Sound — 10
Twenty years after its original release, this groundbreaking metal masterpiece finally gets a full revamp. Every unexpected twist and turn, every screaming shred solo, every blast beat and cymbal smash, and every thudding bass line all assault the auricles like never before. The album is the same, musically, as it ever was: incredible technical musicianship with a slight melodic touch, jaw-dropping sudden stops and tempo changes, and reverberating mid-pitched growls, fairly intelligible. Sonically, however, it's a whole new beast: bass blasted up more than a few notches, drums louder, heavier, and more well-defined than ever, and surprise sounds virtually inaudible on the original recording, such as the backwards overlay of the words "manipulating destiny" in "Suicide Machine". Enter the realm of the new "Human". "Flattening Of Emotions" is first, beginning, as always, with a jazzy drum solo gradually fading in from nothing, almost reminiscent of the swing band classic, "Sing, Sing, Sing". Then the triplets enter, chugging along in a gradual crescendo, all while the bass sings out its own counter melody, flowing, separate and distinct from that of that of the guitars. On the turn of a dime, the tempo changes. The riff becomes aggressive and violent. The drums amplify the rage. The bass, once again, distinguishes itself from the guitar insanity. Then the voice of Chuck: "Where is? The person? That could have been? Who what? Took over? When did the end begin?..."
Lyrics — 10
Deep and meaningful lyrics stand as an essential component of this record. The idea of actually putting thought into words, giving them life of their own, questioning the nature of existence and of others in existence, were all revolutionary concepts at the time. Back then, if you were in death metal, you either sang about blood and gore or unholy blasphemy. Chuck was a much needed breath of fresh air for death metal right when it was most needed. Even by today's standards, the lyrics carry a surprising profundity for a metal record. For example: from "Suicide Machine": "When it comes to living no one seems to care when it comes to lashing out those with power will be there... ...how easy it is to deny the pain of someone else's suffering..." from "Secret Face": "There is a mask that covers up one's true intentions that once removed they become very clear..." from "See Through Dreams": "Close your eyes and imagine to be without what we take for granted every time we open our eyes..." I could cite several more examples, but you get the idea.
Overall Impression — 9
This work is, in my opinion, only surpassed by Death's final record, The Sound of Perseverance. The excellent remastering adds a whole new dimension its every aspect, from beginning to end. The music is abrupt and change ridden, yet there is somehow a logical flow in between pieces. Every song on this record is unique, creative, deep, and all together well-done. However the five that stand out to me the most are Flattening of Emotions, Suicide Machine, Lack of Comprehension (probably the most affected by the remastery), See Through Dreams, and Cosmic Sea. That said, this album is not without its shortcomings. The music can at times seem like a string of riffs put together in random order with virtually no thought what'soever, and two weak tracks stand out in my mind as almost flops. One is "Vacant Planets". Granted, it's not altogether horrible, it just seems like Chuck ran out of steam when writing it. There's nothing particularly special about the song, and that might be a matter of perspective, i.e. it follows the brilliant instrumental "Cosmic Sea", which, unfollowed, could have made a perfect ending to fantastic album. The other track I don't care much for is a KISS cover originally only available on the Japanese version of "Human". While Chuck's take on "God Of Thunder" is interesting, it is, for one thing, not nearly as good as the original (covers rarely are). For another, it seems somewhat out of place. I mean, after this insane rush of progressive and technical madness, to throw in a simple KISS cover seems a little odd to me. In comparison to Death's later cover of Judas Priest's "Painkiller", "God Of Thunder" doesn't have nearly the gusto or guitar work in it. But what gets me the most is that Chuck was too insecure of his voice at this time in his career to actually sing this cover, unlike the aforementioned Priest. Although there is some hint of the original vocal melody in the chorus, it's 99% just Chuck's classic growl which is great, it's just not KISS cover material. But, mediocre aspects aside, this album is mind-blowing. Anyone who calls himself a legitimate death metal fan and is unfamiliar with the album better hurry up and get the CD. And I do mean buy the CD. There's nothing like having a physical copy of heavy metal gold as your very own. Even if you have an older copy of "Human", I would recommend getting this reissue just for the new sonic dimensions, and maybe the KISS cover if your into that kind of bootleg stuff. Oh, and I almost forgot about the instrumental studio tracks available on the two- and three-disc versions of the reissue. That's pretty interesting stuff to listen to, for me anyway. It really shows how much hard work and preparation went into it all. In short, this album owns, dominates, crushes, and consumes its competition. If I lost it, I would be very angry and would order a new copy off of Amazon or something. If it was stolen, I would be less angry, because I would know that someone, somewhere would be getting introduced to the glory of Death, Chuck, and the "Human" record. Stay metal, my friends.