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4 stars I was waiting to see Death on this site for so long time... And now there is it!! Most people might think that this band is a massive machine of noisy brutal riffs without anything else to show. But they go further than that! This album shows the band moving into styles very atypical in the death-metal genre. Beyond the clever, intelligent and dark Schuldiner lyrics about human nature, tracks like the instrumental metal-jam 'Cosmic Sea' blends since jazz-fusion incursions until space-rock soundscapes that makes the sound very unique and personal. An incredible sense of dynamics, odd times signatures and a lot of dissonant melodies fills each track of the album with a high complexity, making me even think in bands such complexity and dissonance reaches anormal levels as GENTLE GIANT. Steve DiGiorgio fretless bass is quite unusual and fits the band like a snake on the ground. His basslines are so gorgeous and nicely well constructed, that along with the drummer Sean Reinert they sometimes play like a jazz-fusion band with death-metal riffs exploding in every Masvidal´s soaring guitar and Chuck´s guttural vocals. By the way, the experimental sounding on this record is due to the guest appearance of two CYNIC members, Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert. After that, Death begins to explore a more and more adventurous sound, becoming what today we know as Progressive Death Metal in subsequent albums such the classic "Symbolic" and "The Sound of Perseverance". A highly recommend album to all beginners in the band´s music!!
Report this review (#70210)
Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
Trickster F.
4 stars A turning point in the history of Extreme Metal music!

Having released three full length albums, Death, led by the songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Chuck Schuldiner, took a different way of making music, and this choice would later highly change the identity of the genre. This album and what would follow it are often described as Technical Death Metal but personally I believe that Progressive Speed/Extreme Metal would be a more precise definition, if one needs to be given at all costs.

So, what has changed since the previous Spiritual Healing? The music became both more melodic and technical, the musicians participating here were more technically proficient than the ones who had previously played together with Chuck Schuldiner. Moreover, most importantly, a different approach to the composing process has been used and, this time, nobody was afraid to make unusual decisions. As a result, the musicians opened a new lane for future pioneers of the genre.

The album itself has merely two faults. Firstly, the production could have been better. I wouldn't mention this if I could hear Steve DiGiorgio's bass work better. It's a pity that a bassist such as him, who manages to create extraordinary sounds with his fretless in every group he guests, can't be heard properly on this record. Although on one hand, you can hear the great bass solo performed on Cosmic Sea, some short bass parts in other songs of the album, the guitars are put higher into the mix than the bass which is a problem, I'm afraid. Secondly, the album is just criminally short! However, I'm not sure what I would have preferred - shorter songs or repetitive long tracks, which is considered the standard among many of today's Progressive Metal groups. It does its best to sound interesting without repeating the same riffs over and over or getting lost in its own composition, and that's good enough.

The songs, however, are quite similiar to each other, in a positive way. The guitar work is the most excellent among compared to its predecessors, drumming is really good, although I prefer the drumming of Gene Hoglan(Individual Thought Patterns, Symbolic) and Richard Christy(The Sound Of Perseverance). The riffs are diverse all the way and well composed. The tracks worth pointing out are the instrumental Cosmic Sea with soloing of different instruments, including keyboards, Lack Of Comprehension with its intro and the last track Vacant Planets, in which, in my opinion, things get really hot.

It is impossible to say how such a record was made, although one can guess that the presence of two members of Cynic, who would later release the amazing Focus and disband, however, the most important is that this album had place in Progressive Music and changed its history. Knowing its significance, this album is a must-have in anyone's collection. It doesn't matter if you like Progressive Metal or not, this is a masterpiece of Prog and a landmark of the 90's Progmetal.

Highly recommended!

Report this review (#71619)
Posted Saturday, March 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Marc Baum
5 stars The fourth Death album "Human" is a landmark album in extreme music. Mastermind Chuck Schuldiner (R.I.P.) and his technical excellent colleagues Paul Masdival (g.), Steve DiGiorgio (b.) and Sean Reinert (d.) crossed infernalic, brutal death metal with progressive elements 'til their hands were closely about to break. "Human" is not only a turning point in the history of Death but also a huge turning point in the world of the same titled metal sub-genre. Gone were the days as death metal must been played mainly fast. Death were about to reach new dimensions, digged with their scary, atmospheric noise deep inside the human soul until in the far distance visions of hell began to appear.

When I first listened to this album, I was a bit skeptical and more partial to Death's newer material than the older. However, after blasting loud on my player, I was stunned with awe. Then I realized why this album had received such high praise. This was a turning point for Chuck Schuldiner and Death. Human was Death's first effort to deliver speed, technicality, heaviness, and melody...and they succeeded!

It seems Chuck has matured with his lyrics, while his brutal death metal vocals remain the same. The guitar riffs aren't the most complex, but this is still a fairly large step for Death and they still manage to make unique tunes that actually sound good. The guitars have a raw and thick sound with a dosage of melody. Although Steve DiGiorgio is an awesome bassist his bass sounds like total crap in some parts of this album. Listen at around 0:24 into the song "Suicide Machine" and you hear what sounds like a rubber band, but it is supposed to be Steve's bass.

The drumming is rather burly sounding; nice and thick. Sean proves himself a worthy drummer as you listen to the dismal drums which take you into "Flattening of Emotions", as well as "Together As One". Paul shows that he can fill the shoes of metal guitar guru - James Murphy by playing his parts with obvious ease. It sure was nice for the members of Cynic to lend out their two best men. Yet again, Chuck shows that unless the line up is perfect, it doesn't fly.

Human starts of with "Flattening Of Emotions", which right off the bat tells you that you are in for a wild ride. The riffs here are awesome, and Chuck's vocals, as usual, never fail to impress me. A Death classic.

"Suicide Machine" continues right where Flattening Of Emotions left off: kicking your ass with brutal riffage. This song has even more cool riffage and a great vocal section highlighted by Steve DiGiorgio's bass playing. This is one of my favorite songs on the album, and with good reason.

The third song on the album, "Together As One", is very cool with a good lead part and an interesting percussive section. A good song, but it doesn't really stand out from the rest.

"Secret Face" is one of the best Death songs ever, plain and simple. It reminds a lot of Flattening Of Emotions, with even more brutal riffing and bass. Chuck gives a great performance here on vocals. Awesome.

"Lack Of Comprehension" is another one of the best Death songs of all time. EVEN MORE pure powerful riffs are heard here, with a great lead section and good drumming. This is a great song to give someone if they want a good example of intelligent but also pure death metal!

