Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sad Legend - The Revenge of Soul (2009)

You could infer from the album's title that this was some sort of post-mortem Motown record, but in fact it's the sophomore full length from a South Korean black metal band. Sad Legend performs a symphonic, accessible style of black with strange dual vocals that combine a black rasp with a clean male voice that ranges from folkish and soaring to an occasional higher pitch.

That this is the studio work of one Naamah (a session drummer for Oathean) is impressive; the production is comparable with many bigger budget gothic/black metal albums from Europe. There is also just something 'exotic', something different about the writing. "Axe" is an atmospheric, moody track which takes a strange turn with its vocals. The clean vocals hit a high during the chorus which at first feels silly, but grows on you. "Maruta" opens with a glorious charge, practically power metal, before the snarling vocals drag it back down into the abyss. Like most tracks on the album, the 'symphonic' element is really a synth which is excellently mixed to provide an added layer of depth to the melodic, dark riffing. "Executioner" starts with a chugging buildup, but transforms into a melodic, slow track akin to gothic doom metal. "Elegy of Slaughter Echoing in the East" is in fact elegaic, using clean vocals to create another soaring atmosphere. The rest of the album is much in the same vein, though I'd have to say "The Rrasper's Song" is my favorite on the album.

The Revenge of Soul has a pretty top flight, polished mix; the keyboards shine without ever dominating the guitars or vocals. Despite its heavy gothic influences and the clean vocals, it never feels too cheesy or cheap. I can't sing too many accolades for the album, as I didn't find all the material very catchy. Many of the songs have a similar effect, which mirrors the band's name: sorrow-filled, lamenting yet basking in glorious light. Sad Legend is not unpleasant to listen to, but more of the songs could use memorable hooks.

Verdict: Indifference [6.5/10]

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