Human Cometh - _Evolution_
by: St. John Satansson (3.5 out of 5)
I'd been wondering what the hell that stench was, seeping up from behind my sofa. I'd been ignoring it for a while, but it turns out that I eventually just had to have a rummage. What was expected to be an old pizza slice turned out to be a very different slab of old cheese. With some surprise and a good dose of shame, I've stumbled on an independent prog metal release that slipped through my greasy tentacles eons ago. Bad St. John.

Still, perhaps it is providence. After a Halloween month of boneheaded slasher movies wasting my brain, I need something brighter and more intelligent to spunk up my synapses. Time for judgment!

It would seem something unextreme has crept its way into the CoC demo pile tonight; there's no growls or blast beats to be had, despite the dark presentation. Human Cometh's artwork is some sub-Geiger cyberslut straddling a shadowy seat. _Evolution_, the title of the record, is barely discernible across the base of the cover. This demo album could have scored more marks for visual originality and presentation, but it is better than some of the primitive trash that drips out of the ample buttocks of the underground.

The record is opened by a groovy, rocking beat that evokes the swagger of Alice in Chains. We are treated to a high and earnest voice leading the charge. It is not quite as good as it needs to be for the style, but it is strident and committed. The strain can be felt at the high points, yet it is listenable and bravely delivered. Considering how rare truly phenomenal clean singers are in metal, I'm just happy to hear someone with the balls to give it a proper go and not look back.

There is some pleasingly retro keyboard sheen in the background that lends atmosphere and emotive tones to the sound. The music is quite fluid and various modulations between keys and moods create a recognizable prog-metal tone. The band boast some strong melodies. These carry the verse on "Aiming High" before the band delivers a building, anthemic chorus line.

Morgan Pettersson performs some competent, shredding solos in the Petrucci / Vai mould. These are not quite as electrifyingly technical as the aforementioned noodle-gods, but they are strong enough to make you sit up and take notice. There are some great melodic explorations and impressive flourishes. There are also some monolithic riffs, as familiar and comfortable to the listener as an old pair of well-sprung boots. "No Fear" firmly anchors itself in the old school, with a chorus guitar strum that evokes the soul of the sunset strip and marries it to a more soulful mood.

However, there's always a point in a review where nits get soundly picked and here we are: there is some substantial lyrical silliness on _Evolution_. An odd blend of commentary on semi-contemporary issues and nonsensical cheesy couplets, it is probably the biggest creative weakness of this album. Some standout examples include the addled cry of "I'll be your GPS navigator, even the shampoo in your hair, if you'll only start talking emo coz I don't understand a word you say". Soon to follow is the Crue-tastic "The bass is driving, the big bass drum. The girls all scream and wanna come". In case the band might be accused of being too vacuous, a solemn nod to the danger of high-altitude climbing arrives with "Here's to all of the mountaineers who risk their lives at 29,000ft on Mt. Everest... Here's to all of the sherpas". This inept lyrical madness could be seen as a good thing if you can take your music with a big tongue in your cheek. I remain unconvinced that it was meant as such.

Despite this, _Evolution_ holds its own as an atmospheric and easily listenable prog / hard rock album. Inevitably, it is moulded in the style of many bands that tribute genre overlords Dream Theater; very apparent here on instrumental "Cross the River Styx". Another, perhaps more brutal criticism could be made that Human Cometh have the will and sincerity but haven't the chops or the invention to keep up with their idols. With such irony is the song "Jaded" then heard, its self righteous assertion that many bands recycle and rip off other bands clashing horribly with _Evolution_'s clear influences. However such a criticism is, perhaps, a little cynical. While this is certainly music of a particular genre, Human Cometh have their own take on that Queensryche style and have crafted some of their own anthems.

_Evolution_ could do with a fuller production and a more forceful delivery to realise the ambitious scope of their music, but it is a fair opus, well worthy of a listen if you like this style of prog/hard rock. Of course, if you are a true kult molester of funereal-fogged woods, requiring a soundtrack to perform your diabolical full-moon mysticism under the blazing northern skies, then avoid it like the fucking plague. But you likely don't need old St. John to tell you that.


(article published 27/11/2012)

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