Review Summary: Sparky infuse progressive metal with wit, innovation and manic energy on their rollicking new album.
Plenty of “progressive” metal albums released these days don't show enough progress to justify their categorization, relying too much on established formulas and rehashed ideas to make any sort of evolution possible. In such circumstances it's even more pleasant to come across a record as peculiar as Sparky's #Humanimantion
. The Canadian quartet double down on eccentric genre fusions by juxtaposing heavy modern metal arrangements with Frank Zappa-echoing eclecticism.
The end product is an album that's both instrumentally intricate and unpredictable. There are no two songs that sound the same here with the group adroitly alternating between the polirhythmic chugging of Meshuggah and the insanely vibrant zaniness of Thought Industry. Yet the fact that most tracks revolve around great hooks and memorable motifs makes this quirky music all the more penetrable. Take 'Falcon' which contrasts supremely catchy funky passages with bombastic outbursts or 'Lockjaw' that revolves around hugely playful verses splendidly building up to a booming chorus.
Sparky also effectively embed their brand of progressive metal with a sense of fun which is reflected not only in humorous lyrics, but also in the quartet's stylistic excursions. The album's centerpiece 'Etheric Silver Lining' blends sinuous, ultra-fast metal with jazz and cabaret music to scintillating effect. Singer Nealz swiftly adjusts his vocals to the mood of every segment, which makes for an impressively multifaceted performance. Similarly, 'Deaf Whales' makes good use of his wide vocal range as it features tribal chants, tight clean singing and feral screams on top of monumental riffing and slick oriental rhythms that resemble Shaolin Death Squad.
The music gets even more diverse when Sparky suddenly decide to tackle minimalist electronica on the impeccably paced 'Time,' and flirt with the repetitiveness of sludge metal on the distinctly Melvins-sounding 'No Birthday.' Even though a wide array of track modes often makes the album feel all over the place, its disjointedness is a by-product of taking risks. #Humanimantion
never ceases to be daring, infusing progressive metal with wit, innovation and manic energy. It's a conundrum of an album for sure, but the quartet's unwillingness to get normal is definitely something to behold.