"See Through Dreams" is, in my opinion, where the album starts to get weaker. It is by no means a bad song, it's just not as good as the others. Still a reccomended listen, though.

"Cosmic Sea" is an instrumental, and a very good one at that. The album quickly recovers from See Through Dreams here, and also reveals that the band also has skill in the area of progressive rock/metal. A great piece!

"Vacant Planets", the album's finale, features more great lead work and some of Steve's best riffs on the album, along with some more trademark vocals by Schuldiner.

Most of the songs are fast, with the exception of the beautifully welded instrumental "Cosmic Sea", which sounds like Pink Floyd thrown through a shredding machine and more than makes up for lack of speed with carefully placed rhythm and humming melodies. There is even a quick little bass solo in this instrumental. This is a nice fresh listen - it contains expeditious speed, heaviness, with a nice dab of melody while keeping intelligent and unique lyrics in constant presence. Sad enough, music isn't made like this much these days. This is one of the album I own that I can listen to all the way through without the desire to skip any tracks.

At this point in time, this was a huge step of advancement in Death's existence. I would go as far to say that this album is a classic and should be owned by any and all (progressive) death metal lovers. The next album "Individual Thought Patterns" was the next step in the non-stoppable progression of DEATH metal.

Album rating: 9/10 points = 88 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Report this review (#75517)
Posted Wednesday, April 19, 2006 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I bought this album as a teenager, and I recall I enjoyed the fast and aggressive elements of this music back then. Somehow the album still sounded quite complicated when compared to music other rock groups I listened then, Napalm Death, Carcass, Sepultura etc. As I returned to this record later as an adult, I found it as truly refreshing listening experience. There are lots of very interesting and skillfully played rhythmic ideas on the disc. Also, as I am not particularly a fan of "progressive metal genre", I enjoy this much more as Death's music lacks many annoying elements which I believe are the foundation of that style. There are no relations to neo prog vibes, and the lyrics contemplate about people's social problems instead of mighty dragon slaying warriors. I respect this highly. Most memorable tracks are the opener "Flattening of Emotions", which has some very peculiar different timed drum and guitar parts. Also "Together as One" is a great heavy composition, and the instrumental "Cosmic Sea" is also fine, having the only few seconds of softer playing on the whole album as a contrast. Warmly recommended, if you are not allergic towards aggressive music.
Report this review (#78464)
Posted Wednesday, May 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another great work from Death. Like many of their albums, I enjoy every song on here however some just stand above the rest. Flattening of Emotions, amazing song. I love the drum intro to the song and before you realize, you're thrown into an intense wall of guitar and drums. The riffs for this song are simply spectacular and a pretty good solo to match. Cosmic Sea is very different from the rest of the album. It's slow, instrumental, and filled with weird noises. However, this is definatley one of the best songs of the CD. However, one just blows them all away in my book, Lack of Comprehension. This is my favorite from the album, and one of my favorite songs from the band. A slow jazzy intro, followed by a brutal death metal song. It is technical, but still powerful, has some great riffs and drumming.

Overall, this album is good but outside the top few songs the rest seems to fall together for me. While they are all good, nothing really jumps out at me. The drumming is good, but not the best of Death's work and of course Chuck is amazing on guitar and vocals. While the work is a huge move in a more technical direction it seems still very thrashy to me. However, it is the pivot point in Death's career.

Report this review (#88089)
Posted Thursday, August 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Human is the transition point for Death. Up to this point, Chuck Schuldiner had essentially inked the blueprint for death metal in blood and brain matter. His bloody lyrics had inspired a host of bands hailing from Death's native Florida as well as the frozen countries comprising what is known as Scandanavia. Bands like Carcass stuck to Death's formula while up and comers like Morbid Angel were adding high levels of musicianship and experimentation to the sonic bludgeoning. Not to be outdone, Chuck gave his one-man show another overhaul and added the formidable rythm section of ex-Sadus bassist Steve DiGiorgio and Cynic drummer Sean Reinert. He also hired another guitarist, Paul Masvidal, to augment his own growing technical abilities. He also switched his lyrical preoccupation from schlock horror to the filth of the mind. Fans of Opeth, this is where Mikael Akerfeldt took his cues.

Human is Death's first technical triumph. Scream Bloody Gore is a metal classic, but you'd be committed to an asylum if you dubbed the group progressive. I can't say that Death ever became truly progressive (remember, technical does not equal progressive ). However, I was thrilled to learn they were on PA and wouldn't see them removed for anything. Fans of technical bass and drums should buy this album as soon as you have the funds. Prog metallers who enjoy the heavier and darker end of that sub-genre (Mesuggah, Opeth, Evergrey, etc.) should also pick this up.

There is no filler on this album; Cosmic Sea near jazz-fusion and Vacant Planet standout as extraordinary. Chuck brazenly forges ahead with his musical vision, and the result is another essential slice of underground metal. The production is medicore at best, but it is to be expected for an underground album in the early 90s. I can't call this a prog masterpiece, however, as it is not truly progressive.

PA Grade: B

Metal Grade: A

Report this review (#105474)
Posted Wednesday, January 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars let me first say that this is deaths proggiest album and has the one of the best band lineups ever. The songs are fast and very memorable and there was some INCREDIBLE bass playing and guitar interplay on this album. Five stars thats all i can say.
Report this review (#115086)
Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Death metal classic.

DEATH are one of the most influential metal bands ever and Human is undoubtedly their most influential and important album, they helped create the death metal genre in the late 80's and with this release they would help cement the technical death metal genre pioneered several years earlier. DEATH was pretty much Chuck Schuldiner and he would recruit different musicians for each album, on Human he chose Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert from the technical and heavily jazz influenced band Cynic (and bass guitar god Steve DiGiorgio undoubtedly leading to a more technical approach to the sound.

Human is a very strong album and has no real weak points but it has to be said that the breakneck opening track 'Flattening of emotions' is undoubtedly the best with a mid-paced double kick intro building up and launching into a brutal fast-paced assault, and it gets even better the solo is one of the best on the album, Chuck and Masvidal really show people how metal solos should be with strong fast, technical, well considered and with strong minor and atonal melody - never mindless shred. The real Kudos goes to Sean Reinert on drums though, his drum work is very interesting, where most drummers would play standard metal beats he adds syncopation and even dynamics - there is never a dull moment in his drumming. 'Together as one' is another highlight where Chuck's songwriting comes to the fore with breakneck tempos interspersed with slightly mysterious melody with a brooding main motif.

