He Is Legend – Endless Hallway Review

In one of the many instances where I found myself agreeing with good ol’ Dr. Fisting, his coverage of He Is Legends 2014 outing Heavy Fruit helped me fill my basket with a not quite this, not quite that, but just-what-the-doctor-ordered dose of eclectic rock wonder. And, a few years later, their 2017 outing Few struck me even harder, cranking up the modern djent influence without being another band slinging procedurally generated polyrhythms against mechanical beats. Though He Is Legend may have started as a better than average 00s post-hardcore experiment with a propensity to lay down a bluesy, soulful lick every now and again, their modern trajectory—2019’s White Bat not excluded—has seen this gracefully aging act dig deeper into thicker tones, bigger riffs, and a couple extra life experiences to naturally evolve their sound. So, with three more years tucked under their belt, has Endless Hallway unlocked any new doors for He Is Legend?

In their post-reunion era He Is Legend has displayed plenty of music on the sonically heavy side. Endless Hallway carves new levels of emotional vitriol in their catalog. If you’ve followed any news surrounding this band, particularly surrounding vocalist Schuylar Croom’s health, you know that there’s a reality out there where this record never happened. Particularly in the time surrounding the recording of this album—that same time period where, for many, plenty of other worries reared their ugly heads—Croom had been battling some sort of ailment made more complicated by his lifelong complications from Type 1 Diabetes. I’ve never been in that situation myself, but it sounds like a bad time all around; a bad time that seems to have also informed many lyrical themes throughout Endless Hallway, particularly the titular track and beyond.

As is par for the course, He Is Legend builds Endless Hallway with influences smashed from all corners of their guitar-based enjoyment, making sure to unite it all with big choruses and bigger hooks. Over the years, Croom—informed by age, wisdom, and curiosity—has grown into vocals that feature extra scruffy flavors, showing shades of a City of Evil era M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold). Furious rompers like the Footloose for 90s rock radio “Sink Hole” or Extremely twang-forward “Animals” feature Croom’s cleanest and crowd-friendly choruses that habitually intercept my “hum zone.” The relentlessly djent early track “Lifeless Lemonade,” in all its drop-tuned and pick-scraped glory, highlights Croom experimenting with pitch-shifting—though not the most novel use of the trick, the playfulness helps offset the hammy “whoa oh whoa oh” yelps that follow. And as the album comes to a close, the boys close in on what is likely the heaviest breakdown in their career, complete with Croom distilling into “Lord Slug” all his rage into a handful of impacting, shredded barks.

Endless Hallway doesn’t run particularly long, cutting at a cool 48 minutes, but the rapid-fire delivery of these pocket-size bangers can feel a bit much at times. While songs like the aforementioned closer and “Lifeless Lemonade” feel like complete explorations, many other tracks, in spite of their strong ideas, fizzle out shortly after a wonky bridge. “Seamistress,” for example, has one of my favorite melodic lines, recalling the neoclassical flair of The Human Abstract in a stripped-down format, but gets unceremoniously settled by an ascension of “Yah Yah Yah Yah Yah Yah.” And while “Sour” follows in that same tricky, arpeggiated vein, it too tapers out anticlimactically with a basic reprisal. I’m not asking for guitarist Adam Tanbouz to write me a symphony of shred, but a little more heroics would make me a happier Dolph, and I know he’s capable—check the lone solo on “Animals.”

Still, a good rock album can go a long way, and this aquatic being is a sucker for a twisted bluesy tune. Endless Hallway may not be entirely the best of what He Is Legend has to offer, but the strongest of the twelve tunes hit differently than the material they’ve manifested before. I don’t know where this band’s inspiration comes from, but I can always count on them to compile a strange set that wouldn’t work in hands less skilled or adventurous. While I can’t endorse Endless Hallway with a truly glowing mark, I can say that this sometimes alt-rock, sometimes Southern rock, sometimes poppy post-hardcore, sometimes almost metal band deserves some of your time. Don’t be worried if you sing along too.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Spinefarm Records
Website: facebook.com/HeIsLegendNC1
Releases Worldwide: November 11th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Check much of their back catalog here.
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