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Album Reviews : The Human Abstract – Midheaven

By on October 1, 2008

For any fans of Californian band, The Human Abstract, I should start by saying that they lost their lead guitarist and founding member prior to ‘Midheaven’. They have taken the recording of ‘Midheaven’ in a new direction to their debut, which appears to have really divided old fans. I mention this now – think of it as a disclaimer of sorts – as I had never heard of the band prior to this, so I can’t compare how this sits to their previous release.

The album kicks off with ‘A Violent Strike’, the longest track on the album. This epic opener is like an entire album in one song. From a slow intro, on to harsh vocals and crazy guitar, then to clean vocals, followed by a melodic break in the middle, back to the screams, and some more crazy guitars, another melodic section with some nice piano work from new keyboardist Sean Leonard, only to return to their blend of progressive metal again before the end. What an opener! It sets the tone for the rest of the album.

‘Procession of the Fates’ kicks off in the same fashion, with crazy clean guitar work, only to change into some less technical riffs, and a catchier sound. Vocalist Nathan Ells manages to blend between his harsh screams and emotional clean vocals with ease, keeping a fresh sound to the album. The album continues in the same vein, with ‘Breathing life into Devices’ but as we continue we see less of the progressive metal, for a more accessible sound, especially when it comes to the chorus.

‘This world is a Tomb’, and ‘The Path’ are as close as the band will get to something along the lines of.. ‘power ballads’, especially ‘This World…’, but the album never gets a chance to slow down pace for too long as even these 2 tracks are split up by ‘Metanoia’, a fast, hard, and technically great song, showing the band hasn’t left their original sound too much.. or what I would guess that to be!

‘Echoes of the Spirit’, follows the lead taken by ‘Procession..’, before ‘Calm in the Chaos’ mellows slowly on the stereo. The shortest song on the album at 2:47, it opens with acoustic guitar and emotional/whiney vocals for the first minute, before the full bands kicks in and the tempo picks up a little, and enters a somewhat lacking chorus, only to continue the build up right till the end.. When the song is over.

‘Counting down the Days’ returns to the rockier efforts previously heard earlier on the album, with the accessible chorus, and skilfully written music, another epic track featuring many a twist and turn. The album finishes off with ‘A dead world at Sunrise’, a ballad heavily featuring Leonard’s keyboards. Ells emotional vocals suit the slowness, and openness of the music on the track. That being said, all you could really say about this track is that it sounds nice. I would have preferred more of a statement to finish off the album, one of the heavier, technically proficient songs. ‘Dead World..’ just seems to slowly build up, and then out.. And the album is over.

Overall the music on the album is technically great, clearly written by talented musicians, and the vocals are handled well by Ells. The heavier tracks on the album have me wanting to check out their debut to see what the complainers are on about!

7.5/10

Band: The Human Abstract
Album: Midheaven
Year: 2008
Genre: Prog Rock/Metal
Label: Hopeless Records
Origin: California, USA
http://www.myspace.com/thehumanabstract

Track Listing
A Violent Strike
Procession Of The Fates
Breathing Life Into Devices
This World Is A Tomb
Metanoia
The Path
Echoes Of The Spirit
Calm In The Chaos
Counting Down The Days
A Dead World At Sunrise

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Scott is one of the fine co-owners of this establishment, handling the live content side of the site. Since 2008 he has been supplying the site with finely crafted photos. Check out his other work at scottboelsen.com, or boost his ego on facebook