Review Summary: Human marks Death's first peak, and thankfully, it is far away from being their last.THE STORY OF DEATH, EPISODE IV/VII - HUMAN:
1991 was perhaps the best year for Death Metal. Atheist's Unquestionable Presence, Morbid Angel's Blessed Are The Sick and of course our beloved Human were all essential classic Death Metal releases that assisted progressing the entire genre. Human in particular, marks the start of a new era for Death. The band finally reached its perfect form - pure Technical Death Metal. From this point onwards, Death will release only top-notch quality albums; each one of the band's last four albums will be as good and influential as the other. Human marks the start of Death's golden era.
Shortly after releasing the former Spiritual Healing, the band was supposed to tour Europe. At the last minute, though, Chuck cancelled the tour because he thought it wasn’t organized well. Terry Butler and Bill Andrews, the bands bassist and drummer at the time, completely ignored Chuck and continued on touring with an alternative singer and guitarist, much to Schuldiner's shock and disgust. He immediately fired them from the band and instead hired the bassist Steve DiGiorgio and the ex-Cynic guitarist and drummer Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert, resulting in Death's line-up for Human. Although it didn’t seem so at first, the betrayal of his band members was one of the greatest things to happen to Chuck Schuldiner and Death.
The album starts with a fade-in of what initially seems like a gunfire. It is, in fact, a drum line by Sean Reinert, who from the beginning already shows what a great drummer he is. As said, the album's opener Flattering Of Emotions contains probably the best drumming in the entire album. The song plays perfectly the part of getting you pumped up and ready for a half hour of head banging madness. The next two songs show perfectly why. Two extreme technical pieces with extraordinarily catchy choruses, this is where Chuck shows his songwriting talent. Every riff blends into the other greatly, despite the many tempo breaks.
Five tracks into the album, things get real. Lack Of Comprehension is a song which is rightfully considered by many Death fans to be their best. It starts with a jazzy acoustic intro that sets a dark atmosphere. It is quickly forgotten after fifty seconds when a shredding melodic riff strikes in without any warning, marking down one of the greatest moment of the album. It then continues to shift between thrashy fast riffs and slow accompaniment for the beautiful solo. It repeats twice and closes up at 3:43, what makes it the shortest and yet the most memorable song off of the album.
What follows is two separate tracks which are combined by a relaxing white noise. Together reaching almost nine minutes, I consider it to be Human's most progressive part. See Through Dreams is another great catchy track. Cosmic Sea, on the other hand, is a genius masterpiece, combining almost every musical element Schuldiner ever knew. Every instrument shines here, including the keyboard used to grant the epic feel. Words can't possibly describe.
In contrary to the former record, Human was produced greatly, even though the bass, in the original recording, is not very audible. This is not a problem though, because it was masterfully fixed in the 2011 Remastered version of the album. Another improvement from the last album is the vocals; chuck finally becomes the ideal Death Metal voice. and it will stay the same way for the bands next two albums. The personnel has also improved. Sean is an amazing drummer, clearly better than Andrews, and it grants the album a whole lot. The new guitarist and bassist are both also great, even though Steve would have his glory moments on the next album.
"If it aint broke, don’t fix it."
This saying is not true at all in Death's case. Death's first three albums can be described by anything but broken, yet Death have progressed into something much bigger and better. It takes true courage to change your musical style, especially when you are at what everyone think is the top of your game. Very little artists try, many of those who try fail, but Chuck Schuldiner tried and succeeded, and thanks to his bravery today we enjoy the masterpiece that is Human.
- Lack Of Comprehension
- Suicide Machine
- Together As One
Human was released in October 22, 1991. The record label is Relativity and it is 33:53 minutes long.
All songs written by Chuck Schuldiner.
Chuck Schuldiner – guitar, vocals, producer
Paul Masvidal – guitar
Steve DiGiorgio – bass guitar
Sean Reinert – drums
David Bett – art direction
Tim Hubbard – photography
Tracy Cruz – label coordination
Scott Burns – producer, engineer, mixing
Mike Fuller – mastering
Eric Greif – management