Friday, August 29, 2008
Death - Human
Utterly pummeling. Subtly technical and simply brutal. Pure aggression, anger and beauty perfectly balanced in a precise unleashing of hatred towards society. Death's "Human" is one of the several albums that all death metal is measured against. It is a genre milestone, a glimpse into the future of death metal. It is the perfect blend of all that was death metal at the time - groove, brutality, and the imminent infusion of jazz elements with the genre's past thrash roots. It is an album that is as relevant today as when it came out almost sixteen years ago. For me, it is hard to be unbiased toward the album that introduced my once ignorant ears to death metal.
Thousands of words have been used to describe this album. Thousands of hours have been spent listening to "Human" by fans all across the world. These fans have been drawn into the deep production, master songmanship, incredible musicianship and personality of each song. Listening to Human is an experience. Blasting songs like "Suicide Machine" and "Lack of Comprehension" is almost a spiritual awakening for many. The sheer impact of the music hitting you is enough to make you stop an allow the songs to absorb you and your attention. I once played "Lack of Comprehension" in a school class for a presentation and everyone simply sat and stared for three minutes, completely shocked. To them it was an eternity, for me, it was over too quickly.
As the drums fade into "Flattening of Emotions," you are completely unprepared for the sonic intensity of the guitar tone. I still get chills racing up and down m spine when that song erupts. It's like an orgasm of death metal fury - so powerful and close. One of the most powerful aspects of the album's tone is its depth. The guitars sound as if there are a million guitars playing simultaneously and hitting every note at the same time. Sadly, the bass is generally lacking and even the intro to "Lack of Comprehension," is a bit hard to decipher without close examination. Schuldiner's guitar tone is simply overpowering the bass. DiGiorgio should have been a bit more audible in the mix. Luckily the guitar tone that Chuck and Paul Masvidal discovered for this album is simply incredible. The tone is beautiful and fucking HEAVY. It is absolutely uncompromising.
This production supports one of the strongest song collections that any album has ever had. Ever. Eight songs, thirty-three minutes and fifty-seven seconds of perfection. The album neither lasts too long nor is is over too quick. It beats the crap out of you and then lets you get up only hoping for more abuse; more Death. "Flattening of Emotions" and "Suicide Machine" exists as a brutal opening combination only to be followed by "Together as One" and the intense "Secret Face." Hell, if that was all that was on this record, it would already be worth the price of a full length. Instead however, we get the lethal quartet of previously mentioned "Lack of Comprehension" and three closing tracks that fit perfectly onto the album yet hint at the future direction that death would take with its next three albums: Individual Thought Patterns, Symbolic, and Sound of Perseverance. "See Through Dreams", "Cosmic Sea", and "Vacant Planets" are monumentally intense jazz/death hybrids with a hint of jazz more than the pure fusion of jazz and death metal that Pestilence (latter albums) and Atheist would become known for.
These songs are ultimately an extension of the musicians themselves, notably Schuldiner. Reinert's drumming is spectacular and compliments Schuldiner and Masvidal excellently. Guitar solos are superb, each one capturing the essence of the song and existing as separate memorable entities. These musicians and somewhat absent DiGiorgio - who we don't have to mention due to his undeniably incredibly talent - are masters of subtlety. The quick high pitched noises twenty-four seconds into "Suicide Machine," bassist DiGiorgio I believe, and the vocal effects used later on at the end of "See Through Dreams" are only two examples. The album's charming quality is found not in the music but in the musician's prowess at adding these minuscule yet personal touches to the music.
This album, "Human," is a piece of art that all must own. It is an example of metal, death metal and music at its very best. The effort and legacy of the musicians on human is unquestionable as is the strength and legacy of the release itself.