Humanity's Last Breath - Abyssal [Review]

Pleasantly surprised by the quality of this release

8 minute read

ABYSSAL REVIEW


I’ve been following Humanity’s Last Breath since the beginning of their career. I first heard of them through a friend in Vildhjarta, little did I know that Buster, who could be seen as the creative mind behind HLB, later would become the drummer for Vildhjarta and later on Calle, who plays guitar in Vildhjarta, joined Humanity’s Last Breath.

The music started off with a clear Deathcore affinity that has later evolved into a more mature, modern and bleak landscape with technical riffs and production techniques that really sets Humanity’s Last Breath aside from their contemporaries.

When they dropped the single Animal back in 2012 I was hooked to the contorting riffs, the abbrasive delivery and hooky production. And the production has only matured and developed with every following release.

My favorite release from them prior to this one is the self-titled release from 2013, that really put a stamp in the scene when it came out.

I’m making a simple Song-by-song review

Bursting Bowel of Tellus

This song was first released as the second single from the album, so I have listened to it before, but not in an album context.

Right off the bat I know this album won’t be a shit effort because of the production quality and decisions made in terms of guitar tone, where the drums are..

I really enjoy this going in to it. Starts off with this delightfully quirky yet bonecrushing riff. The “Rejoice in misery” choirs are to me a pleasant addition that further strengthens the unique direction of sound that the band seems to be aiming for.

2:16 .. the breakdown in this song is one of the most satisfying things I’ve heard in extreme metal in a very long time, and to have “breakdowns” that are fresh in 2019 is to me a feat in its own right.

I love the drums, I love the tasteful stops, Buster has proves to me yet again that he has a finger on the pulse of what makes a modern band heavy yet unique. The Groan Tube effect on the finishing vocals makes me think of a similiar effect that runs on the guitars throughout Car Bombs album META, I really love this stuff.

Bone Dust

Mmmh.. Crunchier than chernobyl breakfast cereal, and the alternations with double bass gaining more presence… very tasteful composition.

The mocking riff is so tastefully placed, far more original than a lot of deathcore tends to do.

The ending is incredibly satisfying with a fat chorus backing up gruesome vocals.

Fradga

Fradga released as the first music video and the third single released.

I really enjoy this one, it sounds like a writers marriage between what I expect from Calle and what I expect from Buster in terms of writing.

Lots of +2 Octave Pitch goodness. The drum-break is so unexpected but welcome with a gloomy crooning vocal line that picks up pace towards the middle of the song.

This song freaks out completely by the end of the 2 minute mark and jumps right back into cleans. Again.. I think this is genius way to distinguish their sound from other bands, no matter how intentional.

It gives you a little bit of everything you can expect from HLB at this point and then some.

Abyssal Mouth

Ugh, where do I even begin with this one.

It was the first song released, but like with their early work Animal that later made it onto their s/e, this one has been remixed.

Some of what has been done to the track I condone, and some I miss, you can’t win em’ all. But the placement of the intstruments are fresh and the mid-passage has more bite, for sure.

The drumming intro on this one is impressively original and evokes a feeling of unpredictability.

+2 Octave Pitch riffs with the crunchiest fucking bass imaginable.

Pulsating Black

This is a track with a surprising amount of balls, if you thought you had the album figured out by this point, you’re wrong.

It starts off fast and chaotic.

Dirge vocals resolve nicely between passages to make way for neatly orchestrated vocals and impeccable drumming.

Quirky riffing in the salad bowel of this one too.

Lots of flutter-picking goodness with a really pretty pad towards the end, cacaphony coming in to finish the song off as the harmonies come back.

För Sorg

Reminds me a bit of Bone Dust in the beginning, but it’s varied enough to keep me intrigued. Really beautiful choir pads in the background swelling into the mix with nice neat drumming and stripped back guitars.

Ooh, it almost ends up in what I’d expect from a modern black metal act, only with a bit more production trickery.. The middle section is pleasant.