The songwriting here deserves special attention Chuck is an amazing song writer, every intro, every transition, every solo is very well considered and there is a lot of strong melody in his music (and this is death metal so that's a mean feat), each song just seems so cohesive like it couldn't really be improved and the thing that is most important is that when it needs to the music lightens up slightly and it comes back in with a solo or some fast double kick just when it is needed ('Secret Face' for example).

For death metal fans, Human is an essential album, people who enjoy CYNIC, ATHEIST and PESTILENCE will definitely enjoy.

Report this review (#144763)
Posted Monday, October 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Human" is the 4th full-length studio album by US, Florida based death metal act Death. The album was released through Roadracer/Roadrunner Records in October 1991. Despite the the fact that there are only about 1,5 year between the release of "Spiritual Healing (1990)" and "Human", quite a few things happened in that time. Most notably almost the entire lineup has been changed since the predecessor and only lead vocalist/guitarist Chuck Schuldiner remains. Guitarist James Murphy left after recording "Spiritual Healing (1990)" (to briefly join Obituary and later Cancer) and drummer Bill Andrews and bassist Terry Butler had a serious disagreement with Schuldiner, which meant that the European part of the tour supporting "Spiritual Healing (1990)" (where they supported Kreator), was completed without Schuldiner. After that tour Schuldiner took control of the Death name again and Bill Andrews and Terry Butler left to play with Massacre on the now legendary "From Beyond (1991)" album along side former Death guitarist Rick Rozz and vocalist Kam Lee (who had also played with Schuldiner in the past).

Schuldiner took the opportunity to hand pick exactly the musicians he thought could bring his music to the next level. His choices were bassist Steve DiGiorgio (active in Sadus at the time), drummer Sean Reifert, and guitarist Paul Masvidal. The latter two both from Cynic, who was an active demo band at this point and hadn´t yet released their groundbreaking debut full-length studio album "Focus (1993)".

The new blood in the lineup is heard right from the opening double pedal fade in of "Flattening of Emotions". While the "old" lineup certainly had it´s charm, the technical abilities of the new guys are through the roof. Reifert is nothing short of a brilliant drummer with a powerful technical drumming style. He plays fast, precise, and inventive for the time. His slight fusion influenced playing is adventurous, but not in a manner which takes power away from the music. Instead he understands exactly when to speed up, change rhythm patterns, or play more heavy, to ensure the greatest impact on the listener. Not enough praise can be given to him for his performance on "Human". DiGiorgio is quite an exceptional bassist too, and his fretless work is heard throughout the album. Masvidal compliments Schuldiner with his melodic and very well played guitar solos. Schuldiner himself is also at the top of his game on "Human" delivering fiercely aggressive growling vocals (fully intelligible), thought provoking lyrics, and his signature guitar leads.

All that wouldn´t have mattered much if the material wasn´t as well composed as it is here. The 8 tracks on the 34:01 minutes long album are all strong compositions, featuring memorable vocal/lyric/riff/rhythm hooks and while most tracks are relatively formulaic in structure, they are all distinct sounding and recognisable. The only track on "Human" which sets itself completely apart from the rest is the instrumental "Cosmic Sea", but it still works well in the overall flow of the album. "Human" is a very consistent album in terms of quality and style, and while I can´t help to mention "Flattening of Emotions" and "Lack of Comprehension" as some of the highlights (the band shot a promotional video for the latter), it´s not really fair to the rest of the material on the album, because all tracks are standout high quality material.

"Human" was recorded and mixed by Scott Burns at Morrisound Studios, Tampa, Florida and produced by Scott Burns and Chuck Schuldiner. They´ve managed to create a very powerful sounding album, which is both raw, brutal, detailed, and sophisticated. Almost the same words which can be used to describe the music, so the material and the sound production go perfectly hand and hand. So upon conclusion "Human" is an outstanding death metal release, which strikes the perfect balance between old school brutality and technical adventurous playing. Paired with songwriting which features a rare sense for memorable hooks, "Human" is a high quality release through and through. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#146689)
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 on this one! This is it, the big daddy, the first album where DEATH truly shines. Whilst I like the three ones that preceed it, this is the one that crosses over into prog metal territory. After the whole band on Spiritual Healing had been fired, Chuck hired the services of CYNIC members Paul Masvidal (guitars) and Sean Reinert (drums) along with SADUS fretless bass legend Steve DiGiorgio. The result is an album that fuses the distinctive DEATH style with the technical playing and true progressive structures and approach of CYNIC and ATHEIST. Those two bands were surely big influcenes on Chuck, who wrote 8 songs that get the most out of the musicians and have become known as milestones in progressive death metal.

Each track is relatively short, but the tight playing and complex structures ensure that they are packed with stuff going on. It's never overbearing either, as every dynamic contrast is handled with incredible skill and feels like it should be there. Only Vacant Planets is a tad weaker as it feels like a little less attention has been paid on it, considering the rest of the album feels meticulously worked on to perfection. It also suffers from being the least memorable of a group of songs that all become ingrained in the mind after a while. I feel that is one of the most important characteristics for a death metal album to possess, especially now when the style seems to be slumping into an mire of unoriginality and facelessness once again. Albums like Human will continue to be revered because of their unique qualities, and although there are clear influences from other bands the album has its own unique way of expressing and building on those same ideas. It's hard to pick out a favourite, as all the way up to track 7 each one feels the same in the quality of composition, though the instrumental Cosmic Sea stands out as the most deviant from death metal norms with dark spacey effects woven in throughout the technical playing.

The production is often cited as a weakness of this album and I would agree to a certain extent as it does make listening a bit frustrating. It would be nice if Steve's bass was more apparent as his playing is splendid but tough to hear at points when it should be clear. The rest of it sounds fine for its time, and is yet another good job by renowned Morrisound engineer Scott Burns. If I were to have reviewed this album a few years ago, I wouldn't hesitate in giving it 5 stars. I now see that there are definite flaws here but it remains essential for a prog metal collection and I only don't award it full marks as Chuck's next few albums are even better.

