Tech Death Thursday: Human – Alizarin Refraction

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Y’all want riffs, you got ’em. Human is back with a fantastic new record.

News:

  • Singularity has a new single out, the first from the upcoming Place of Chains. Get on this one if you like Enfold Darkness, and look for the album on October 11th via The Artisan Era.
  • Adelaide boys The Abducted have a beefy new song out, a fairly straightforward banger with some sweet lead guitar work. The Netherworld is Descending Upon Us comes out on September 27th.

It has been a fair bit since Italy’s Human has crossed my mind; I covered their debut way back in 2016 and promptly forgot about them, apparently. In retrospect, it’s not hard to see why—Cerebral Inwardness tried a bit too hard to be something it wasn’t, chasing after the sounds of various other established bands without ever quite getting there. It sounded way too canned on top of that; it’s not like it was a bad album, just not terribly distinctive. Scrolling through new tech death releases on Bandcamp, I happened to notice they’d put out a new album back in June that completely flew under my radar, and I’m really glad I took the time to check this out.

To say that Human has grown in the past couple years would be a huge understatement. Rather than chasing the iconic sounds of their predecessors, they’ve subsumed their influences under something of their own invention. Their penchant for open, spacey chording and tasteful fretless bass lines are akin to Obscura circa Akroasis, and there’s a lot of Fallujah in the way the leads like to cascade upwards, but those are only parts of a greater whole. The goal seems to have changed from “write a few songs that sound like x” to “write a good album,” and it has made a world of difference.

Alizarin Refraction is ambitious, a single 43-minute piece of music that can be consumed all at once as easily as it can in chunks. It’s not all fast and furious tech death all the time, with frequent natural break points and plenty of variety from riff to riff. “The Red Ocean” on its own exemplifies everything the band is capable of, with its strange arpeggios, chunky low riffs, and multiple takes on its primary theme. You’ll get plenty of flashy guitar lines from it, but they know when to slow things down as well. “Hymnocence” is one of my personal favorite tracks, and it relies primarily on hazy chords and emotive lead guitar. Each song calls back to various hooks and motifs established in previous tracks, and they all flow into each other seamlessly. On the whole, Alizarin Refraction reminds me of last year’s fantastic Aethereus album; it doesn’t have the same intense emotional core (the lyrics on Refraction are pretty typical word salad from what I could tell), but it shares that impeccable flow that made Absentia such a good listen.

Aside from the improved songwriting, the album just sounds much better than their past efforts as well. I’m not sure if they found an actual drummer or just used a better program this time around, but the biggest improvement to the actual tonal quality of the record is in the percussion. It’s no longer squashed completely flat, and all the other instruments have more breathing room as well. The vocals have a more rounded out bottom end—perfect for the vocalist’s beefy growls—and the guitar and bass tone are much smoother and warmer than before. It’s all around much more pleasant to listen to than its predecessors.

It’s been a good summer for tech death, and Alizarin Refraction is another addition to the lineup of solid releases. Human has improved drastically as a band, and they’ve put out an album that’s going straight into my regular rotation. If you like your tech to have both brains and emotion, don’t sleep on this one. If you like what you heard, be sure to give the band a follow on Facebook. That’s all for now, so until next time,

Stay Tech

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