|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Eonian||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2010||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 14||Rating: No Quote|
|Running Time: 56:24|
There’s an argument to be made that the best bands do not always get signed. And such is the case with Legacy, a five piece Columbus, Ohio based act that despite showing significant talent and promise got overlooked in the burgeoning eighties Christian metal scene. The group was founded in late 1987 by bassist John Rice, guitarist Matt Rice and drummer Matt Reedy prior to recruiting a second guitarist, Fred Blanchard, and vocalist Doug Meacham. After rounding out its line up when John Jenkins replaced Matt Reedy, this band of “born again mousse-abuse mavericks” (as described in its press material) settled upon the moniker Legacy.
Legacy proved a very active live act in its short life, having opened for Rez Band, Shout, Sacred Warrior, Mylon LeFevre and Allies in addition to taking second place in the new talent stage at Cornerstone 1989 (XALT won but many felt Legacy deserved the nod). Of particular note, Legacy went on to win the battle of the bands competition at the renowned heavy metal club Alrosa Villa in the winter of 1989.
Legacy also spent enough time in the studio to demo 14 tracks, with two of the better, “Cross The Line” and “What A World”, finding their way onto the Christian metal compilations Heavy Righteous Metal - Chapter II (1989) and Brave New Music (1991) respectively.
The bands demo material, of course, had been out of print and hard to find for years; the good news, however, is that in the spring of 2010 Eonian Records re-mastered and re-issued Legacy’ 14 song back catalog. It must be noted the quality of the packaging to the re-issue, featuring eye catching album artwork, retro band photos and detailed liner notes. Production also stands out with a sound surprisingly crisp and clean for demos recorded using late eighties technology.
Musically, Legacy can best be described as eighties influenced melodic metal and hard rock. As a matter of fact, I am going to make this as simple as possible. If you like any of the following bands then there is an excellent chance you will also like Legacy: Stryper, Shout, Guardian, Holy Soldier, Angelica, Eternal Ryte, Soldier, Whitecross and Neon Cross.
What stands out about Legacy is how it brings every bit as much musical ability as those previously referenced groups.
It all starts with the vocal talents of Doug Meacham, who showcases a clean mid-ranged style that hints at Ken Redding (His Witness) but when he goes for a high note Michael Sweet (Stryper) comes to mind. Matt Rice and Fred Blanchard, at the same time, form a killer guitar team. The best way to describe their playing would be to combine equal parts David Zaffiro (Bloodgood), Oz Fox (Stryper), Tony Palacios (Guardian) and Rick Hunter (Soldier) and then boil everything down to create their own distinct style. Yes, they are that good, as is aptly demonstrated in the accomplished lead work gracing “Soldier’s Unite”, “One Way Or Another” and “Salvation Is Law”. Some of the mega tight harmonies and melodies they lay down are every bit as notable (sort of like Stryper).
Now, it is important to keep in mind that when dealing with a band as young as Legacy you are going to have some inconsistencies; hence, the presence of a few filler tracks out of the fourteen. The likes of “Forever In Your Arms” (polished semi-ballad), “Change Of A Broken Heart” (mid-tempo rocker) and “Live It” (acoustic laced piece), in my opinion, lack the energy, edge and bite and big hooks of the better material here. A fourth, the patriotic metal piece “Red, White, And Blue”, is “on the bubble” in that while far from bad – it has a pretty decent melody – drags a bit in being carried out to six minutes.
That said, when factoring in the ten remaining you are left with a solid group of songs that if recorded with capable production values would form the foundation of an album that would easily score in the 80% to 85% range. Let’s take a closer look at them:
“Salvation Is Law” is a very classy opener. The song starts acoustically before kicking into a full bore rocker as a defined rhythm guitar gives way to a high pitched falsetto. A melodic setting prevails the rest of the way, faint hints of the emotional conveyed as a subtly catchy chorus joins with the bands tight as they get guitar harmonies in abundance.
“It’s Real” starts to a driving instrumental opening upheld by some spicy lead guitar. The song settles down upon acquiring its first verse, slowly maneuvering ahead until picking up in pace for a lively chorus upheld by refined backing vocals. In the end I cannot help but be reminded of First Watch era Guardian.
Legacy is at its best when it rocks hard and “Cross The Line” is no exception. This one finds the rhythm guitar playing a leading role but also proves surprisingly melodic with its infectious upbeat tempo and another chorus driven by a big dose of backing vocals. The songs instrumental moments also shine as a bass guitar solo gives way to a hard hitting guitar riff.
Energetic hard rock would be the best way to describe “Don’t Run Away”. Hooks you will find in abundance while the momentum driven guitar harmonies prove every bit as catchy. As a matter of fact, Matt Rice and Fred Blanchard are really in top form here. If in doubt, then check out the flashy lead guitar run at just past the halfway point.
“Comin’ Along” brings a dark and weighty feel. A bottom heavy monster, the song presides with its down tuned guitar flavorings and nothing less than a perfectly executed chorus approaching the anthem-like. Instrumentally, a brazen stretch of soloing decelerates to an acoustic based passage.
Things return to an up-tempo direction with “Soldiers Unite”. What we have here is a spirited piece that will immediately pull you in with its catchy proclivity and unrelenting impetus. The instrumental break featuring a big bass line followed by a fluid lead guitar outburst sounds as if taken off Impellitteri’s Answer To The Master.
The melodic hard rock of “One Way Or The Other” delivers another does of gripping hooks but also an element of muscle with its every bit as profound guitar flavorings. Of particular note, I swear I can hear Ken Tamplin in the backing vocals supporting the songs chorus. Rice and Blanchard again head in shred-o-matic lead guitar territory.
“What A World” rivals “Cross The Line” as Legacy’s heaviest, the song storming its distance – the momentum here is furious – in showcasing an energy driven chorus and proclivity born of fire. Holy Hell era Rob Rock comes to mind in the process.
“Model Citizen” is my favorite from Legacy. Upon first listen I thought it was filler but with repeated play this one came to life with its laid back – almost bluesy – propensities. I particularly enjoy how the guitar and rhythm section trade off throughout the songs distance while the bands profound vocal melodies again make their presence felt. When things taper to a spoken word interlude with a minute left, I am once more reminded of Guardian.
“Vision Of Perfection” brings some interesting contrasts, ranging from driving guitar outbursts to guitar harmonies heading in a more melodic direction. Taking a mid-paced heading, the song shines with its smoothly flowing chorus and some over the top falsettos from Meacham (the guy really has a great range to his voice).
While lyrics do not come with the packaging, Legacy covers tops ranging from the need for a Savior, the prodigal son, metal praise themes, spiritual warfare and practicing what you preach. In other words, the group leaves little doubt as to where it is coming from.
At just the point when Legacy was about to sign with a major Christian label things started to unravel for the band. Both Matt Rice and Fred Blanchard departed and before new musicians could be recruited the musical climate took a “grungy” turn for the worse, leaving the groups remaining members no other option but to go their separate ways.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Salvation Is Law” (4:46), “It’s Real” (3:42), “Cross The Line” (3:30), “Forever In Your Arms” (4:15), “Don’t Run Away” (3:30), “Red, White, And Blue” (6:00), “Change Of A Broken Heart” (2:55), “Comin’ Home” (4:28), “Soldiers Unite” (3:47), “One Way Or The Other” (3:26), “Live It” (4:05), “What A World” (2:50), “Model Citizen” (4:39), “Vision Of Perfection” (4:00)
Doug Meacham – Lead Vocals
Matt Rice – Guitars
Fred Blanchard – Guitars
John Rice – Bass
John Jenkins - Drums