Like a rightly-aged bottle of whiskey, Wilmington, North Carolina’s rock force, He Is Legend, has only gotten better with time. They continue to surprise and dazzle with each new album, and this fact remains ever true with their sixth full-length album White Bat. After a five-year hiatus between It Hates You and Heavy Fruit, He Is Legend topped themselves with 2017’s few, a record that saw the band reinventing themselves and truly coming into their own all at once. He Is Legend has carried a distinguishable sound all their own throughout their career, but with few and now White Bat, they’re at last getting the recognition they’ve long deserved—and frankly, it’s about time.
A quick burst of dissonance kicks things off with the album’s title track, a three minute, 27-second rager that succinctly defines He Is Legend without giving away all the other tricks up their sleeves. That really is the beauty of this band—they don’t just capture the spirit of rock n’ roll; they flip it on its head and completely redefine it. The raucous “Burn All Your Rock Records” is a prime example of this, the southern swagger of which may convince the listener to take the song’s rather ironic title literally; as will the chunky swing and shuffle of “Bent,” or the earworm riffs and chorus of “Resister, Resist Her.”
Simply put, White Bat is the perfect culmination of He Is Legend’s career up to this point. Not only is it their catchiest and most cohesive record to date, but it also captures the raw energy of the band better than their past records have. Anybody who’s seen He Is Legend live knows that they bring it 110% every night, and each one of these songs—from the head-bobbing riffs of “Eye Teeth” to the booty-shaking grooves of “Boogiewoman”— feel like they were written for the stage.
New drummer Jesse Shelley fits right into the band like a glove, while the mainstays—vocalist Schuylar Croom, bassist Matt Williams, and guitar-freak Adam Tanbouz—remain at the very top of their game. Croom’s raspy croon could swoon even the stingiest of non-believers, while Tanbouz continues to channel his inner Dimebag with squealing leads like the ones found on “Talking Stalker” and stay in a league all his own with his 10-ton hands. Tone hunters and riff addicts, pay attention.
After landing recent tours opening for Sevendust and The Damned Things as well as great headlining treks of their own, it would appear the trajectory of He Is Legend is on an upward trend.White Bat will inevitably push these North Carolina boys into the stratosphere of the modern rock scene, where they so rightly belong. He Is Legend—legends, indeed.