LEGEND – Cardinal Points (2011)

LEGEND - Cardinal Points (2011)

LEGEND is a great neo-prog band from UK that has been together since 1988, releasing 3 acclaimed albums during the nineties.
Now, after almost a 15 year hiatus, they’re back with a few line-up changes.
“Cardinal Points” is billed as a concept album exploring the 4 points of the compass and their relationships to the elements of western mysticism; Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
The four epic tracks are linked together by the sounds of wind and thunder, and the album is designed to be listened to as a complete entity rather than the collection of individual songs which made up the band’s previous works.

“Carved In Stone” opens with a snatch of birdsong, before the drums, new vocalist Kerry Parker, and finally the rest of the band join in. The track builds slowly, alternating between the stripped back sound we heard at the start, and the band in full flight.
The new female vocalist Kerry Parker has a very deep range, somehow mysterious and intriguing.
Each track is written around one of the four elements, track two is called “Whisper On The Wind” and starts with just the sound of the bass (and the wind).
It is quite an up-tempo track for the first 2 and a half minutes, then it slows right down into an atmospheric instrumental section with a slightly Eastern flavour to it until Dave Foster gives his guitar a bit of a workout and the tempo picks right up again.

“Spark To A Flame” is probably the most complex track on the album, certainly regarding its ever-shifting time signatures, and it contains a beautiful ethereal mid-section where drums are absent altogether.
We are treated to some wonderful organ sounds here before some brief chanting lead us back into a repeat of the song’s main lyric, and finally to an amazing, brillant full-on instrumental ending.
“Drop In The Ocean” is another track with ever changing moods and nuances, this one above all others gives Kerry the chance to show what a fine voice she has. The vocal parts are slow and deliberate, and she sings them beautifully.
There is a quiet acoustic interlude with just a guitar and a synthesized flute, and a full symphonic ending.

Legend Mark1 were regarded as a neo prog band, but their new sound to me is something much more than this.
The Tony Banks-ish keyboard leads and the driving guitars are still present, but also some pagan-folk and symph elements are thrown into the mix, many changes in tempo within the songs, some magnificent purely instrumental sections in each of the four tracks, and Kerry’s appealing, excellent vocals.
“Cardinal Points” is pure prog, but not boring at all. It is the wonderful variety within each song which helps maintain interest throughout, and allows these quite long compositions to work so well.
This album deserves to be listened, and I hope the band enjoy some long-overdue success in the progressive world.

01 – Carved In Stone (Earth)
02 – Whisper On The Wind (Air)
03 – Spark To A Flame (Fire)
04 – Drop In The Ocean (Water)

Kerry Parker: Vocals
Steve Paine: Keyboards
Dave Foster: Guitars
Dan Nelson: Bass
John Macklin: Drums


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