Legendry has never sounded more committed to their swords and sorcery aesthetic than they do on their third full-length album, The Wizard and the Tower Keep. This attitude is easily attributable to it being the Pittsburgh trio’s first full-fledged concept album, but even outside the narrative, the music is considerably more balanced. A wider pool of influences is explored with even greater depth and nuance than this time around, seemingly out to let the world know that there’s more to this album than mere Manilla Road worship.
While the band has never been shy about their folk prog tinges, they’ve never been as seamlessly integrated as they are on here. This is demonstrated quite early on with “The Bard’s Tale,” which sets up the album’s storytelling tone in an appropriately (though perhaps gimmicky) minstrel fashion. The title track uses these influences most effectively as the mellotron and somber refrain give the otherwise conventional clean/heavy structure some tasteful prog flavor. “Sorcery’s Bane” is another standout, matching the acoustic strums with pounding rhythms and building gallops.
There’s still plenty of room for heaviness, but even that isn’t quite as straightforward as one would expect. “Vindicator” is a fun blast of American power metal that looks to be repeated on “The Lost Road” before that track loses itself to a 70s rock freak-out midway through. The album’s two tracks also set up some fun contrasts as “Behind the Summoner’s Seal” features what may be the thrashiest riff set while the near eleven-minute “Earthwarrior” opts for a more grounded lurch complete with a climax of narrative-friendly reprisals.
Through it all, the musicianship shows considerable tightness though preserving the trio’s more niche tendencies. The arrangements are fuller, and each instrument stands out in the mix, but the production still has a grainy overcast. The guitar tone is also raw without forsaking the melodicism and quirky wah effects, the drums are tight but could stand to be punchier, and the vocals show more confidence though are still limited to a workman range. Part of me wonders if how this would’ve sounded with more polished production and commanding vocals, but nothing sounds out of place as is.
Overall, Legendry has really come into their own with The Wizard and the Tower Keep. The band’s traditional metal and classic prog influences remain at the forefront, but the more dynamic songwriting expresses these elements in an otherworldly fashion that is enhanced by the conceptual theming. The band may not be the most accessible metal revivalists out there, but this is easily their best work so far. Strongly recommended for those who fancy an old school fantasy metal adventure.
“The Wizard and the Tower Keep”
“The Lost Road”