Report this review (#148339)
Posted Wednesday, October 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Death was one of, if not the, most important band in the conception and development of progressive death metal. Human was the real turing point for the group, as mastermind Chuck Schuldiner brought about a completely new lineup and really improved his composing. By all means, this is a a well-crafted and important release, but it is difficult to enjoy. While all of the musicians are top-notch, the music in generally is brutal and relentless, the vocals are grating, and the production is quite terrible. The only melodies are ones produced by a guitar riff, since the vocals are entirely growled, and even those are hardly memorable. There is hardly any variety in the sound (only a few clean sections here, most of it ocurring on the same song, the instrumental "Cosmic Sea"), and it feels like the clean parts are not given a fair amount of development because they aren't given a fair amount of time, but hey that's death metal for you. And talk about "Flattening of Emotions!" They really do here. The music seems to lack some emotional depth as a result of such a flattening; at the same time, the band really does stay true to its name. This is quite death-like in sound and scope.

But again, the complexity and performance values of this music were practically underheard of at the time and leagues beyond the standards of the genre. Big kudos to Chuck & co. for the effort, but frankly with all of the amazing new material that is being released today, as music is constantly progressing and elaborating on older ideas, it seems like the only reason to listen to this is to pay homage to its importance.

While over the next two albums Death's sound didn't really evolve, the writing continued to improve and so did the production. I would look to one of the following records for a more rewarding listen.

Report this review (#150748)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the most important albums in death history

With Human Death reaches a new level in both, manner of composing and manner of playing delivering a solid death album with prog leanings. Death are one of the most influential metal bands ever, and Human prove it to be a continuation of Spiritual healing but more experimental and more progressive in every way so i could say that Human is Death's first technical triumph. Not very much to add, but if are in this kind of music don't hesitate to listen, because kick ass. Absolute every piece is a winner delivering some stunning moments like Flattening of Emotions, Lack of Comprehension and Vacant planets, the best from here, the rest are also very strong. A true metal album, 4 star for sure, recommended.

Report this review (#165224)
Posted Friday, March 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars In a time when progressive metal was still consolidating itself and death metal was still a baby, Chuck Schuldiner was already breaking barriers and revolutionizing the death metal, which he created.

This album is a very interesting and unique one. It is the beginning of the glorious progressive era of Death, it is a BIG turning point for progressive metal in general, specially for the heavier side of the force, because it represents the creation of another level of both progressive metal and death metal, completely revolutionizing the musical scene just by itself. To put this very simply and plainly, Human is both a classic and a quintessential album. so, if you find yourself anywhere near extreme metal / prog metal or even think about listening something about it, begin by listening this album.

This particular album right here was my first contact with extreme metal and extreme progressive metal and i have to say: from day one until now this album still amazes me. It has the unique quality of true masterpieces that is to never get old nor tiresome.

About the songs, musicianship and other features there are some thing i would like to state:

Musically, this album is a step or maybe even a jump forward for Chuck. Nothing that he ever done before had reached this level of complexity and what is even more amazing is the fact that Chuck was a self-taught player and composer with zero musical formal knowledge whatsoever. He basically, in his head, invented the music he composed. Of course, he truly invented nothing, as everything he invented already existed, but was never used as he used.

Each song follow a basic script: with guitars consisting of a broken rhythm fast riffing in odd time signatures usually made by Chuck, a very competent solo guitar, also in odd time signatures, bass playing technically complex and out of this world and drums that blast hard and crazy, complementing the music to make it well rounded and complete. In fact, the main instruments here are the riffing guitar and the furious drums.We can clearly see here that, in the short space of time of four years, Chuck immensely improved his playing abilities, as well as his ability and creativity to compose.

To this day another thing that incredibly amazes me is how it can be possible someone go from something like Spiritual Healing to Human, in the matters of musical complexity, technicality, quality and basically everything else there's to point in music. The evolution shown here is so drastic that its hard to believe that this is the same person.

Grade and final Thoughts:

I don't think that there is anything else more important to mention about this album, so i will be as painful as possible in this final part of my review. Human putted together musical brilliancy, quality, amazing playing, revolutionary music in only one short album. No matter what others may say, this album rocks and deserves the top grade for all its qualities and thats it. Class dismissed.

Report this review (#172622)
Posted Friday, May 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The beginning of the end.

When Chuck Schulinder first founded Mantas, which later changed its name to Death, death metal was still in its infancy. The band started out with typical death metal themes, especially what people often refer to as "gore lyrics". By the band's third release, the lyrical themes started to become more serious and intelligent, and the music continued to grow more and more technical and complex. By the time Human was released in 1991, Death was already starting to become a well-known name in the metal community, especially with death metal. However, Human is no longer straight-up technical death metal. This was the first album where Schulinder ended writing death metal and began writing progressive death metal. This is incredibly complex music, led by the furious guitar playing of Schulinder, probably one of the best musicians in the last 25 years of music, and Paul Masvidal, who would later become known of Cynic fame. Besides being incredibly complex music, this is also fairly heavy music, probably heavier than most proggers could stand. However, don't necessarily let the heaviness and/or vocals scare you away. The instrumentation is very well-structured and tight without choking any creativity.

My favorite tracks are Flattening of Emotions and Cosmic Sea. Flattening of Emotions opens with a very complex drum build-up before racing guitars and vocals come in. Cosmic Sea is the only instrumental track on this album that is both haunting and very atmospheric. The name of the track says a lot about what it sounds like. At the time this came out, it was incredibly original and something that hadn't been done before. Quite honestly I think this album has aged very well. People who like complex, yet fresh and original music should pick this up eventually. Along with The Sound of Perseverance, this is probably my favorite Death album. However, I'm only giving it 4 stars for the purposes of this site. While this is a very good album, someone new to Death will probably want to start with one of their last two releases, Symbolic or The Sound of Perseverance.

Report this review (#199321)
Posted Friday, January 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars If you play Death Metal and you hire three prog rock musicians, you get albums like Human.

Although still brutal vocals and music, Human comes with an........ ehh..... human touch. The three prog rock musicians put their prog label on the music and the only death musician in this incarnation of Death put his Death Metal label on his part (vocals and some guitars). Unfortunate; most people only listen to the vocals and the guitars and end up with Death Metal. But listening to the album, the prog rock influences is there. From the melodies to the bass, guitars and drums. I wonder what would had happened if Chuck Schuldiner's vocals was replaced with clean vocals and some of the double bass drums was replaced with more jazzy drums ? An intriguing thought !

Not that the songs needs this clean up. The songs themselves are good. DEATH changed to a more challenging sound and the songs also became a lot more complex than on their two previous albums. Human is a bridge between DEATH's straight forward Death Metal albums and the more complex final albums. The Cosmic Sea track is the best example. I still regard DEATH as a Death Metal Light band, but Human was a welcome step in the right direction. It is a good album and worth checking out.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#202608)
Posted Friday, February 13, 2009 | Review Permalink
The Pessimist
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.

