Release DetailsLABEL 20 Buck Spin
RELEASED ON 3/30/2008
posted on 8/2008 By:
Composed of an hour’s worth of lengthy post-metal tracks, Humanfly’s II isn’t the kind of album you throw on for a quick fix of aggression. Nor, really, is it the kind of album you can sit back and unconsciously soak in -- the intensity of these tracks won’t allow it. Through clearly bred from the same stock as ISIS, Neurosis and Cult of Luna, there’s markedly less in the way of dynamics here. II, for the most part, is a consistently pummeling and draining post-metal album. I can appreciate that. With many bands of this style softening and moving into the realm of post-rock, the bile displayed on these is a welcome reminder of this genre’s power. However, such an unrelentingly punishing disc of this gaudy length is quite a lot to endure.
Like the aforementioned Cult of Luna, Humanfly grew from hardcore roots to a more spacious, textured style. However, while on their early work, Cult of Luna sounded like a band attempting to push the limits of hardcore songs by slowing them down, drawing them out, and layering them with lush atmospherics, Humanfly appear to have stronger sonic ties to heavy rock. Though heavy as sin, the tracks on II don’t have the kind of complexity of the more thoroughly composed songs penned by ISIS, or any of the other number of bands who took their initial cue from Godflesh. “Nenhuns Deuses Nenhuns Mestres,” for example, sounds like a jam track which was reconsidered and then fleshed out by the band. The fact that I can at least sense some spontaneity on these tracks makes them more enjoyable. The jam room vibe is ever-present, sharpening the edge of these already viscous tracks.
The performances and production here are impeccable. Everything sounds the way it should; and you can really sense the players on each track. I can’t fault the band for how they are playing these songs. However, there are times when I hoped a little more thought and effort went into the writing of the songs. “Merakech,” for example, features an absolutely killer opening riff reminiscent of High on Fire circa Surrounded by Thieves. But, too much of the song is dominated by the band hammering out less than inspiring chord sequences. It’s almost as if, and I hasten to say this because I’m not a fucking mind reader, that the band is filling space because they sense they have to write long songs because, well, that’s what the other bands they’re trying to sound like do. I sense that if they shook that mentality, focused on the stronger riffs they certainly have in their arsenal and tightened up the length of some of these tracks, they would be able to make an album that is much more compelling and enjoyable than II.
As exhausting as II is, it’s a worthwhile listen. For post-metal fans who lament the transition of many of the genre’s elders to lighter fare, this album will be a particular boon. While there are a fare share of clean guitar interludes on display here, they are mostly brief and always battered by surging, distorted power chords. For some, like myself, the band’s obsession with extrapolation will be a bit much to suffer. But, I’m sure there are others for whom an experience as cathartic as II is well worth the album’s run-time.
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