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Death - Human CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.16 | 383 ratings

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The Pessimist
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Well the true progressive era of Death's career really started here. Before on Spiritual Healing you could see Chuck's experimental side shining through a lot more, but on Human his songwriting abilities were really solidified. Although one of their truly prog metal albums, this is by far the heaviest they ever got in the 90s, and for that reason alone it can honestly be labelled as PURE progressive death metal. It's evil, it's brutal, it's technical and above all it is very innovative, and I can see why it is the second highest rated album of theirs on the Archives.

But aside from my flattering introduction to the work, it does have a few downsides. For starters, although Chuck knows where he is going with the songs, he hasn't quite perfected his art here. This is evident in the odd incoherence here and there, an example would be in Suicide Machine where he changes key a little TOO abruptly in the chorus. Again, you can hear in Cosmic Sea that the producer has obviously tried to cover up the fact that it is really two songs under one title with some strange and eerie effects. This I don't particularly agree with, but then again, so many people see this as not a flaw at all. Other than these very subtle faults, I thoroughly enjoyed this album.

Now onto the actual tracks:

Flattening of Emotion - The album kicks off gently with a short faded in drum solo from the fantastic Sean Reinert, and we are brought into a brutal death metal onslaught after some melodic guitar riffing (introducing us immediately to the albums progressive nature). There is a lot of tremolo picking in this track (as with most of the tracks on here for that matter) and this is a very headbanging song that will leave most prog metal fans satisfied.

Suicide Machine - A good track despite my criticism above. Some awesome riffs lie inside this tune alongside typical high quality drumming from Reinert and catchy guitar lines. Tempo changes are especially notable on Suicide Machine, but overall this contributes very nicely to the general atmosphere of the album. I won't build anymore on its slight incoherence as the track doesn't deserve it.

Together As One - A drum intro brings us into another brutal songpacked with low pitched tremolo picking gallore and we get a first glimps at their technical prowessat around the 2 minute mark. Very nice indeed! This kind of time shift is quite abundant in Death's latter discography, and it's good to see some evolution in their style. Paul Masdival actually stated that this was his favourite track off the album in an interview with Metalstorm, so you can expect a good track.

Secret Face - This one opens with the technicality of the previous song, and is considerably slower than the rest. We are however treated with a funky triple time riff and one of Chuck's better guitar solos and some next to amazing guitar work from Masdival. Not much to add that hasn't been done on the previous tracks, so I'll just repeat that it adds to the album beautifully.

Lack Of Comprehension - The most interesting song off the album and probably my favourite, Lack Of Comprehension opens in the manner of the later Destiny off Individual Thought Patterns and the legendary Empty Words. This is the first time Chuck has tried this approach to a song in their entire discography so besides being a completely flawless song, it is also historic. Please listen for yourself, this is one of Death's best pieces and it is by far my favourite off Human.

See Through Dreams - Contrary to the previous song, this one goes straight into death metal mode. It is brilliant. I'm not going to talk much about this track because it pretty much reflects the style of its predecessors. Another great song, with an even better melodic solo from both guitarists.

Cosmic Sea - The most experimental, progressive and pretentious song here, you guys on ProgArchives are going to love this one. Melodic instrumental prog metal that I quite like and most Death fans love. The only problem that I have with it (and it is a big problem) is that it's actually two songs. It's frustrating because it shows that Chuck isn't really himself and he's trying TOO HARD to be progressive. Then again, both songs are amazing and deserve credit, but the concept of it spoils the album for me. Sorry.

Vacant Planets concludes the album off with one of Reinert's best drum performances in and out of Cynic, and this one even compares to his wonderful performance in Cynic's How Could I. So if you are a drummer, listen to this track, even if you don't like the band. Now that that is out of the way, I will say now that this has some really advanced syncopated offbeat usage I've ever heard from Death and one of the fastest guitar rundowns I've also ever heard from them. It's also really nice to finally hear Schuldiner and Masdival shred it out, the two metal titans that they are. A lot here to listen out for, so I think it closes the album fantastically.

In conclusion, this is one of the most brutal, technically impressive and monumental prog albums out there. It is the perfect hybrid of prog and death metal, and is an important purchase for any extreme prog metal fan and a good purchase for... well, any progressive music fan really. It signals an evolutionary period for prog and is one of the very first prog metal albums, so I wouldn't discourage anyone to go out and buy this. 4 stars, not a masterpiece, but almost there if it weren't for it's subtle flaws.

The Pessimist | 4/5 |


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