Artist: He Is Legend
Album: Suck Out the Poison
Label: Solid State Records
Release Date: October 3, 2006
Review by: Eric Pettersson
After a successful EP on Tribunal Records, Solid State Records felt compelled to respond to the buzz around He Is Legend. Their fall 2004 debut, I Am Hollywood, was a great stretch for the band, giving them what vocalist Schuylar Croom called a very “sassy” sound. Their musical originality and diversity, as well as their incredible ability to balance out spurts of brutal energy with melody and catchy choruses, drew fans of metal, alternative, rock, emo, punk, and hardcore. They had developed quite a fan base, but looking at the change from that first EP to the full album, people should have expected He Is Legend to want to do something new with their next release. They posted “Mushroom River” on their MySpace about a month before the release of Suck Out the Poison, which was met with great disappointment and anger from many fans who said they sounded too nu-metal. Later, Schuylar revealed in an interview with absolutepunk.net that they had released this song first because it was least like the last album, and they enjoyed the partially negative response. Basically, He Is Legend is out there to play some songs and have some fun, and Suck Out the Poison does exactly this.
Thematically, “Dixie Wolf (the Seduction of)” picks up the new album quite literally where the last one started. This is a continuation of their previous single “The Seduction,” continuing to use the names Romeo and Juliet in a metaphor for a failed relationship. Musically, changes are noticed right away. Schuylar’s voice is a little more raw, probably from so much screaming on tours. The guitars seem to have also taken on a new tone which reminds me of P.O.D. or Project 86, circa 2001, but these riffs are still very much He Is Legend. “Attack of the Dungeon Witch” starts off unsure, but after bringing back their signature fast guitar lines and dark fairy tale lyrics, fans can be sure to enjoy this track. When seeing them live, expect some sick pits for the last minute of this one. “Suck Out the Poison” compares a girl to deadly poison, and is my least favorite track on the album as something about the chorus just screams corporate radio classic rock. As stated earlier, “Mushroom River” is probably the song that differs most from I Am Hollywood, as it starts as a more solid hard rock song until the very end when it gets a little harder and the vocals take to a deeper growl. It also features one of my favorite choruses on the album, “I used to be you, and you used to be me. Her body is a drug. That’s why you feel so crazy. We are the things that were and we shall be them again. Although these were all dreams, you will never wake from them.” Up next is a clever and new move for He Is Legend, a minute long piano instrumental titled “Opening.” Another follow up song, “China White II,” is the darkest sounding song here, and also the creepiest lyrically. There’s one line that makes me shudder every time I hear it. The heaviness is continued into “Serpent Sickness” which begs to be let out of someone’s mind, but also says “I’m afraid without you, of the things that I might do.” It ends with the sound of a crowd cheering slowly faded in, working with the drums as a transition to “Electric Throat,” which begins with a very southern guitar flair before launching into the screamed verses and sung choruses, occasionally bringing back the southern influence. “Stampede” is a fast energetic track that pays homage to John Denver by including the lines “Country road, take me home. To the place where I belong.” This song transitions flawlessly into “The Widow of Magnolia,” so much so that sometimes I have to look at my CD player after thirty seconds to realize that a new song had started. This one tells of the despair of a man whose wife drowned at sea. “The Pot Bellied Goddess” is another great short story set to song, following the basic musical approach of the rest of the album. From here we enter another instrumental, “Cannonball Hands (The Tomato Parade),” which mellows things out for a few minutes and is led mostly by the bass and an airy guitar, backed by a spacey keyboard. “Goldie’s Torn Locks” talks about a boy having to deal with his mom leaving and his dad getting drunk. It ends with the line “I am the child who saw everything.” He Is Legend decided again to go all out with the closer, making “(((louds” 8 minutes and 40 seconds long, splitting their sound with a woman singing loudly for a minute or two in the middle.
He Is Legend has successfully grown their sound, while still remaining the same band. Suck Out the Poison leaves a lot of things behind, and picks up a lot of things along the way. In the end, I really can’t say whether it is better than I Am Hollywood, but it is still a great album that will hopefully not lose too many fans while drawing in new ones.