Legendry (Interview)

Legendry is an epic traditional metal band from the United States, which hearkens back to the glory days of Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, and Omen. Having already been in contact with guitarist/vocalist Vidarr after covering his black/heavy metal band Defeat in the zine, I was eager to discuss Legendry and publish this long overdue interview. You can read my review for the Legendry demo and full length album here: http://www.barbarianskull.com/wp/reviews/legendry-iniation-rituals-mists-of-time-reviews/

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  • Greetings and thanks for taking the time to answer this interview with Barbarian Skull! Please tell us about the history of Legendry, what does the band’s name mean to you?

Thank you for the opportunity!

Legendry came from jam sessions between me and former bassist, Choo.  We had originally gotten together with the thought of forming a live band using the material from my solo project, Defeat.  We began working through the songs, and found that we were writing a lot of interesting music, so we decided to develop a new band and concept.  Choo introduced me to Kicker, who became our drummer, and it all went in the current direction.  My original thought was to start a kind of first-wave black metal band in the style of Hellhammer, but my growing interest in bands like Manilla Road soon took center stage in the writing process.

Coming up with an original band name these days is a difficult thing, most new bands having to resort to the unpronounceable or multiple word band names in order to differentiate themselves.  I searched and brainstormed for quite some time, turning up the name Sky Burial (which became the title of the instrumental jam on our Initiation Rituals demo).  This name was found to have been taken by what I can guess is a hardcore post-rock outfit of sorts, so I reluctantly searched on.  At the time I was reading a lot of Robert E. Howard Conan stories, and in his essay, “The Hyborian Age” (which the song, “Winds of Hyboria” is based on), I came across the word “legendry”, and it stuck.  The name, of course, refers to a collection of legends, which is exactly what our albums can be called.

  • Traditional Metal is one of the least common ‘subgenres’ for new bands to adopt today, what appeals to you most about pure heavy metal?

The level of honesty in true heavy metal of the late 70s and early 80s is one of its most appealing qualities.  There are countless undiscovered gems of NWOBHM and weird one-album bands that you might find on LP or cassette in the dusty basements of real record stores; these are what I’m after.  I have a fascination with these artifacts; these bands are long gone, in most cases.  I won’t ever see them live, but the music they recorded will always be there.

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Apart from the appeal of capturing moments in time, the atmosphere is something appealing about these albums.  Both in lyrical subject matter and in the production/recording techniques used to capture the performance.  Often, the lyrical themes revolve around medieval fantasy, and the most enduring bands achieve a sense of that fantasy atmosphere with only the use of guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, without relying on keyboards or any obvious sound effects.  Bands like Brocas Helm are extremely medieval sounding, yet they only incorporate the traditional metal instruments.

  • Legendry creates epic atmosphere like the old masters, such as Omen, Cirith Ungol, and Manilla Road. The United States has a long history of playing traditional metal in this style. Does this have any significance to you or your creative process? Do the American bands influence you more than European bands do?

We try to achieve an old-school sound in our production, paying very little attention to what might be considered “modern” or “good” metal production (loud mixes, clicky bass drums, pitch correction are not tools I will be using any time soon!).  The old masters, as you put it, have a huge influence on what we are doing.  The American heavy/power metal bands have an aggressive quality in their performance that can be found to be lacking in some European bands of the same genre (especially once you get into the 90s and 00s power metal bands).  Don’t get me wrong though, geography has little to do with it in most cases, its more style and intent.

  • Your first demo Initiation Rituals was released on tape via Haftvad Records, how did you land a deal with Haftvad? What was your experience dealing with this underground label?

Actually, I contacted them after seeing that they distribute Barbarian Skull, and it went from there.  They were very enthusiastic about the material, and very helpful/professional through the whole process.  I think the finished release looks and sounds great.17389250_430317757309969_3923002488243411475_o

  • The first Legendry song is ‘Phoenix on the Blade’; a song based on the first published Conan the Cimmerian story by the mighty Robert E. Howard. What other authors do you take influence from? Why does Conan make the perfect subject for metal songs?

So far, I have avoided using many of the obvious choices for literary subject matter, a major one being Tolkien, as well as references to Viking Age history and legend.  At this point, Howard is the only author I have referenced, the rest of our songs deal with original subject matter and loose concepts.

Conan is a symbol of barbarism, which Howard considers the natural state of man:  barbarism is depicted as a symbol of freedom and honesty, while civilization, its opposite, is depicted as a symbol of slavery and wicked dishonesty.  Metal, as barbarism in this context, embodies freedom of expression, and has an animalistic power which appeals to its fans.  In addition to being stylistically related, the Conan stories work very well for songs because they are short stories:  they can be reasonably condensed into a few verses for a song.