Report this review (#205369)
Posted Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'Human' is the best release from Death... it managed to retain a raw menacing Death Metal sound while expanding the scope of the genre with greater technicality and more complex songwriting than any band of their type before them.

The songs are marked by psychotic timing shifts, intricate yet extremely heavy guitar virtuosity, and frenetic aggression. The band sound genuinely irate and seem to be lashing out at the world with their instruments. Much of this authentically aggressive feeling is missing from Death's later albums; they seemed to be just going through the motions on the over-rated 'Symbolic' and 'Sound of Perseverance' albums... both of which left me feeling cold and unmoved.

...but back to 'Human': this album is bursting with creativity and memorable moments. 'Suicide Machines' and 'Lack of Comprehension' are classics, and among my favorite all-time Death Metal tracks. It's hardly worth doing a track-by-track review, though, because most of the material has a singular sound and feeling.

The album is relentless from beginning to end and tends to blur together, but that's not necessarily a bad thing here. The grim persistence of this band's attack can have a brutal affect on one's psyche, and can even distort reality on repeated listenings... and personally i enjoy this kind of sonic lobotomy.

'Cosmic Sea' may be the most typically Proggy song, and is a stand-out track. Layers of atmospheric and melodic guitars are coupled with Steve DiGiorgio's amazing bass noodling and embellished by spacy synthesizers and effects... very trippy.

This is a must for every Death Metal collection, and most Extreme Prog Metal fans should love this.

Report this review (#207122)
Posted Saturday, March 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars I wasn't sure about this record when this came out and I was rather disappointed with this release. I read everywhere, what a fantastic prog metal album, what an excellent technical stuff, and that jazzy drums.. ah wonderful. I couldn't find it there but one evening I decided to play this record really loud and it got me. Each of the eight songs is simply incredible. The production of this record isn't probably the best I've heard on a Death album but it doesn't matter cos the instrumental precision sets this release on the right track. It's a death metal virtuosity. Tracks like Together As One, Lack Of Comprehension, Secret Face or Cosmic Sea are unforgettable experiences in heavy music. I don't know if it's the best Death album but it deserves 5 stars easily. Death metal taken to the highest level of virtuosity. Highly recommended.
Report this review (#212197)
Posted Thursday, April 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the album where Chuck finally got it right. After three albums of a more straight-forward death metal nature, Death find interesting ways of adding jazz fusion and progressive rock to their sound while still remaining true to their metal roots. And they got a much-needed upgrade in musicians.

Human teams Chuck Schuldiner with fellow guitarist Paul Masvidal and drummer Sean Reinert (both of Cynic), as well as Sadus bassist Steve Digiorgio (though bassist Skott Carino plays on "Cosmic Sea"). This lineup gives Death their best lineup to date, and in my opinion, their best lineup ever.

Most of the tracks on this album as brutally heavy tunes that wouldn't be totally out of place on their previous album, Spiritual Healing. The fact that they've finally got a rhythm section that doesn't sound cold and uninspired is what really gives life to these songs. Reinert's drumming on this album is the most noticeable upgrade in the sound of the band. Chuck's soloing has improved from past albums, and Masvidal's playing is a nice addition to the band (though his predecessor James Murphy was no slouch). The bass playing is much more interesting, although it is a bit quiet at times.

My favorite tracks on this album are "Together as One", "Lack of Comprehension" and the instrumental "Cosmic Sea" (easily the proggiest song on the album). I rarely skip a track when listening to this album. As all songs are between 3 and 5 minutes in length, Human shows that the progressiveness of an album is not necessarily proportional to running length (only at approximately 34 minutes).

This is one progressive death metal album that belongs in a prog fan's collection, as well as a metal album that is a must for metal heads.

Report this review (#214656)
Posted Sunday, May 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars Death married progressive with Symbolic, Human was their first date.

The dense jutting drumming that begins this album sets the pace for this half hour train wreck of technical death metal.

This is where they began implementing jazz breaks and disjointed shifts in a very maddening pace. It comes off very well. Making this one of their most adventurous releases, yet. The angular guitar solos rip and trade, dance and trot, rip and wail.

Each track, even at their relatively very short running time (almost less than four minutes on average per song.) has multiple sections and breaks, disjointed and fiery soloing, and deep complex compositional approach. The drumming is thick and crunching. The entire rhythm section blisteringly ruptures forth with fiery vitriol, as multiple guitars interchange rhythms and leads in fantastic dissections.

Together As One slows it down a bit, but the blood boiling rush is found. True, no song on here will have the same theme all the way through, it is quite choppy and swinging. The furious riffing explodes angrily. Chuck's vocals keep getting more skillfully profound as the years go on, and they reach a fine mid ground, here. They are still regular death metal vocals, and haven't evolved into his brilliant death screech, yet, but they fit the music well, and never offend. Even at his vocally early formulated years, he had the edge on most death vocalists.

Lack Of Comprehension shows the only real break you get so far, from the brutal onslaught, even then it is only half a minute of atmospheric darkness. Afterward, you get hellfire in the shape of rigorous riffing and guitar line wails. Not to mention this song gets damn evilly groovy. I am amazed at Death's ability to groove and strut so defiantly and whimsically.

Cosmic Sea is the lone peak of calm, here. With melodic soaring solo lines, a bass solo, commencing ethereal ravaging. It builds ferociously, until the entire aural sky is blotted out by demonic wails from every direction, your ears will be suffocated, in the albums highlight.

Vacant Planets brings everything back to the vehement death dance, they've so commendably taken up. This brings me to the main criticism I have of the album.

With the massive rapid changes throughout the album, it still seems to not have very much diversity or deviation from their main, although quite complex, mold. Everything is brutal and violent enough, technical to extremes, and the short running time helps this quite a bit, but they ride the same main atmosphere for most of the album. They also haven't mastered their new form of focused chaos, in this stage. For this, Human is the beginning of Death's masterful peak.

Best Moment - Cosmic Sea

Worst Moment - It is all very solid

**** stars

Report this review (#218983)
Posted Saturday, May 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
5 stars Zeal that Chuck Schuldiner spent on this "Death". And, the listener will be able to discover the fact to which he was doing the challenge and the creation to the part of the perfectionism and the music character very by this album. It is not an exaggeration to say that Hajime might be enough exactly establishment of the element of the transition and advancement in the music character that Chuck Schuldiner did for this project and the work of one from this album.

