All Too Human

The US of A’s All Too Human come up with a particularly huge bite of mathematically precise prog rock on Juggernaut. These knowledgeable lads’ range of influences goes from Symphony X to Nevermore, and even to a more remote place with what I recognize as a hint of back-catalog melodic Priest tendencies, topped by a pinch of solo Bruce Dickinson-inspired ideas on a select few of the down-tempo cuts. They’ve been around since roughly ’98, honing their craft in the depths of the American underground, and working with a string of labels up to this day. The band’s seriousness in the development of their sound is strongly palpable on this release, without a shadow of a doubt. They dabble in quite a panoply of sub-categories of stylistic approaches here, and that, in itself, is a rock-solid push in a direction that has the ammo to get ’em noticed; nevertheless, when a band blends in that many different takes on hard rock on one sole album, it’s easy to pinpoint the zones of songwriting where things have a genuinely natural and steady flow, as opposed to overwhelmingly choked up rigidity; thus, I can safely say that when All Too Human know to let their sound have room to evolve, breaking out of the mold completely, their delivery holds some pretty fucking impressive potential. The jam-out quality and feel of this one modus operandi is a breath-takingly rich school of thought in itself. On the flipside, when there’s a seemingly conscious effort to keep songs stuck on accessible mode, it’s a piece of cake to identify a lot of forced holding back going on, and the zone out syndrome starts kicking in. Best mentality to have when sitting down with such a seasoned packaging is to stick to what matters; the good stuff, the essential ingredient of the sauce.

The title-track is a fairly simple, but effective, hookish, and balls-out rocking number, paving the way for the very melodic, but still beautifully vitriolic and stomping-heavy ”Thorn In My Side”, which showcases a powerful and charismatic vocal, steadfast drumming, dynamic & pleasantly dirty bass work, and state of the art licks/riffs, all this greatly enhanced by a flawless and very fitting production from one Eric Zimmermann’s end of the deal, and retro keyboard melody flourishes that seriously own. Unfortunately, as I pointed out right out of the gate, this strongly intelligent approach to modern rock (with its strong nod to oldschool british heavy metal goodness) has a way of falling flat on its bum when a touch of grungy alternative toning down hauls ass into the picture. ”Rumble” has a killer and poignant main riff that I happened to dig at the beginning of the song, right up until repetition and flatness swallowed up the whole endeavor to turn it into one eventless zoneout that has simply nothing to do with the excellency that precedes it. I guess it might be an acquired taste; to me, it’s rather clear that this band has it in them to break out of the radio-friendly comfort zone and do better than a pedestrian, filler track like this one. ”Ruffian” starts off on a hooky and stout note, but its main asset is irrefutable; when it builds up towards the very flashy solo section (directly followed by very mint keyboard melodies), its full personality is being unveiled, and truly stuns with its impact. ”Cut Me” has intricate riffage elaborations and a slightly more bitter approach, and whilst its outlines seem to point towards accessibility when the song kicks in, the guitar work and nuanced drumming patterns really bring out the ID of this band’s philosophy, keeping things interesting, punchy, and intricate enough to stir up curiosity as the song progresses with each additional note.

Both ”Never Enough” and ”Burden” keep the technicality factor on the backburner to focus on melody full-steam; the latter, especially, has nifty melodies that are ever so slightly reminiscent of Dickinson’s ”Tears of the Dragon” type of approach, for instance, especially considering the vocal range is in a similar vein. This band stirs up this type of recipe quite well, the licks are memorable, and the cohesiveness of both the tunes is all well and good. ”Insurgent”, on the other hand, seems to last much longer than it’s 4.24 duration, thanks to how linear and restrained it sounds, especially back to back with the last two cuts, which are mind-boggingly fired up on the calculating technicality front. ”Catharsis” is blatantly one conscious effort to be all over the damn place in terms of experimentation, and this endeavor has its peaks and valleys; that being said, ”Arrythmia” is positively bonkers, stretching out to the eight minute mark, and never missing a goddamn beat. The sum of all parts, including more keyboard madness of a noteworthy quality, makes for a hell of a skillful mosaic of fusion prog know-how that doesn’t lose one bit of focus all the while; this track alone deserves a large portion of the props I can give to this album from the get-go, even if this is my first time ever checking out this band.

There’s plenty of awesomeness to go by on this disc, and if the rituals of the abstract don’t move you, you’ll still find plenty of melodic, strongly British-influenced heavy metal to roll along to, around these parts. This has a potential of drawing quite a mixed crowd, while giving tech geeks a run for their money’s worth. For the most part, I like.






[Visit the band's website]
Written by Noch
May 29th, 2012


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