Band Website: www.stevepaine.org
Label: Independent Release
Release Date: 2009
Itís hard to believe but itís been 13 years since the last CD from Legend. That was Triple Aspect in 1996 and a lot has happened in the world since then. But fans should take heart that the band are very much back in form and to tease us for their upcoming new CD of original material (to be called Cardinal Points) the band have delivered an anthology disc entitled Ritual Echo with nine representative tracks that span their time together. Whatís really nice is that all the tracks have been digitally restored and remastered. Six of the tracks are studio recordings while three are captured live. Legend for the purposes of this disc includes members from various incarnations of the band.
The music of Legend has many sonic touch points and yet manages to retain a high degree of originality. Throughout the disc I hear bits of Marillionís early style, a bit of Rush, some Renaissance, a bit of Michael Oldfield and so forth. Right off the top Debbie Chapmanís vocals to my ear bear a strong resemblance at times to the style made popular by Annie Haslam. Rather than presenting a strong and perhaps overpowering approach, Chapmanís style is softer and even a bit operatic at times. But what stands out the most is the pleasing tonal quality of her vocal approach. Most of these compositions are on the longish side, six to eight minutes at least with a couple over twelve. The studio tracks hold the most interest for me with some great keyboard and guitar interplay. The keyboards have lots of neat sawtooth sounds and the guitar is always on the verge of shredding but never quite going over the top. The live tracks tend to be the weakest sound wise and thatís simply the nature of the beast given the time they were recorded. Still from a composition stand point the music of Legend is full of musical dynamics. These tunes start and stop, changing time and tempo all over the place. There are plenty of grand symphonic moments that provide wonderful counterpoint to the more subdued or atmospheric moments. And throughout there are many moments where they have the chance to rock.
Fans of the bandís mentioned; or if you enjoyed these songs when they first came out, will I think want to bring themselves up to date with these new versions. I didnít find the studio tracks in the least bit dated. Legend have a great sound and the performance is rock solid. Ritual Echo is a very enjoyable refresher and certainly bodes well for the new material planned for release later this year. I for one am anxiously looking forward to it. Great stuff.