  • Your first full length album ‘Mists of Time’ has been released by Non Nobis Productions. Tell us more about the creation of this album. What exactly are the ‘mists of time’? How has the album been received thus far?

Just before recording the album, our bassist, Choo, left the band.  We had been preparing to play shows, and this turn of events caused us to look to recording an album while looking for a replacement.  Choo rejoined for a short time, but we have found a more permanent replacement.

The album was created in my home studio.  While I am using a DAW (digital audio workstation) to track instruments, we have done everything possible to capture analog sounds from analog gear.  As far as the actual production of the album goes, we used a variety of instruments and experimental setups; we even had congas and a doumbek for the intro to “Attack of the Necromancer” and I recorded some sword sound effects for “Phoenix on the Blade” using some historical swords from my collection.  Another strange effect we captured was the sound of wind (or mists) using a wah pedal and a distortion box.

The song “Mists of Time” tells the medieval fantasy story of an unnamed protagonist who is called forth to slay a demon who stalks a labyrinth beneath a city. The mists of time refer to the hazy recollections of legend which tell of the warrior who will ultimately defeat this ancient demon.

The album has received a positive response, overall, and has gotten several positive reviews.

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  • The ‘Mists of Time’ album artwork is very impressive and deserves to be printed on a LP jacket! Any chance of this album being released on vinyl?

Thank you!  The original is oil on canvas, 48”X24”, quite a large piece, intended as gatefold LP artwork.  We had originally planned to do an LP release, but as of right now at least, there are no plans to do a vinyl release of Mists of Time (maybe sometime in the future!).

I have begun work on the cover painting for our next album recently.  I cannot reveal the scenario depicted, but I will say that the faceless barbarian has returned to this album cover.  We haven’t come up with a name for him yet, but he has become basically the “Eddie” of Legendry, and will probably be on every album cover from here on out.

  • Your first cover song ‘Necropolis’ by Manilla Road was featured on the Mists of Time album. Of all of the songs in Manilla Road’s extensive discography, why did you choose this one? Do you plan on doing more covers in the future?

It is in many ways an obvious choice to cover “Necropolis”, but that is also the intention.  “Necropolis” was the first Manilla Road song that I heard, and many other people could probably say the same, I’m sure.  Hearing Manilla Road for the first time changed essentially my entire musical direction and covering one of their songs is a tribute to the band.  In the future, we will definitely include more covers; many of my favorite metal albums have cover songs on them and I like that tradition.

Where Mists of Time had more of an obvious choice for a cover song, our follow-up album will have a rather obscure cover track called “Sword of Zeus” by The Lords of the Crimson Alliance.  For those readers unaware, LotCA is a band who released one album and essentially disappeared, no band photos, stage names, no shows, nothing, quite a mystery.  There are actually no lyrics printed or available for the album, so I had to decipher and re-write some of the lyrics myself!

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  • Has Legendry been able to perform any live shows? One thing I noticed from your Facebook page is that your main guitar is a classic Fender Strat with single coil pickups, are you willing to discuss your gear setup for any gearheads reading this?

Having finally stabilized our lineup, we are organizing some shows in the Pittsburgh, PA area, and will be playing at the Legions of Metal Festival in Chicago in May alongside some really great bands, some of which I’ve listened to for many years (Armored Saint, Ross the Boss, Diamond Head, Brocas Helm, and so on!).

We use a lot of vintage gear in general, and certainly favor anything analog. The guitar I play is an American Standard Fender Strat, through a vintage Musicman 210 tube amp and 212 RH cabinet. I use the neck pick-up, as opposed to the bridge pick-up, which is the one you “should” use when playing metal.  This is a blues rig, so naturally it will bring a different tone to the guitars, which I find to be something unique to our sound.  The only effects I use are wah pedal, vintage analog chorus, vintage analog flanger, and a distortion box.  Our new bassist is also using my 70s Fender Tele bass.  This setup is what gives Legendry that “round” guitar sound; we’ve often joked that we could record a blues album.

  • What can we expect from Legendry in the future?

We have been working on the follow-up to Mists of Time for the last several months.  I don’t want to reveal any specific details about this album, but you can expect a much greater 70s prog influence on this album, improved production values, and some other surprising elements.

  • Thanks for taking the time to answer this interview! Any last words are yours.

Thank you, and all the fans who have reached out to us over the last year! We are only getting started, and can’t wait for you all to hear the new music we’ve been working on!