Some folks may show interest in this record based purely on the fact that it’s the latest project from one-time Cave In laborer, Adam McGrath. Such was not the case for me, however. I chose to review Legendary Demo because the cover looked neat and I’m interested in Hydra Head Records. In fact, not only have I never heard Cave In, I’ve never actually heard a single metalcore album in its entirety. Possibly a bit strange, but true nonetheless. So, after discovering McGrath’s background, I was admittedly a bit nervous that my (mildly) impressive streak would finally come to an end. Cup your ear to the wind, friends, and you might be able to pick up the faint celebratory shouts from all four of my remaining brain cells, because Clouds has about as much to do with metalcore as it does klezmer.
Less than half of the Legendary Demo playing time is devoted to testicle-kicking rock and roll. That may not sound like much of an accomplishment on the surface, but it’s actually fairly forgivable once you realize the last song is an unbelievably skippable 20-minute jaunt into mind-numbingly insipid dub. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve heard a more unfortunate end to a record since the Supersuckers, “Razzmanazz”, but at least that was funny. Apart from this arrant flub, this record manages to rip and tear with some pretty goll-darned fierce rock & roll.
“New Amnesia” and “Pressure” kick things off with an obvious nod towards classic rip-roarin’ hard rock akin to The Stooges, MC5, Blue Cheer, and any number of other old bands you’d likely see printed on vintage shirts stretched over the scrawniness of your local hipster troupe. Both tunes are loud and gruff, and feature sharp, catchy guitar licks swaddled in a whole mess of hollerin’.
“Live It for Now”, “Party Grunge”, and “Guardian’s Eyes” abandon a bit of the rockin’ element in favor of a more classic grunge sound –– somewhere along the more punkish lines of Louder Than Love, Bleach, and Mudhoney, but mixed with a nice scoop of Hellacopters or even early QOTSA for good measure.
The shining point of the record hits with “Mountain Jim”, a cut that starts off slow, smoky and southern, with an almost Robin Trower flavor before heading off to a fat, greasy romp that’s smothered with McGrath’s strangely Ian Astbury-like crooning in the backdrop. But as mentioned earlier, things plummet after the first minute and a half of the seventh song, “Magic Hater”, and really (ahem) cave in with the terribly stretched, saxophone-soaked “Quartulli Dub”.
Is this record worth floating $10 toward Hydra Head’s direction? Depends on whether or not 16-minutes of brash rock fury seems worth it to you, and also if you’ve got a quick enough trigger-finger to jump up and skip that horrible closer, I’d say.