Legend : Limited edition four track single (EP)
(Workshop - 1982)
Category : overlooked
With their self released albums 'Legend' and especially 'Death in the Nursery', Legend (*) had already proven to the NWOBHM-fans that they were a band to watch very closely. But I think it's with this EP that they excelled. Unfortunately even a release this good wasn't enough to lift the band from obscurity. It would even prove to be their last release for decades.
When compared to the two albums, the music on the EP isn't as fast or as aggressive but more elaborate and mature instead. Legend has always had a slightly Progressive side to their music, but on this slab it becomes more apparent. It's still no full-fledged Progrock à la Rush or Yes, but a fine combination of Hard Rock and Prog Rock.
Simply being progressive isn't enough to set yourself apart of course (not even for me). God knows there are enough Prog bands out there that'll bore you to death with their smart compositions and amazing technique. What actually sets Legend apart is the fact that they first of all were good songsmiths who seemed to be getting better all the time. The style they chose to express themselves in at any given moment was of lesser importance. As a Metal band they turned from a merely promising one into one of the best in the genre. They became even better as a Progressive Rock band. And if their next release would've been filled with Soft Rock or whatever, chances are it would've been better still.
What's interesting about Legend is that they know when to tone down their music to achieve result. This is mirrored in the playing style of their gifted guitarist Pete Haworth. He can play those fast Metal solo's if he wants too, but he just as often chooses not too. If you listen to the guitar solo's in 'Stormers of Heaven', but especially in the slow and atmospheric masterpiece 'Sabra & Chatila', it is impossible not to notice the man's mastery of the instrument.
To those who want to hear something of this band, there's good news. This EP, together with a six track demo, is available on an anthology double CD that also contains their 1981 debut album (with the grim Black Sabbath influenced song 'Hiroshima' being the standout track) and the 1982 album 'Death in the Nursery', one of the best releases to ever have come from the 'New Wave of British Heavy Metal' movement.
Footnote: Apparently the band is back together again. Don't know how they sound now(**), but why don't you find that out for yourself: http://www.sinaptik.com/legend.
(* note: be warned that there is a second NWOBHM band called Legend as well)
(** note: I recently managed to listen to a "new" (2003) track of theirs. The song 'Eden Massacre' surprised me, as it's not rooted in NWOBHM, but stands closer to bands like Masters of Reality. It's got a heavy and groovy guitar riff and sounds a lot fuller than their 80's stuff. Mike Lezala's recognisable voice and "flat" singing style has always been one of Legend's strong points, but it seems he feels even better at ease with this new material. I can only think of one minor negative remark, and that's the sound of the snare drum of which I am not too keen. But for the rest, it's a surprisingly good and fresh sounding song that proves Legend can still teach many younger Metal bands a thing or two.)