Especially, development of music character seen since middle term of this project and technical element. And, Chuck Schuldiner to establish as one unique part might have exactly had the role of the brain for this project. The musician who was related to the recording in the flow that announced the album was not established. And, the member according to the tour might be a point from the production of the album to have to make a special mention of the fact with changing places indeed. Chuck Schuldiner was made remarks, "It was not given so much by the companion who created music together". As for it, he might give the listener a dictatorial impression. James Murphy of the guitar player who participated in the production of "Spiritual Healing" was made remarks that Chuck Schuldiner and some opinions collided. However, might it be assumed the result if the music character that the flow and this project of the overall situation did is considered and understand Chuck Schuldiner was intellectual and very a perfectionism.

And, the ability of choosing a suitable person that saw through the musician corresponding to the music character created as one of the elements of intellectual that Chuck Schuldiner had further was had both. Fact that tries touching to Allen West active with Obituary as successor of guitar player's Rick Rozz. Of course part of perfect ensemble with James Murphy. And, Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert that participates in this album are created complete and the possibility is pursued. How Chuck Schuldiner always aimed at the development of the highest level and the music character can be considered.

After announcing "Spiritual healing", they dare the tour in the United States. Because James Murphy had left the band during this tour, the band was doing live by three person organization for a while. The band succeeds here in acquiring Paul Masvidal. However, because Paul Masvidal was not able to help the band, the tour in the Europe became impossible. Chuck Schuldiner made the request for Albert Gonzales active with Evil Dead. The event not expected to tried Death that it will dare the tour again visits. Musicians who had had Chuck Schuldiner and relations in the past showed up as a band of the imitation in front of people. Chuck Schuldiner was an event not related at all. Chuck Schuldiner is made remarks that time to heal a mental pain and the stress was necessary. However, it became the result of showing a unique part for the music character of the band this fact and a progressive element and it is likely to have appeared in the content of the album. To always maintain the highest level if necessary without established of a specific sound easy person, all the zeals of tried Chuck Schuldiner might be expressed in the production of this album. The creation concerning the music that Chuck Schuldiner did after that is not a translation at all done to the origin of despotism. Part of challenge and perfect intention. And, a progressive element and it is technological that reflects it in music. These flows might be exactly expressed by this album in complete shape.

"Flattening Of Emotions" starts from the part of fade in with the drum by the rhythm of complete Riff and 6. It rushes into the part of the dash feeling with a complex rhythm from harmony with originality. And, it shifts from Riff of three group notes to the part of the rhythm of fast six. The tension and the continuation of the dash feeling are overwhelming. The repetition of Blast Beat and three group notes that continues the dash feeling is splendid again.

"Suicide Machine" shifts from the rhythm of three to the rhythm of fast six. Heavy Riff continues. And, original harmony is drawn out from the rhythm that puts fast and slow. It is likely to succeed in expanding the impression of the tune by multiusing the part of the melody that Death does that characterizes and looks like the melody of the Middle East. The tune continues the dash feeling and advances. Flow of rhythm of flow and 6 that shifts to rhythm of heavy eight. The composition in which the tempo is freely manipulated might be splendid.

"Together As One" Original harmony progresses getting on fast Blast Beat. The flow that shifts to the rhythm of six has the tension at once. The storm of Riff that develops one after another has a splendid composition. A flow advanced as eight rhythms and six rhythms are multiused has a feeling of security splendidly. And, high-speed Riff has completely decided the impression.

Riff and the rhythm that "Secret Face" is considerably calculated from 3-5-3-7 Riff shine. Part of flow that freely manipulates tempo and multiuses six rhythms and original harmony. Or, the guitar that divides the compass is composed good. The repetition of the melody and the theme to decide continues a good tension.

A fast flood of six group notes overcomes "Lack Of Comprehension" from the melody that fuels uneasiness. The idea that mixes the rest with heavy Riff might be perfect. And, Riff divided from Blast Beat. Solo of the guitar might be also beautiful. Flow of six group notes from complete Blast Beat. The composition is splendid.

"See Through Dreams" has a complete dash feeling from the start. It shifts to six group notes at once and it has heavy earliness of Riff and development. Rhythm that puts fast and slow. And, perfect Riff and ensemble might be perfect.

"Cosmic Sea" continues the melody and the tension of the solemnity and starts. Melody of harmony and unison that flows to steady rhythm in space. Ensemble is overwhelming. The tune accompanies the line of heavy Bass as the sound of the decoration twining. Flow that original guitar Solo twines round steady rhythm. Guitar Solo in close relation to especially six group notes has good atmosphere.

The rhythm that "Vacant Planets" is steady to the melody of the guitar that moves freely twines. And, a complete dash feeling and the tension are continued. The adjustment of intermittent Riff and the tempo is perfect. The melody and the composition in which Spiritual Healing is reminiscent have succeeded, too.

Because Bonus Track is collected to the Japanese version that I own, a postscript is added.

"God Of Thunder" is a tune of Kiss. Declaredly that Chuck Schuldiner was a fan of Kiss from young time. It might have the element of the session done by the process of the production of this album. However, the tune is done very faithfully. The individuality of Death might be exactly reflected in the tune. Famous Riff and the melody are performed by heavy atmosphere. The flow with good Solo of the guitar and steady rhythm is produced.

Technology, advancement, and zeal that Chuck Schuldiner exactly thinks about. And, it tries to music and the level is maintained. The masterpiece that advocates one establishment to the history of various Metal is here.

Report this review (#262040)
Posted Friday, January 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Death metal for humans...

One of the things I like about "Human" is that it is way more complex and innovative than its predecessors, and the level of proficiency and exececution much higher - yet it has one of the most brutal sound productions I have ever heard - especially the distortion of the guitars which has a lot of bottom and just enough edge to prevent the sounds from becoming messy, is so brutal the when the guitar riff kicks in on the first track "Flattening of Emotions", it is almost scary. The downside is that the bass is almost inaudible at times (without ever reaching the ridiculous state of the Metallica's otherwise great album "...And Justice for All".

With Cynic musicians Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert as well as bass wizard Steve DiGiorgio in the line-up, Schuldiner finally cooperated with musicians who were at his own level of proficiency (or perhaps even above his level of proficiency at the time - Masvidal has described the songs on "Human" as easy to play compared to Cynic's material). I certainly do think that its was through working with musicians like these that Chuck Schuldiner finally realized the musical vision that is weakly evident on "Leprosy" and more so on "Spiritual Healing".

