I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Forgotten Legacy—"The Oracle"
Release Date: March 2020 via Stormspell Records
Genre: Traditional heavy/power metal
Tracks: 10 Run Time: 57:19
It's well documented that heavy metal boasts some of the most loyal fans of any musical style. It also tends to breed some of the most fanatical collectors. No matter what subgenre of metal they're into, the die-hard collectors are never truly "finished"—there's always one more hard to find album or demo tape out there to complete a discography, or one more forgotten, obscure band to discover. The true-metal experts of Stormspell Records know this fanaticism well, and they regularly feed their audience's addiction to the arcane and obscure by reissuing long-lost metal gems from days gone by. Their latest retro offering, The Oracle, by Forgotten Legacy, is sure to find an appreciative audience among fans of traditional American power metal who may have missed it the first time around.
So Who the Heck Was Forgotten Legacy, Anyway?
Forgotten Legacy was not a familiar name to me, but a quick Google search revealed that they hailed from Kingston, Pennsylvania and only released one five-track demo CD, The Oracle, in 2009 before splitting up four years later. This disc was apparently so underground that its print run was limited to a mere 100 CD-R copies! Since Forgotten Legacy's dissolution, drummer John Jesuele and bassist Chuck Donahue carried on in the Scranton, Penn. based metal band Beyond Fallen, and Jesuele also jams with Timeless Haunt (whose debut EP was also recently released by Stormspell).
This spiffy new re-issue of The Oracle contains the original five track demo, plus five bonus cuts taken from pre-production tapes from a never-completed debut LP. Now pumped up to full album length, The Oracle is a solid slab of USPM (that's "U.S. Power Metal," in case you're not up to date on your metal acronyms) which is sure to please fans of Iced Earth, Jag Panzer, and vintage Queensryche, to name just a few.
The majestic "2012" kicks things off in sturdy all-men-play-on-ten fashion, with lyrics that tie into the Mayan prophecy/end-of-the-world craze that everyone was so obsessed with in the early '00s (remember that?). Mike Johnson's speedy guitar meshes nicely with the authoritative vocals of Joel Wood, who easily handles high-end screams ala Geoff Tate as well as lower-register, oh-so-metal gritty snarls. At times his delivery reminds me of Tim "Ripper" Owens in particular. "Rage" ups the tempo and adds a hint of speed metal crunch to the mix, and "Cimmerian" is a true metal warrior anthem designed to get fists in the air and heads banging. "The Darkness" rumbles along at a pleasantly doomy pace and leads into the six-minute-plus Queensryche-ian epic "Forgotten Legacy," which brings the original demo tracks to a close.
The five "bonus tracks" that close out this disc (featuring guitarist Allen "Robot" Van Wert, who replaced Mike Johnson) pick up right where the songs from The Oracle demo left off, melodic-but-crunchy metal full of high-octane riffing and soaring vocals. The bonuses are all solid stuff, but my favorites would probably be the Judas Priest-esque "Night Terror" and "This Is Metal," a thunderous call to arms for headbangers everywhere to unite (Manowar would be proud!). Actually, it's almost hard to believe that these songs came from a batch of "pre-production" tapes, because they're extremely high quality and sound more professional than some legit album releases I've heard over the years. By the time the CD ended with a re-recording of "2012" I was bummed that these guys didn't keep it together long enough to complete a full album, because they definitely had the goods.
Summing It Up
Forgotten Legacy may have flown under my radar during their first go-round in the early 2010s, but they definitely would have been right up my alley back then. At least I'm on board now... hey, better late than never, right?
Stormspell has released another winner here. Labels like these deserve props for the hard work they put in uncovering these lost jewels so they have another chance to reach the hungry metal masses. Thanks to this deluxe reissue, Stormspell has ensured that Forgotten Legacy will not be forgotten.
© 2020 Keith Abt