through a Bach inspired introduction leading directly to the next surprise; the Choir! This propels the track into an Orfian frenzy setting the listen up for the grand entrance of their new vocalist Beck Sian, whom incidentally is a relative of the iconic singer / songwriter Kate Bush. Sian's vocal seizes centre stage with the authority equal to any of the strong female voices in metal out there today. Like most LEGEND songs this one is a journey of highs and lows all delivered with poise and conviction. A breathtaking introduction to the album.

Wood for the Trees is the shortest and perhaps quirkiest of the tracks on Spirit. Clocking in at a shade under 7 minutes it grabs the listener from the get go. Amazingly tight Guitar, Keys, Bass and Drums herald a punchy folk rock verse and chorus, very reminiscent of Tull in their Heavy Horse period. Odd timings are woven together in a strangely satisfying whole, with Sian's voice at once deep and resonate whilst still managing to soar over the maelstrom. Her range is certainly exceptional! The lyrics are interspersed with biting solos from both Paine and Thomson, Paine here reminds me of Jon Lord with howling overdriven organ, whereas Thomson's approach is reminiscent of Gary Moore's melodic finest.

As I have hinted already LEGEND have penchant for long and epic pieces and the third track A Tangled Skein is just that. Clocking in at over 18 minutes you might expect long extended solos or introverted instrumental passages, however what you get is a rollercoaster ride of a song. It starts unassumingly enough with lyrical guitar lulling one into a sense of a ballad unfolding, Sian's vocals take on yet another dimension, further proof of her versatility. Eerily seductive keyboards caress the ears before the song shows its true colours. The epic choruses bring drummer John Macklin to the fore showing off his power and dexterity. Having established a central theme the song then twists and turns through a multitude of changes in pace, style and timing, ranging from full out metal to spooky Middle Eastern, psychedelic and tribal elements add the already startlng tapestry. The wall of sound climax leaves one breathless as the band piles on layer after layer of sonic mayhem.

The next song; Crossing of the Ways, brings an air of calm after the storm. A lush synthesizer pad makes the perfect foil for some exquisite fretless bass, courtesy of Steve Paine, setting the tone from a lilting lyrical ballad. The tune is simple, yet beautiful! The chorus has breathtaking passion, as builds into a soaring power ballad, with hints of Jim Steinman at his finest. The interlude duet between keys and guitars brings the song back down to a whisper, before it rebuilds into Paul Thomson's starring moment. A lyrical reminiscent, dare I say it to Gilmour's solo in Comfortably Numb, resolving the song in melodic completeness.

State of Grace, the final track, begins simply with solo piano, soon joined by both the band and Beck Sian, in full flight. This song is a tour de force, melodic verses, powerful choruses, with full choir to boot. Myriad instrumental twist and turns, indeed the essence of epic progressive rock in a single song. At the mid-point, the building crescendo falls back to leave space for Beck Sian to weave alternating vocal layers that weave in and out in stunning contrapuntal harmonies, before the choir and band enter in full flight to bring the song and indeed the entire album to a rousing and uplifting grand operatic finale, wrapped in a full metal jacket.

So what of the album as a whole? Personally I feel that LEGEND pulled off a masterstroke, bridging gaps between genres such as Symphonic Metal and Progressive Rock. In a way it is surprising that this isn't more prevalent as both genres border each other in various ways. Although I have made a smattering of comparisons through this review they are merely hints. LEGEND's sound is hard to pin down they do seemed to have forged their own distinct character over the years. I can see this appealing to a broad church of music lovers, from those who like Nightwish and Within Temptation, to those who enjoy the more progressive sound of Renaissance and Tull, even fans of Rush will admire the musical complexity. The musicianship is superb throughout and the voice of Beck Sian is a crowning glory! Lyrically the words are poetically beautiful in their own right, dealing with themes of emotional challenges that forge the spirit within in each of us. I feel anybody could identify something of meaning within them. Highly recommended it is on my playlist daily!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best albums this year, 27 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Spirit (Audio CD)
The fifth album from this English band who sounds like nobody else. A truly original band.

I became aware of this rather obscure band, who for some reason I don't really understand is described as a neo prog band, through their excellent 2011 album Cardinal Points. An album that blew my head away and it did not take me long time to purchase Spirit too.

