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MIDHEAVEN

The Human Abstract

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal


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UMUR
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3 stars Midheaven is the second studio album from US heavy metal act The Human Abstract. In my review of the debut album from The Human Abstract called Nocturne (2006) I questioned why the band was present on PA, but after listening to Midheaven I found my answer. Itīs not that Midheaven is a progressive metal album in my ears, but it has lots of progressive elements that could warrant an inclusion depending on the ears that hear.

Since the debut founding member A.J. Minette ( Guitar, piano) has left the band and been replaced by Andrew Tapley ( guitar) and a sixth member has also been included to the ranks in Sean Leonard ( Keyboards).

The music is still melodic modern metal with occasional thrashy riffing and both clean and screaming, gruff vocals. This time some of the songs have more experimental structures though and borders progressive metal at times. The album opener A Violent Strike is the best example, but a song like Breathing Life into Devices has some pretty obvious progressive elements as well. Note all the neo-classical guitar notes that was also a big part of the sound on the debut.

The musicianship is excellent. Lots of fast and melodic playing, tight drumming and a strong vocalist ( his style is an aquired taste, but no one can dispute his skills).

The production was initially done by Toby Wright (Korn, Slayer, Alice in Chains), but the band had some disagreements over musical direction with him and changed producer along the way. The band finished the album with Leonard Simone and Jesse E. String co-producing the album. The sound quality is excellent. A really enjoyable modern metal production IMO.

There are still many parallels between a band like Avenged Sevenfold and The Human Abstract and I canīt help feeling that Iīve heard most of the material on Midheaven before. That doesnīt make it a bad release though and if you can stand the emo singing youīll probably enjoy this album greatly. The Human Abstract does tread enough new ground on Midheaven to stir clear of the generic label which is what I gave the band after listening to Nocturne, but donīt expect to hear great progressive achievements. A big 3 star rating from someone who might not be a fan of the genre but knows quality when he hears it.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#195058)
Posted Friday, December 26, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
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3 stars When I reviewed THE HUMAN ABSTRACT's first album, I said that the band certainly could play but that the record was very uneven, very decent till song 8, and quite mediocre after it. It seems lack of balance is a feature inherent to the band's DNA.

"Midheaven" has some advantages over its predecessor. Mostly, the band has found some use for their abilities. Whereas in "Nocturne" many instrumental sections just appeared to have been included there for showing-off purposes, everything seems to have a reason now. The crazy guitar scales and drum fills fit the music and sound like they belong here. The band thus sounds a little bit less self-indulgent as a result, which is a good thing in extreme metal. Excesses may sound good in other genres, but in metal extreme metal sometimes they sound like cheap ways of getting attention (the music already is loud, please.)

Some of the weaknesses that this album still has are the lack of balance and the use of "screamo" vocals. Screamo vocals detract from the overall metal picture and make the music sound adolescent and less serious than it is. On another hand, the album, again, starts to lose focus after about halfway through. Curiously, exactly when metal seems to recede in favor or emo/harcore music.

The best song, and the catchiest, is probably "Breathing Life into Devices" It actually makes the vocals seem like a fine addition to the album. And the band displays their abilities without getting in the way of the music.

Again, a 3-star effort that could've been better. I hope next time THE HUMAN ABSTRACT gets it totally right. Anyway, the band is a good alternative in light extreme metal.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#219651)
Posted Wednesday, June 03, 2009 | Review Permalink

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