He Is Legend is a southern rock band from Wilmington, North Carolina. Formed by original members Schuylar Croom (singer), Adam Tanbouz (guitarist), and Matt Williams (bassist), the band has had multiple lineup changes while maintaining a uniquely heavy yet dynamic sound. First coming to prominence in the post-hardcore scene after the release of their debut in 2004, I Am Hollywood, the band would release three more albums before their 2017 album few. This album was crowd-funded by fans in 2015 and released after much anticipation since the band is not signed to a label after having been treated badly by their former representation. Though considered a relatively underground band, He Is Legend has cultivated a strong fan following and is cited as an influence for many of their contemporaries.
The Story and the Songs:
He Is Legend likes to carry lyrical and musical motifs through their songs, and one of the most favored among fans is the China White series. Every album they have released has a song dedicated to the story with the first three having “China White” in the title and the last two being alluded to in the lyrics. The first “China White” is off of the band’s post-hardcore debut, I Am Hollywood, and tells the story of a gardener who warns his employers about their plants. It is a lumbering song that sets up lyrical motifs that follow in the rest of the series and ends with a cliffhanger of Croom’s guttural cries. From Suck Out the Poison, “Opening” is a short intro track to “China White II”, and serves much like a musical curtain opening to begin a play. “China White II” tells the story of the family’s murder by the gardener whose hands now have roses growing from them. The song is from the perspective of his victims before switching over to the gardener in his rampage. Easily the heaviest entry in the series, “China White II” contains the most growling and evokes the tension of a horror film. 2009’s It Hates You brought the trilogy to a close with “China White III.” Taking a left turn from the hardcore sentiments of the previous entries, “China White III” is a bluesy lament from the gardener to his garden calling for rain and his beloved plants.
Many fans believed that to be the end of the China White series before the title track of 2014’s Heavy Fruit was revealed by the singer to be a fourth entry. “Heavy Fruit” brings to mind the spring and promises of the garden’s fruit, taking another tonal shift from its predecessor. The gardener is hopeful here for the return of his love, but despite the upbeat tempo of the song, it ends on a note of uncertainty. The final song in the China White series is “The Garden” from 2017’s few. Starting off with an extended breakdown before launching into a hypnotic guitar riff, “The Garden” details the return of the eponymous and sinister garden as it comes for the gardener. The tone here is much more malevolent as the garden turns on its keeper in a shifting and skirting song that includes an intense guitar solo by Dustie Waring from Between the Buried and Me at the end. “The Garden” brings the series full circle as a malevolent force takes over that which helped it.
The China White series is a favorite among fans and the next entry is highly anticipated with each new He Is Legend release. What is truly interesting is to listen to the songs in order and hear the shifts in dynamic and song-craft for each song as the band matured. The series spans 13 years and each part ties nicely into the others to create a cohesive narrative within these songs across albums.
Please enjoy some song recommendations, a song from the album, and check out the band’s social media accounts below!
Song recommendations: “China White” , “China White III” , “The Garden”