A rather inspired choice as it turned out. Due to some unspent Amazon credits, it only cost me two quid anyway. The mother of all bargains. I was smirking like a cat who had just caught and eaten a finch.

Spirit is a bit different from Cardinal Points again. At first glance, make that first listening session, the band sounds like they have gone gothic rock with female vocals & co. In Beck Sian, the band has one of the best vocalists in the scene. Her vocals is very Kate Bush'ish at times. Her range is so big that she can quickly move from one expression to another. In her voice, Legend has something that can only be described as a battle ship among canoes. She easy goes into my top five best female vocalists ever. That among the likes of Kate Bush, Sandy Denny and Annie Haslam.
Her voice is also pretty theatrical at times and reminds me about Christian Deschamps in Ange.

Legend and this album is not only about her. The theatrical and operatic music reminds me about Ange and that French theatrical symph prog scene. What at first glance comes across as gothic is in fact theatrical symphonic prog. While that was the dominant scene in France, England just across the water has not had many of those bands. From the top of my head, Legend is the only band I can remember in this scene.

Hence.... Spirit is really an opera. Not like one of those concept albums the likes of Ayreon and others release without using operatic vocals who covers all vocal ranges. Spirit is a REAL rock opera where Beck Sian and the rest of the band covers all bases. Besides of their sound sometimes being really majestic big, the band also knows how to undress the soundscape and become more pastoral minimalistic. Spirit is an album where darkness follows light, where the grandeur soundscapes sometimes gives way to more pastoral simplicity. That is where the strength is and that makes Spirit a pretty unusual album.

It also makes Spirit a great album. Beck Sian's excellent vocals is already mentioned. The rest of the band also shows up with some great guitars and keyboards runs. This supported by great bass and drums hooks.
The melodies are also great and the mix of shade and light is a great asset to this album.

Spirit is one of the best albums this year and is highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It 's the best one for them ., 15 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Spirit (Audio CD)
Spirit , worths every day I was waiting for the delivering to Rio de Janeiro , and every I had paid for this neo-prog jewell .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interestin, 7 Feb 2014
By 
Fireball 61 (Moray, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spirit (MP3 Download)
Orchestral vocals and rocks back music, interesting blend. This is to me unique in its portrayal and thats what makes it well worth listening to. The female vocals are quite enthralling as is the musical fusions.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful vocals, 26 Mar 2014
This review is from: Spirit (Audio CD)
This would have been a good album anyway but the effortless vocal skills of Beck Sian make it a great one. Immense ...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Legend Spirit, 1 Dec 2013
By 
Ms. T. Swain "Miss T Swain" (Shropshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Spirit (MP3 Download)
You don't know me I am the lass that designed Jon Kershaws Bizarre Tales CD package and a friend of his of some years. Recently through him I have become a friend of Beck Sians whose vocal talents I have considered to be some of the best I have heard in many moons. This has just escalated to why the hell is she not headlining with Nightwish after Tarja? On hearing the operatic masterpiece of Spirit. I have now heard it twice over and it has moved me to beyond anything you could ever comprehend for it might just as well be written about my life and where I am and have been for some time. Lying in the bath and drifting in and out of the music and feelings it had welling up in me I confess I wandered to other realms, other times and long distant memories so on getting out the bath and cooling down being somewhat shaken I have slowly gone through the lyrics. Whoever wrote them must have a window in to my very soul. I truly cannot express the emotions your music and words have welled up in me. Other than to say as soon as I can afford it I will be buying your entire back catalogue for I am that impressed and I rarely am with music being the fussiest girl on the planet and having worked in the industry being somewhat jaded with the starstrucks.

You have hit so many nerves and emotions today with this piece I am going to be reeling for some time. All I can say is thank you for if it were not for people like you understanding and feeling the need to convey such raw emotion out through words and music souls like me may be lost forever.
Truly I am weak with the power your Spirit has over me. Blessed am I for the friendship of such a vocalist to bring such magic to me.
May the brightest of blessings be upon you all for such power and presence and light you bring forth.

The artwork of the CD is astounding the production tight professional and mind blowingly perfect. I had not idea what to expect of this performance I was not expecting to be carried off this planet and into another dimension. Truly I am still shaking from what I have just experienced and I sincerely hope you will believe me when I say this! That really rarely happens.

With heartfelt thanks and tears of love and light
Tracey
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Spirit by Legend
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