Is it worth a listen? Human

The iconic album cover for Human, depicting the anatomy of humans. Just with the cover, its a noticable change from the previous covers which were illustrated by Ed Repka. (Relativity Records)

The iconic album cover for Human, depicting the anatomy of humans. Just with the cover, it’s a noticable change from the previous covers which were illustrated by Ed Repka. (Relativity Records)

Death was one of the first death metal bands, it set the precedent for the genre with their demo tape Death by Metal (Around 1984) and their debut album, Scream Bloody Gore (1987). The shock value, gore centered lyrics found on tracks such as, “Sacrificial”, “Infernal Death.” It had poor audio quality,  the guitar work was a mixture of Slayer inspired riffs and pounding drums.

Scream Bloody Gore is the type of music that parents back in the 1950’s thought Rock n’ Roll was. Chuck Schuldiner the front man of Death as well as the only constant member of the band, could have just kept doing that and he did initially with their sophomore album, Leprosy. With their next album Spiritual Healing, was a noticeable difference in quality, not only did you have better audio quality, but the riffs were more creative incorporating more technical aspects, as well as, the lyrics becoming more socially minded.

Schuldiner was not satisfied with just staying in one place, and he kept pushing. This is more apparent on Human. It has been 31 years since the release of Death’s seminal album Human, the album marked a shift in tonal change.

From this point forward the band embraced technical death metal, and more introspective lyrics. The band that had started with Scream Bloody Gore was not recognizable anymore.

Let’s dive into this classic metal album, this week we are joined by the biggest Tool fan in DHS, junior Reece Frederick.

The extremely talented lineup of Death for Human. From left to right we have drummer Sean Reinert, bassist Steve DiGiorgio, vocalist and guitarist Chuck Schuldiner, finally guitarist Paul Masvidal. (Scream Blast Repeat)

The album has an iconic start, silence, and then the sounds of Sean Reinert thunderous drumming kicks in. It sets the tone for the album, the rest of the instrumental kicks in and the song is underway. Towards the end Schuldiner adopted more of a banshee vocals, more higher pitched, compared to the early growls. The vocals complement the instrumental here, as both are these growling, explosive sounds.

Who would have thought the band that sang lyrics such as, “Human coals are burning / Repulsive yet so true” (“Infernal Death”) , would go on and sing, “Should we not prepare / For the uncertain / Mysteries of our life? / Of our destiny?” (“Flattening of Emotions”)

This was not the same band anymore, and that was for the best. The sheer complexity found in the instrumentation, as well as, the meaningful lyrics. Frederick agreed on this, “I personally prefer the technical philosophical side versus the just blatantly violent lyrics.”

However, when one looks at the track listing of this album, they’ll notice a song called “Suicide Machine.” One may reasonably think, “Well, that sounds like a typical death metal song.” And then you listen to it and look at the lyrics, you’ll find that is not the case.

“Suicide Machine” is about the choice of euthanization with individuals who are on life support. I will admit it is a rather morbid topic, despite that I feel that Schuldiner handles it with maturity, if this was back during the Scream Bloody Gore era, it would have been completely different.

With the instrumentation in the song you can find the fusion of technical playing with the mainstays of death metal, the blasting drums and then the riffing, plus the bonking bass. For Frederick, “Suicide Machine” was one of his favorite tracks due to the riffs found on it.

“Robbed of natural abilities / In death they now seek tranquility / In a confused state of mind / Extending agony, they must be blind”, that’s my personal favorite verse from this song. At this point in the album there is always something I’m always reminded of, how catchy the songs are. Who would have thought that death metal could be catchy?

“Cosmic Sea” sets itself apart from the other songs on this album, after all, it’s a solely instrumental track. First thing, “See Through Dreams”, the track before, beautifully transitions into “Cosmic Sea” with its wind down.  The proggy aspects of this album shine the brightest here.

“One of their more technical songs on the album. It serves as a testament to how well they could play” Frederick said in regards to the track. Schuldiner’s guitar playing really shines here, but not wanting to be forgotten bassist Steve DiGiorgio has an absolutely nasty bass solo.

The only words I can use to describe the tone he gets out of his bass, is like trudging through thick mud. Absolutely nasty, in a good way.  Reinert’s drumming holds up the song as it provides the support, actually for the entire album Reinert does a fantastic job at keeping everything together and tight with his stellar drumming.

Schuldiner for this album had looked beyond just the immediate Tampa scene and broadened his horizons to gather a insanely talented lineup, while Schuldiner drove everything forward, everyone fulfilled their roles to great success.

The driving force of Death, frontman Chuck Schuldiner. A Florida resident, who untimely passed away in 2001 due to complications of his brain cancer. (Catherine McGann)

On Schuldiner Frederick had this to say, “He might be one of, if not, the best frontman in metal of all time. He had a drive.” It’s a shame that he died on December 13th, 2001, because of complications related to his brain cancer.

Despite the short time Schuldiner had, he had a large impact on the metal community that can still be felt. The death metal scene would not be where it is today, if not for the pioneering Schuldiner. The possibilities of what he could have done, had he only had more time.

In the end, Human may not be the best Death album, as Frederick feels, but there is an undeniable impact it had, not just on Death, but on metal as a whole. This is the reason why it is still highly talked about. It changed everything.

I will have to give Human a solid “Not Machine Gun Kelly/10.”

As always, I am on the prowl for new music to listen to, so if you have any recommendations just let me know. Not just that, but give this album a chance, who knows maybe you’ll end up enjoying Death.