The Human Abstract

Midheaven

Written by: AP on 01/09/2008 15:02:03

Disclaimer: this is what I've been able to gather from word of mouth and a number of biographical entries without so much as a clue as to what The Human Abstract are supposed to sound like, so please bear that in mind from this point on, especially with regard to the following claims. Following the sudden and unanticipated bounce of the band's guitar-slash-keyboard brainiac A.J. Minette, and the subsequent scrapping of all pre-production material hitherto, few had faith in The Human Abstract's sophomore release ever becoming a reality. So, what better way to redeem themselves than to unleash the unexpected: a concept album sporting some pretty unusual feats.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of "Midheaven" is the haunting spoken narrative that gives the album the characteristics of some kind of musical. It comes and goes amid abrupt vocal passages that strike out of nowhere, build up in urgency and then vanish just as quickly, breaking the expected song progression into seemingly detached surges of sound. Add to that the kind of genre-defying instrumental wisdom fans of Between The Buried And Me readily embrace, complete with piano rolls that might as well be from one of Tim Burton's movies, and you've got yourself one bizarre album. But, while dancing with the tempo in a prestigious display of instrumental magnificence and technical know-how is by itself a refreshing experience, "Midheaven" sounds almost too tame for what it tries to be. Its more furious moments are downplayed by an atmosphere that's often too relaxed and upbeat.

While "Midheaven" is the equivalent of a pun on genres, its diversity could benefit from some all-out savagery. Too much weight is placed on the ultra-melodic neo-jazz sections, and although it's here that Nathan Elis shows off his abilities as a singer, those vocals have a tendency to cross the border to bad cheese, much in the same way as one M. Shadows tends to overestimate his vocal cords. What this does is constantly swing the record between gimmicky hard rock and the progressive metal it wants to be, with the consequence that it's hard to capture its essence, if it ever had one. But despite its flaws, "Midheaven" is overall a rather pleasing, if strange experience.

6

Download: A Violent Strike, Breathing Life Into Devices, Echoes of the Spirit

For the fans of: Avenged Sevenfold, Between The Buried And Me, Protest The Hero

Listen: Myspace

Release date 19.08.2008

Hopeless Records

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