In terms of compositional complexity and dynamics, the level is more or less the same as on "Spiritual Healing" (well, porbably a bit higher), but the level of musical ability and awareness from the band is so much higher than it would be unfair to "Spiritual Healing" to even start comparing them. It's the fact that the musicians are now able to execute Schuldiner's ideas, I think, which has cause "Human" to be considered the conception of technical/progressive exterme metal. I tend to agree. I think that "Human" is a truly progressive album, because in addition to the complex and dynamic compositions, it allows for the showcasing of musical prowess, and it really propels Schuldiner off on his ever more progressive journey through music.

Highlights are "Flattening of Emotions", "Suicide Machine", "Lack of Comprehension" and the fusion-jazzy "Cosmic Sea".

"Human", I think, is the first of four consecutive progressive/technical death metal masterpieces, and I recommend it to any fan of technical death metal and progressive metal. I think that even more open-minded traditional progheads might appreciate it.

Report this review (#273148)
Posted Saturday, March 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Chuck Schuldiner surrounded himself with an entirely different cast of musicians for this album. And what an upgrade it is! While the music isn't different from a compositional point of view, the technical dexterity of this band raises the bar considerably. I wouldn't call it progressive, but they sure enter a playground here frequented by the prog kids on the block.

The band plays with a fury and passion that blows away the preceding album. The material has become much more technical, introducing non-4/4 time signatures and song structures that veer off in all possible directions. My appreciation of a death metal album stands of falls with on the quality of the vocals. Luckily, with Schuldiner's gruff wail you can be assured of unadulterated pain and craving.

Some short quiet introductions not withstanding, the relentless riff attack is still pure metal and will not please you if you're not into death metal already. Also, just like all modern metal albums it fails to do anything else but repeating the pattern of the opening song over the course of the entire album. These days, I prefer albums with songs that are more distinguishable from one another. But luckily the quality is outstanding throughout.

Classic technical death metal album. 3.5 stars

Report this review (#278280)
Posted Saturday, April 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
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.

Report this review (#353008)
Posted Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's amazing when a band that basically creates its own genre of music decides to create another genre of music. Chuck Schuldiner pretty much created death metal whenever he created Death, and this is the album where he recreated that sound, probably just 'cause he could. Human is the prototypical technical metal album that helped inspire the jazz-death-metal scene of the '90s.

This albums is chock full of technical riffs, beautiful guitar harmonies, super smooth bass, and super powerful drumming, all of which you'd expect from a line-up that contains two names of future Cynic founders. It's very surprising that, even after about 20 years, this album still sets such a high standard for death metal. The songs on this album all progress through only a few passages each, but have a definite progressive feel from the time and mood changes coupled with the overall technical ability of the individual members. The only grip I've had about this album is that Steve DiGiorgio's bass doesn't stick out in the mix; it's there, and it's awesome, but the sound quality just isn't all too great. Of course that will change soon enough since Relapse is re-mastering and re-releasing the Death catalog.

Stand out tracks: "Lack of Comprehension", "Cosmic Sea", "Vacant Planet"

One of the original technical death metal albums of the early '90s - Highly recommended.

Report this review (#438266)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Death's 1991 masterpiece, Human, re-wrote the book of death metal. While still maintaining the relentless brutality that made Chuck Schuldiner and co. famous in the first place, the album took death metal into previously unexplored territories and resulted in the most innovative and impressive album Death had created to date. The addition of top-notch musicians into Death's lineup surely helped Chuck Schuldiner expand upon his innovative ideas for this album. The sheer technicality, brutality, and progressiveness of this release was groundbreaking back when Human came out. Even 20 years after its release, Human still remains a revolutionary and highly influential masterpiece - this timeless gem has lost none of its luster through the sands of time. To celebrate the album's twentieth anniversary, Relapse Records has reissued the album fully remastered and repackaged; surely nothing to miss if you're a Death fan. Human is a mandatory purchase for all fans of progressive death metal, and this reissue is the best way to go if you've been living under a rock and still haven't heard this legendary masterwork. I'd even venture to say that the Relapse reissue may be worth a re-purchase for fans of the original album; it really is that good.

With 1990's Spiritual Healing Death began experimenting with progressive song structures, but Human is when Chuck truly took the band to a new level. This album is filled with relentless technicality, complex time signature shifts, killer solos, and plenty of jazzy sections to top it all off. Although not as progressive as the modern interpretation of 'prog death metal', in the context of time, this truly is a revolutionary piece of music. Just listen to the spacey atmosphere in the instrumental 'Cosmic Sea' or the scale-filled solos in 'Vacant Planets'. Not to mention some of the jazzy rhythm sections in songs like 'Suicide Machine', 'Lack of Comprehension', or 'Secret Face'. But regardless of how original and innovative this album was (and still is), the most important part is that it's absolutely kick-ass throughout its entire original 34 minute duration. Expect some of the most well-composed, technically uncompromising death metal ever recorded here.

Human's greatness may be in part (or even mostly) due to the spectacular cast of musicians that Chuck Schuldiner acquired this time around. The lineup consists (obviously) of Chuck Schuldiner on vocals and guitars, Steve DiGiorgio (of Sadus fame) on bass, Paul Masvidal (from Cynic) on guitar, and Sean Reinert (from Cynic) on drums. If that doesn't sound like a legendary lineup, then I'm not sure what does! Schuldiner and Masvidal deliver some of the greatest guitar solos ever recorded here, Reinert's drumming is frantic and technically precise, and the fretless bass work from DiGiorgio is simply legendary. An all-star cast like this one surely deserves their throne at the top of the extreme metal heap.

The production of the original Human was a bit problematic for many listeners, and that's probably the key factor that will lead people to purchasing the Relapse reissue of the album. Steve DiGiorgio's bass playing is much more audible, the drums sound cleaner, and the overall mix is more powerful. I love the original sound of the album as well (I just love that old school production mixed with such insane technicality), but the remaster is clearly superior from a production standpoint. The Relapse reissue also features tons of instrumental bonus material, as well as previously unreleased demo tracks. I don't have a hard copy of the remaster (yet), but the bonus material alone is worthwhile for any fan of the album.