It’s a nice instrumental adhesive for the record.

Like Flies

This song starts off with a more midtempo modern deathcore approach, but it’s no by-numbers composition by any means as the track progresses.

Horror-influenced pads/leads.. what is guitar and what is synths in this day and age anyway, right?

Enjoy the blastbeat section a whole lot.

At 2:45 it comes in with this pleasantly blown out countdown to an obliterating and demented finish.

Sterile

Will this album make use of magic no.8 ?

Track number 8 is meant to mess with your head, your expectations of the band and test you as a listener, and I’d say this track does a good job of that. It’s discombobulated and even more chaotic than what you’ve gotten used to this far into the album.

Being

I got parts of this in a teaser that HLB released on their Facebook.. and I as I listen to this I realize that it is in fact the teaser I listened to parts of.

Haha, Now here comes the Acacia Strain-worship.. and it comes wrapped up in the form of a sample of Jordan B Peterson.

I absolutely love this addition.

Vånda

This track goes low, the lyrics are so crisp and well thought out here. Ah, this is just a great track going in.

The lyrics are a huge plus on this track.

It resolves in an interesting way into cleans I really did not expect.

Powerful blastbeat-section as the track closes towards the middle with a break that catches you off-guard.

So many of sexy quirky weird riffs here too. The industrial sounding piece of metal is a really nice addition that keeps the drums from being predictable even this late on the record too.

” Follow me into the void. “ - I don’t know.. do I like it, do I .. is it corny, is it good? I can’t decide yet.

Chuuuuunky riffing by the end of it.

Rampant

Oooh the high vocals on this one are so good.

Good, the production trickery on this is SO pleasant, and the parts make for a nice track to play live in the future.

Vocals getting really gritty towards the end..

The riffs become dulled and and fatigued.. and the song fades into the last track

Dödgud

Ooh.. some drenched choir vocals and a finish worthy of any HLB/Vildhjarta-release.

Maybe it just about overstays its welcome a little bit.. I’m not sure.


Finishing notes

If your ambition is to play in a band that tours as well as cares for artistry and not just musicianship you always want to find the perfect balance between being:

  • Effectful
  • Pandering yet authentic
  • Provoking
  • Catchy
  • Predictably unpredictable rather than unpredictably predictable.

and in the case of metal bands, you also need to be the right kind of HEAVY.


When it comes to creating a sound, you should harness what makes you deviate from what other bands are doing in your associated scenes as well as your most blatant influences. And HLB really does pull this off tastefully.

From the earlier years of the self-titled influence and the odd few tracks before that there was a clear love interest between HLB and Vildhjarta.

They used to send eachother riffs and in the earlier days of the scene.

And now that Buster plays drums for Vildhjarta and Calle plays guitar for HLB it wouldn’t be surprising if the marriage had an even more blatant presence.. But Buster is smarter than that and makes sure that HLB has legs on its own.

I enjoy backing up and playing Structures Collapse, their “first release”, just to see how much more sophomoric underdeveloped the sound was and what it later became.

I hear Morbid Angel, Acacia Strain, Gojira and Vildhjarta hidden in there, but the influences are never cheap in implementation, it’s not mimicry.

It really came around with the self-titled release, I remember the hype shared among people during UKTMF 2014, people had lots of love for most bands but no band was a revered as Humanity’s Last Breath and people couldn’t wait for them to finally play live.

Humanity’s Last Breath is a band that aims for greater things than most bands that enter scenes, HLB has always aimed to be ecclectic, and I think that’s what makes me respect them so much more. I never listen to any Deathcore or contemporary “Djent” either for that matter, but when the giants release new stuff, such as SikTh, I’m back on it and enjoying every second.

And I still feel like that with HLB, I still want to know what Buster has been brewing, because he knows how to keep things fresh from release to release. HLB always has a sound that carries it’s head above the water.

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