Review Summary: Unhuman managed with their first album to be a force to be reckoned with. Their first LP is a technical death metal gem and one of the finest albums to have been released in 2013.
It is getting pretty hard to be blown away by a technical death metal album these days. From the machinelike approach of newcomers like Rings of Saturn to brutal death veterans like Origin or Deeds of Flesh, almost every possible facet of the genre has been pushed to its extreme limits. However, and fortunately too, there is, one in a while, a small group of individuals whose ideas seem to transcend almost everything that has been created before them in order to create something unique and absolutely addictive. Montreal’s Unhuman falls in this category.
Formed by Youri Raymond (Cryptopsy, ex-Porno Coma, ex-Secret Chiefs 3) in 1995, Unhuman has been creating music for over fifteen years without ever having a proper LP to speak about. Arriving as a late contender in 2013, Raymond, backed with Kevin Chartré (Beyond Creation, Brought By Pain) on guitars, Alex Dupras (The Plasmarifle) on drums and Matt Bérubé (Porno Coma) on the 7-string bass finally managed to release their first LP, aptly named Unhuman. As cliche as it sounds, they sincerely couldn't have chosen a better name for it, as it really encapsulates the insanity of their sound.
Music-wise, one of the main strengths of this album is the fact that Unhuman managed to create memorable and varied songs, a thing that is sometimes hard to come-by in a genre that is over-saturated with guitar sweeps and oceans of blast-beats. Every note from the guitars has its purpose, be it to create neck-breaking riffs (Psychotic Afterlife) or to create intricate and melodic atmospheres (Secheresse), all while being technical without ever going over the board. Kevin Chartré should also be credited for his unique style of soloing which gives the music a distinctive edge throughout the album. The 7-string bass from Bérubé is also impressive, most of the time following its own lines and giving a solid, meaty, backbone to the songs. He manages to shine on almost every song, especially on the instrumental [in]Human Being. As for Dupras’ performance on drums, it’s nothing short of inspiring, creating intricate patterns and fills during the 10 songs on the album all while being varied in its speed, from the open and eerie beginning of Secheresse to the mosh inducing État d’Controle.
However, one thing that really manages to separate Unhuman from its competitors are the vocals. While they may be an aquired taste, the performance of Youri Raymond is absolutely phenomenal. Using high-pitch screams, to growls, gurgles and everything in between, he seems like a complete maniac, something that is reminiscent of Matthew ‘’Chalky’’ in the early Psycroptic records. The duration and intensity of his screams is also something that should be noted as it manages to create intense build-ups and crescendos like at the ending of Secheresse, bringing every instrument together in a deadly combination.
Mixed and mastered by Chris Donaldson from Cryptopsy with the help of Mathieu Marcotte from Augury, the overall sound on this album feels precise without being sterile, which is an achievement in itself in the technical death metal field. The crystal clear guitars manage to pack a punch while leaving plenty of space for the rumbling of the 7-string bass. As for the drums, they actually sound like they’re played by a human being and are not overbearing in the overall mix.
In conclusion, Unhuman managed with their first album to be a force to be reckoned with. Their first LP is a technical death metal gem and one of the finest albums to have been released in 2013. It is still probably too soon to proclaim it to be a classic of the genre, but one thing is certain, Unhuman certainly have a brilliant future ahead of them. Highly recommended.