Review Summary: Call it a comeback.
What comes to mind when someone mentions "The Human Abstract?" Most of the time people always associate the band with the returning lead guitarist A.J. Minette, who is undoubtedly one of the best guitarists in the current metal scene. The Human Abstract has always had their own complex sound, which is a lot of classical interludes and exciting build-ups, leading into shredding and soaring guitar leads on top of fast rhythms. That is found a lot in modern progressive metalcore, but nobody does it or has done it quite as effectively like The Human Abstract. Nocturne
was released in 2006, and I remember the first time I heard "Vela, Together We Await The Storm." I was blown away by the way that they soared into choruses and out of guitar solos with so many crazy time signatures and guitar leads, and how I had never heard anything like it. Nocturne
made me anticipate Midheaven
to be as great as, if not better, than Nocturne
. To my disappointment, with A.J. Minette leaving the band to do something "non-metal," Midheaven was an abysmal mess, causing me to lost all faith in The Human Abstract, as well as hating them for disappointing me as much as they did. So here we are now, A.J. Minette back with The Human Abstract, with the departure of former vocalist Nathan Ellis and arrival of Travis Richter(ex From First To Last, The Color of Violence). With the main returning element that caused Nocturne
to be such a success, what exactly do we have with Digital Veil
Well, it's certainly safe to say that The Human Abstract have regained their composure. Travis Richter was certainly a very risky and controversial replacement for Nathan, being as he has never been in a band as technical and complex, but his excellent blend of growls and shrieks complement his deep and demanding cleans very well. However, that isn't to say that he doesn't have any "meh" moments on the album. His cleans can sometimes come off as unneeded and frustrating, because his screams are too good to not be used more often than they are on Digital Veil
. For example, in "Horizon to Zenith," Travis almost sounds bored, drawling out the lyrics monotonously and dispassionately. Fortunately, these moments are too few and far between for it to become a complete turn off to this album. His vocals really shine on "Faust," as that song all around is easily a highlight of the album.
So what makes Digital Veil
so great? The answer is extremely obvious, really.. We saw the direction The Human Abstract starting going in after they lost A.J. It's no secret that he was one of the main elements that made Nocturne
such a success. There are some moments on this album that are absolutely jaw-dropping, some of which being the "breakdown" (if you can even call it that) towards the beginning and end of "Complex Terms" when he and the forgotten stepchild Dean Herrera show that they have certainly not forgotten how to show off their chemistry and playing ability. However, there are some moments on this album that seem to just drag on and on. These moments (seemingly hours) happen when Dean decides to just chug along to whatever insane sweep pattern A.J. seems like shredding at the time. Fortunately, they don't happen as often as they did on Nocturne
, but they can be frustrating when they do happen. They happen in "Patterns," as well as "Holographic Sight." The fact that A.J. sweeps a lot and Dean chuggs a lot is no reason to not listen to this album, though. Some of the most brilliantly orchestrated moments on the album happen when they do that. The end of "Complex Terms" being the biggest example, as Travis and the band chants "Oh how we believe in all the monuments built by thieves," A.J. and Dean weave in and out of a ridiculous triplet pattern as the song closes out.
With all of that meshed together into a disappointingly short 8 song album, we have a complete return to form with The Human Abstract. Lose Andrew Tapely and Nathan Ellis, add A.J. Minette and Travis Richter, and you get what can arguably be called a top album for 2011 at the end of the year.