When one is bitten by a venomous snake, one must suck out the poison. Placing your mouth over the wound, you taste the serum, and save the victim. It’s a vile yet admirable act, much like He Is Legends sophomore effort, Suck Out The Poison. The Wilmington, North Carolina, quintet offers their brand of dirty southern rock this time around, a slight change from 2004’s debut, I Am Hollywood. This time around, guitars rage back and forth with the off-kilter drumbeats, and leadman Schuylar Croom dominates every song with his passionate vocals. They balance between melodic croons and unforgiving screams. While fans of Hollywood may be turned off to the different sound on first listen, it’ll only be a matter of time until they realize that He Is Legend has given us their best work yet.
The album explodes with “Dixie Wolf (The Seduction Of…),” which begins with forceful guitars and leads into Croom’s singing over dueling riffs. The chorus of the song is reminiscent of a classic rock song, until Croom barks out “Rest in pieces!” “Attack Of The Dungeon Witch” begins with staccato drum beats from Steve Bache, and then the guitars go into a whirl, courtesy of Mckenzie Bell (who is no longer in the band) and Adam Tanbouz. Again, Croom has chosen more of a scruffy singing style rather than screaming. “Suck Out The Poison” features a chorus that soars, while “Mushroom River” begins quietly with looming riffs which then bombard your eardrums while Croom sings with flair, commanding your attention. In the final fifty seconds, the song builds up into a bruising breakdown, where guitars crush and screech and Croom pulverizes everything with his ruthless growl. “Opening” is a nice piano interlude that intimately leads you into “China White II,” a dark rocker that goes through many different tempos. Again, the vocals totter between melody and angst, and the final half is especially hard hitting. Croom creepily echoes “I am the noises that you hear when you’re in bed/and I’ll be the last thing you’ll see before you’ll dead” before the music begins to beat you senseless. “Serpent Sickness” is a sick metal track, while “Electronic Throat” takes a page from Every Time I Die’s “The New Black,” a scorching song heavy on southern riffs. “Stampede” roars throughout your membrane, a song that does not hold anything back, and Croom’s vocals once again rip through your body. “The Widow Of Magnolia” begins with a 50 or so second intro that crunches and has a chorus highlighted by gang vocals.
“The Pot Bellied Goddess” continues the overall pace and sound of the album and “Cannonball Hands (The Tomato Parade) is a two minute interlude highlighting Bache’s drum skills. This leads into one of my favorite tracks, “Goldies Torn Locks,” which begins with an anxious guitar riff and militant drums. Croom’s vocals are forceful while the guitars chomp and soar. Lyrically, I love this track, as it takes the perspective of a female, with Croom exclaiming “I am the daughter of eighteen wheelers/the sister of your broken heart.” Croom’s vocals finish off the song with a passion that most cannot match. The final track is the nearly nine minute long opus, titled “(((louds.” It’s a track that takes all the themes from the previous tracks, incorporating brutal guitars, an atmospheric melody, and Croom’s balancing act between singing and screaming his heart out. The highlight of the song is the inclusion of female vocals, which croon after Croom’s vocal gasps. It’s familiar with how Armor For Sleep ended their last album, only this is sonically a lot better. This goes on for about two minutes until Croom owns the final two and half minutes with frenzied screams while the female voice plays the contrast and the music twists and turns. It’s a exultant finish to a stellar closing track and this astonishing album.
I’m not going to lie, I Am Hollywood did nothing for me, I never got into it and because of that it made me shy away from this release. Thanks to some convincing from a few General forum members, I gave it a shot and can honestly say I love this record. Those who know me understand that I’m a fan of a little dirty southern rock, and this record, at times, reminds me of Every Time I Die’s Gutter Phenomenon, which was one of my favorite records of 2005. Schuylar Croom’s vocals and lyrics are what sold me on the album, though. His vocal range on this album is stunning and his abstract writing style gives substance to this record. In my opinion, this is the strongest album to release on Solid State records in 2006, and one of my favorite heavier releases. While some older fans will be disappointed on first listen, I recommend giving it time, reading the lyrics, and appreciating the vocal style, as the music will eventually grow on you. He Is Legend have completely changed my opinion on them with this release, and I feel like this album can bring in some fans who initially wrote them off (like me). Pick this up on Tuesday; Poison has never tasted better.
I gotta agree with you on this one. Suck Out The Poison has that dirty rock feel of Everytime I Die and Maylene and The Sons Of Disaster. And I think that's why I wasn't a fan of this release. I loved I Am Hollywood, it had a jazzy feel mixed with good metal riffs. I thought it was creative and envoked a lot of emotion. But this album didn't do much for me. It just felt like dirty southern heavy rock with no emotion to it. And that's mainly due to the vocals. i guess the constant touring and him not taking care of his voice changed his sound on recording.