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HUMAN

Death

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.18 | 257 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Human' - Death (6/10)

While I gather that my opinion may garner some heat from other metalheads, Death still seems to be falling short with some aspects of their delivery in what is generally considered their seminal masterpiece, 1991's 'Human.' Since 'Scream Bloody Gore,' each album from this well-known Florida metal act has developed upon the sound of the previous release, constantly building the sound of Death towards an ever more technical and complex style of playing. While 'Human' was the band's most technical and lyrically profound work to date, the songwriting itself doesn't seem to have evolved beyond such albums as 'Leprosy.' That being said, 'Human' was their best record yet, although it would be soon trumped by such works as 'Symbolic' and 'The Sound Of Perseverance.'

While typically labelled as being 'death metal,' the music on 'Human' (and much of Death's other work) is best described as a death/thrash crossover, with some progressive inclinations. The music revolves around the guitar talents and distinct howl of Chuck Schuldiner, and a very riff-based, fast-paced approach to metal. While it shares alot of the same sound of past Death albums, there is a tighter performance here, in no small thanks due to the fact that Chuck Schuldiner would finally start employing some fitting backing musicians for this album. With such musicians featured here like Paul Masvidal (of Cynic fame), the musicians here are evidently much more capable of playing on technical par with Schuldiner, making 'Human' feel like a more fleshed out band effort than before. As first witnessed in 'Leprosy,' Chuck was dabbling with increasingly spiritual and philosophical themes over the graphically violent topics that defined the debut. With such areas as euthanasia ('Suicide Machine') and intolerance ('Together As One') being discussed, Schuldiner is more ambitious with his lyric work than most death metal acts, and 'Human' represents the thus-far peak of the profundity.

With all of these merits having been said, what makes 'Human' no big leap over any of the previous albums is the songwriting itself. Schuldiner seems to still be using the same structures in his music as he did with 'Leprosy' and 'Spiritual Healing,' and the only difference in musical quality is really the way it is performed by the band. Barring that, the only tracks that really seem to distinguish themselves in their ambition are 'Lack Of Comprehension' and the instrumental 'Cosmic Sea,' which while both experiencing the same muddy production quality as the rest of the album, throw in some mellow moments to give some added dynamic.

While 'Human' has obviously blown away many a metal fan since being released, I have yet to be impressed by Death's classic fourth album, and while the noticeable developments are welcome, it would take another album or two for Chuck and company to really start striking gold, in my books.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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