The Human Abstract
Nocturne

If you, like me, wish that Protest the Hero’s excellent Kezia was a little harsher (especially vocally) and less emo or that Between the Buried and Me’s Alaska had even more sweeping arpeggios and less chaos, the fine debut from LA’s The Human Abstract should be right up your alley. Right now I’ll tell you, if you don’t like ‘shredding’ ; a.k.a lots and lots of sweep arpeggios, don’t even think about getting this album as they pretty much drip from every note, riff, solo and pore of this hugely enjoyable album.

The bands mix of expected technical discord, churning psuedo grind, progressive rock, metalcore and traditional heavy metal is perfectly injected with oodles of noodling, harmonies and acoustic segue, that while cliched work well due to the band’s skill. Guitarists AJ Minette and Dean Hererra obviusly have studied Between the Buried and Me’s Paul Waggoner and taken his approach to higher, more noodly levels even. This thing plays like a classical or power metal instrumental guitar album at times.

Despite the presence of lots of clean vocals from Nathan Ells (as well as the expected metalcore scream), they are never quite as grating or emo as Protest the Hero, being more Avenged Sevenfold or Herod-ish, but they are used exceptionally well in choruses such as opener “Harbinger”, “Self Portraits of the Instincts” and “Movement From Discord”, but this thing is all about the guitars and will get the ol’ air guitar finger cramps twisting your hands in pain in no time. With the exception of the melodies and delicate acoustic, almost chamber music inspired numbers (“Desiderata”, “Sotto Voce”) the tracks are solo heavy, twiddle laden anthems of melody that I personally found to be incredibly satisfying. Tracks like “Crossing the Rubicon”, the stunning almost Manowar sounding, choral climax of personal favorite “Mea Culpa”, the flamenco flocked “Channel Detritus” (with it’s slightly too obvious Alaskan opening flurry), rocking “Polaris”, and classical epic closer “Vela, Together We Await the Storms”, are just flat out solo heavy slabs of likeable metal.

With a solid Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me, He is Legend, The Demonstration, Swift) production, the album just ‘comes together’ for me despite all the slightly cliched pieces that most ‘metalheads’ despise (mostly due to the style choices of the players, not the actual elements in my opinion) and results is a truly exceptional album whose only drawback is the occasional forced, more chaotic tangents (“Echelons To Molotovs”, “Nocturne”) which never measure up to the band’s progressive and classical take on metalcore.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
August 26th, 2006

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