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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Album Review: Of Legends - Stranded

Of Legends mix the rampant technical tomfoolery of Strapping Young Lad with the mathematical, bass-heavy polyrhythms of Meshuggah and throw it deep into the kind of roiling 'core tempest that bands like Oceano or Whitechapel get swept up in. They are the side-project of Luis Dubuc. Yes, that's Luis Dubuc, the electro-pop wizard, founder of one-man band The Secret Handshake (which he announced as defunct towards the end of last year). How he jumped from one absolute pole to the other in one vast leap is astounding. Not just because of the audacity of such a move, but that he's managed to produce something as utterly convincing as this. He's pulled in a little help from none-other than Travis Orbin (Periphery, Sky Eats Airplane) on drums but the rest of the parts are, inevitably, performed by his good self.

Not surprisingly the interest of Ben Weinman (Dillinger Escape Plan's guitarist) and Tim Smith (Atreyu, HORSE the band and Norma Jean's manager) was piqued and they are now co-managing the band which, according to the cover bumph, appears to have become a quintet with Elliot Coleman now on bass and Zack Ordway and Jacob Belcher coming in on guitar. However many they are, they have clearly enough clout behind them now to make a lasting impression.

'Stranded', their debut album, will feature twelve tracks when it finally drops in March (two more than this promo release has) and all the signs point to it being a monster. It is, essentially, an epic display of Orbin's drumming prowess and, when that ability is fed into this colossal series of body slams it leaves you feeling utterly breathless. Highlights are the scraping guitar licks and elongated open, whammied chords that litter 'Cannibal King', the donkey kick battering that the drums of 'Death Eyes' give you, and the phenomenal two-minute electro machine-gun blitzed husk that the venomous 'Consecro' snake resides in.

The vocal delivery, being nothing more than a piercing, mono-pitched lughole scraper, does tend to make one track seep into another but, thankfully, the lyrics behind the screaming banshee do a good job of identifying each track for you. Off-the-wall lines like "Stay above the water and try not to sink" (from 'Consecro') are telling, but it's the full-'Ziltoid' lunacy of "It's just the humans, they do tend to scatter" (from 'Nothing Matters') and, in particular, "OH MY GOD, we've got to keep on fighting to save the humans" (from 'Save The Humans') that shows off the extent of Dubuc's desire to emulate Devin Townsend. The day he starts sporting a skullet is the day we'll know for sure just how fanboy he is.

You simply have to ignore the writing and production inaccuracies. Ignore the obnoxious click on the drum kick-pedal (particularly noticeable on 'False God's bare double-kicked intro), ignore the lifeless smack of the snare, ignore the fact that the electronic sample fills and effects keep the album from feeling truly organic. Especially ignore the final abruptly-cut caterwauling reverb effect on 'The Last Legend' (the full-length album should leave you with a more suitable lasting impression). You have to ignore all these things because you just must admire what Dubuc has achieved here in such a short space of time and marvel at what this band could potentially become. If this man can keep his wandering mind on this one project for awhile we might see Of Legends become legends themselves.

Also online @ MTUK = http://www.metalteamuk.net/jan11reviews/cdreviews-ol.htm

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