Sad Legend’s final album The Revenge of Soul from 2009 is quite a triumph. It features ridiculously atmospheric sections and vocals to die for! Naamah who composed all the tracks has a skill to slow down and bring cinematic pinnacles in sections where you would not expect them.
If Sad Legend were melodic black metal at one point The Revenge of Soul is gothic metal and power metal and also quite symphonic and wistful. Black metal is only present in the raspy growled vocal style.
It is indeed a Sad Legend that the main man Naamah seems to have broken up the band and has not released anything since The Revenge of Soul (according to Discogs and Metal-archives).
Oh the vocals!
The best part of the album is the thick atmosphere and the vocals. The variety of vocal styles is spectacular. Great clean vocals, regular, orchestral and also high-pitched falsetto. The black metallish rasp is something I really enjoy. At best it is also tastefully doubled. I loved the sound of Korean on their EP Searching For The Hope In Utter Darkness (2002, link to my review at the bottom of the text) but in in The Revenge Of Soul the articulation is even better.
But there’s more! The verse vocals on Executioner sound to be recorded with a crappy mic, the singing style is very raspy, a bit hardcore punkish really. On first listen the scratching of the mic got on my nerves. However the raspy sound soon transformed into really enjoyable and for an noisehead the scratches actually add to the elements. Below the raspy there’s also some angelic clean vocal doubling. The high-pitched cleans in some of the songs are a tad silly, but if are even thinking of listening anything even closely related to power metal you gotta have stomach for a bit of overdramatic silliness.
It’s unbelievable how Naamah, better known as a drummer is actually the sole recipient of all this! And every damn instrument as well! Seriously, who is this guy! I noted there’s some female vocals that are unmarked in discogs, so perhaps it is not the only unmarked thing? Who knows.
Thoughts about some of the tracks
Axe, and Executioner are especially solid compositions. The variety between heavy, angelic, fast and punky parts of Executioner is surprising. Sad Legend has a lot of power metal trails and Maruta is mostly from those roots. It’s middle part is one of the key moments of the album with extremely graceful chanting.
Elegy of Slaughter Echoing In The East is at par with Maruta but lacks the big pinnacle. At least it combines four more frigging vocal styles (spoken word, grudge movie like, dramatic symphonic chanting, falsetto)!
The ending trinity is unfortunately not as strong as the first four. Imjin War (power ballad with some female vocals) and The Reaper’s Song (another different clean vocal sound) feature some catchy repeating vocal-phrases which aren’t my thing really. But it’s pretty entertaining to catch oneself trying to sing-along to Korean. The last track Night of the Hunt has the strongest, a bit folkish, cinematic sense to it. A nearly galloping rhythm is followed by a long acoustic interlude, some progressive section switching until the beginning rhythmics kick in again.
I can imagine the album separates people, some people are bound like the more catchy song-writing of the end-album, but I prefer the grandiose beginning.
The masterful vocal performances and thick atmosphere turn the album to an extremely positive release. There’s a sense of uniqueness in it that will make it a regular visitor on my playlists.
Searching For The Hope In Utter Darkness is musically probably a better release, but The Revenge of Soul is at par to it because of its more consistent dynamics, intact atmosphere and better vocals.
Also check my review of their great 2002 EP: https://likemusictoyourears.com/2017/05/01/sad-legend-searching-for-the-hope-in-utter-darkness/
Sad Legend does not seem to have any real presence in the internet, hence I cannot link their site!
For further reading, a rather good in-depth article about the 2nd track, Maruta: http://www.kpopstarz.com/articles/107097/20140904/sad-legend-maruta.htm