Human is often hailed as one of the finest extreme metal albums ever, and with good reason. Even 20 years after its release, the album remains one of the best and most important masterpieces in the genre. If you like your death metal to be brutal yet extremely technical, progressive, and even melodic, this is an essential purchase. Every self-respecting metal fan has a copy of Human around somewhere, and if not now's the best time to finally check it out. The Relapse Records reissue is truly the best version of this album ever released. With boatloads of bonus material and a sleek new remaster, longtime fans may want to shell out a few bucks to reinvest into this timeless classic. Of course, 5 stars are deserved here. No matter how you package it, Human is a masterpiece and one of the best albums in extreme metal history. Rest in peace, Evil Chuck - the metal world misses you!

Report this review (#459416)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
Post/Math Rock Team
3 stars Death was the influential metal band of late guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Chuck Shuldiner. They were part of the death metal scene in Florida that was associated with producer Scott Burns and his studio. This is the first album of Death I have heard. I was aware of them and had seen the video for "Lack Of Comprehension" but didn't pay much attention to most death metal when it was new. I always thought of death metal as a more brutal and extreme form of thrash but with worse vocals. Chuck's vocals are not typical death growls but more in between yelling and screaming.

This album features two future members of Cynic, whom I like a lot more than Death. This is basically extreme/death metal by the numbers but this band pretty much invented this stuff anyway. There are nonetheless detectable proggy moments here. The proggiest and maybe- not-so-coincidentally best songs are the aforementioned "Lack Of Comprehension," the great instrumental "Cosmic Sea" and "Secret Face." It's not until the fourth song, "Secret Face," that I start hearing anything I would call 'prog'. A lot going on, changes quite a bit. The most interesting song on the album from a compositional point of view. The soloing is really good here as well.

I've always loved the quasi-jazzy beginning of "Lack Of Comprehension"; nice mix of jazzy guitar chords, fretless bass and phased cymbals. The best 30 seconds on the whole album. The rest is good too. "Cosmic Sea" took me totally by surprise. Wasn't expecting something that good and proggy sounding here. It begins segued from the last song...always a good thing. Opens with New Age style synths. I like the synthetic choirs. Features some metal soloing and funky/fusion-y bass playing. Almost sounds Zeuhl(!!!) at one point. Great symphonic metal for awhile. Love the spacey synths in the middle. Towards the end is some cool altered sounds which sound awesome.

The next best song to those three is the opener "Flattening Of Emotions." Apparently, the albums before this are less proggy and the ones after more so. I may have to investigate. I couldn't listen to this kind of music all day in the 1990s and I can't now. I can see why this band and album is much liked by metalheads. It's not the proggiest thing on Earth but there are moments here and there which are usually pretty good. I'll give this a 2.5 and round it up to 3 stars.

Report this review (#478896)
Posted Friday, July 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Having played a part in defining the standard death metal sound with their previous albums, Human saw Death take a more technical approach to their craft, which seems to pay off well. Whilst I wouldn't say it's quite as revolutionary as it's made out to be - Atheist, in particular, had produced two albums of similar or greater technicality prior to it - it's still important for the higher profile it gave to the technical death metal approach, and for the increased level of maturity in both the band's sound and their lyrical subject matter. Most death metal fans will find a lot to enjoy here.
Report this review (#605628)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Images and Words of technical metal!!

This record is a milestone of the genre , the one that all the others should be compared with. Death manages not only to give birth to a subgenre of metal with "Scream Bloddy Gore" but also with the help of Voivod , and Wachtower creates another subgenre: Progressive Extreme Metal.

When analyizing this album , one must look things from a different angle. This is not "progressive" as your average symponic prog or prog metal. Implying that progressivness is achieved here not from structure but from the technical prowness of the musicians involved. The music here is pure metal played in brutal fashion. However , what sets it apart from the previous records from the band is that: the musicians here are real masters of their instruments. Future Cynic's drummer and guitarist play here and they really deliver! Also Steve Di Giorgio's bass can be heard all over this record and Chuck's riff's are more complex than ever before. On top of that , his voice was getting better and better.

The record is really short , barely reaching 33 minutes and there are no tracks that past the 4:30 minute barrier but all tunes are filled with intense playing and memorable riffs. My favourite tracks are the opener "Flattening of emotions" and "Together as one".

Overall , this is an enormous reccomendation if you are a newcomer to the genre.Just make sure to be open minded to the music here because it's really intense and extreme , specially if you are a listener of classic prog and expect keyboards , epics , angelic vocals and stuff like that. You wont find that on Human. You've been warned!!

Report this review (#776970)
Posted Sunday, June 24, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Death are a band I have had a fond interest in the past few years. I do respect them immensely and have always liked their music, but they are a band that I have only really liked them at periods. I remember having this album on my Ipod for a very long time, with a very bad quality MP3 sound. The sound quality did make me have a slight negativity towards this album for the past few years. But after finally getting my hands on the CD copy of the album, I do know like this album a little bit more.

Musically, compared to their first 3 albums, a natural progression is slowly coming into form. While the previous album "Spiritual Healing" dealt with longer and more experimental compositions, the songs on this album are a lot more compact, with similar and closer time lengths. Now, this does at time prove to be a slight negative aspect on the album, making the songs sound slightly similar. I do not like the robotic sound of the instrumental sections as well and the high focus of rhythms does annoy me slightly, but I do try and look past that and see what else the album holds.

Lyrically the album shows another progression from their earlier material. Having started out as a gore guts lyrical steal, as time went on, Chuck started to become a lot more critical of the movement. So, with this and their previous 2 albums, the lyrics started to become more philosophical. Apparently they got criticized for there change in lyrical styles, but that wouldn't change Chuck's artistic and stubborn ways.

The album intro "Flattening Of Emotions" is an incredible way to start the album. Taking no prisoners, it speeds on like a tractor mowing down helpless weeds (weird metaphor, but it works well, so lets go with it).

The albums most technical song would be the longest composition "Secret Face." Brilliant mixture of technical guitar work and some very complex rhythms throughout.

The album's lead single "Lack Of Comprehension" is a Death classic. The intro showing some obvious Cynic influences, explodes into one of the fastest and most extreme songs on the album. The music video for the song is also worth giving a watch.

The instrumental track "Cosmic Sea" is a very interesting track. The atmospheric keyboards surprised me slightly, and even reminded me of the synths used in Iron Maiden's "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" album.

In conclusion, this wouldn't be my favourite era of Death, but I do love a lot of tracks from this album and respect it highly. Believe me, these guys will get a lot more interesting and in my opinion better. As a fourth album showing a band's sound progressing, this is a perfect example. Definitely a pinnacle of Death Metal history.

RIP Chuck Schulinder

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Posted Monday, August 5, 2013 | Review Permalink

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