Sugarplumeferry | Pittsburgh | 05/19/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Human" is a classy, inexorable monolith of a metal album that elevated Death to new technical heights and paved the way for many great things to come. Of all of their releases I own (which excludes Leprosy and Spiritual Healing) this is my favorite. For starters, the raw production provides for a very intimate experience that overpolished music cannot afford. This makes the opening riff of "Flattening of Emotions," a personal favorite, even more of a crushing juggernaut and paves the way for the rest of this incredible metal milestone. Death frontman and auteur, the late Chuck Schuldiner, offers up some great guitar wizardry and equally compelling lyrics, while his symbiotic trade-offs with guitarist Paul Masvidal are some of the most fluid ever recorded in the genre. Steve DiGigorgio's fretless bass adds some nice grooves to the mix and takes a life of its own on the ambient instrumental "Cosmic Sea," while pre-Cynic drummer Sean Reinert proves to be a worthy predecessor of Gene Hoglan.
The album is a bit short, clocking in at only a little over a half hour, but its brevity only serves to emphasize its timelessness. "Human" has stood a whopping nineteen-year test of time, and will always be a Grade-A metal classic. Death would go on to record three superb albums afterward, but this is still the peak for me.
Highlights: Flattening of Emotions, Suicide Machine, Secret Face, Lack of Comprehension, Cosmic Sea"
A shining star in a sea of numbskulls.
Danny | South Philly | 07/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Generally, death metal isn't my thing. Not to say it doesn't have it's place, mind you; Obituary and Deicide get some play around my house when I need the mightiest jolt of energy musically imaginable and Slayer just won't do. But, I find myself getting bored mighty quickly. Genre fans will crucify me for this, but I find it all rather same-y and interchangeable after a while. How many times can I listen to Glen Benton growl about the devil? And don't even get me started on Cannibal Corpse.
Death were a different beast, though. While many early death metal bands were trying to play catch-up with Death's first couple albums, Chuck Schuldiner had already started progressing beyond the formula. By the time Human came out in 1991, Death were well ahead of the pack. Their exponential maturity is comparable to what Metallica and Megadeth were doing compared to all the other Johnny-come-lately thrash bands of the late 80s. This band was more interested in the infinite possibilities of the music than pandering to what is stereotypically known as a very stubborn fanbase with the same thing over and over again. Human is the sound of a band with integrity and chops. And, man, could these guys play.
Chuck was my kind of guy. Check out the interview he did for MTV where he wears the shirt with the kittens on it. It's funny to me that one of the cornerstone pioneers of a genre that prides itself on machismo and brutality chose to rub in the world's face, whenever possible, that he was one of the sweetest and most down to earth people in the ego-driven music industry of the late 20th century.
Anyway, it's at this point where Death becomes one of my favorite metal bands. Many bands start out strong, peak, then get weak, but Death just kept getting better and better. It's truly unfortunate that Chuck had to die so young, but he had a perfect career. Thanks for the music, Chuck."
The peak of Death
death metal and black metal | Austin, TX | 01/04/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Death's output has always been more a function of the musicians assembled by mainman Chuck Schuldiner than anything else. On the first album, Autopsy's Chris Reifert kept the band in check; on the second and third, the band that later became Massacre gave the band a more aggressive, basic sound.
On "Human," Chuck bonded with the guys from Cynic, and they upgraded his songwriting -- and he kept them aggressive and true to the spirit of death metal. With new musical understanding of key and harmony, this album gains a spacious sense of contrast that earlier death did not have, but because it stays away from the easy heavy metal licks, has a profundity that later Death albums completely lack.
These songs are hard-hitting and simple in structure, but complex in riff style and development, which makes them a delight to listen to. Unlike previous Death albums, "Human" has an eerie depth so that we the listeners kind of wake up three songs in and think, "Holy nuts! I'm immersed in the strange new world of this music!"
After this CD, Death never really regained the momentum they'd had before, and started trying to be heavier Judas Priest clones, with a brief exception for "Sound of Perseverance." But on "Human," Death rise above everything else they've done -- even "Scream Bloody Gore," their acerbic first album -- to make a lasting testament to their vision."