Digital Veil review by The Human Abstract

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  • Released: Mar 8, 2011
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (52 votes)
The Human Abstract: Digital Veil
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Sound — 8
Since the recording of their last (and poorly recieved) album, Midheaven, The Human Abstract have gone through quite a few changes. From almost constant member replacements to the true departure of vocalist Nathan Ells, I speculated what a new THA album would sound like after so much personal turmoil. The result is mixed, but overall splended. Musically, they are sounding much more like a true progressive metal band than a metalcore group, though some elements of metalcore are still visible in the music. In numbers like Faust or Patterns, the true technical skill of guitarists Andrew Tapley and A.J. Minette shines beautifully, like a polished jemstone. Other songs, like Complex Terms or the title cut are just plain fun to listen to.

Lyrics — 9
New vocalist Travis Richter (formerly guitarist for Post-Hardcore outfit From First To Last) has most obviously taken a page from the BTBAM vocal delivery manual. Travis' voice so strongly resembles Tommy Rogers' at points they're almost indestiguishable. This isn't to say his delivery isn't impressive though. Unlike their first vocalist, whose range was basically a hardcore punk scream and emo-esque singing, Travis hits low bellows with a few high screams thrown in, as well as singing midrange. That being said, I believe his voice fits the music far better than Nathan's ever did. Lyrically, this album is a stellar triumph. Very well written, some of the lines come off rather literally ("I know what you are thinking how could he take apart my safety"-Faust) to the, well, abstract (The tailor's shop has closed and we don't dress for miracles anymore-Complex Terms). It's this lyrical variety, combined with Travis' voice, that make the songs more than just average prog pieces, but something worth listening to over and over.

Overall Impression — 8
While some will undoubtedly compare Digital Veil to any post-Alaska BTBAM, The Human Abstract have enough originality in their music to make them more than just a carbon copy band. This disk impresses on almost every level, from the precise drumming, to the technical shredding, to the stellar vocals. The only flaw with the album for me was that near the end the songs tended to blend together rather than flow naturally. Otherwise, in my view, Digital Veil is nothing short of a modern Prog/Metalcore masterpiece. For fans of Between The Buried And Me, The Faceless, Rush, Coheed & Cambria.

41 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Jsteele1408
    EpiExplorer wrote: This is nothing, its just every metalcore fans wet dream with added guitar wank. And yes I have listened to it.
    I disagree. I'm not a fan of metalcore, and until this release I wasn't ever a fan of The Human Abstract. Something about this album really pulled me in, I find it very interesting and it's certainly one of the best recent album releases I've heard. The chord changes are predictable for the most part, but that's because AJ follows a lot of the "rules" of classical music. I don't think it stops the songs from being interesting and fresh. Really digging this at the moment, along with The Collective.
    mrshreddy
    EpiExplorer wrote: This is nothing, its just every metalcore fans wet dream with added guitar wank. And yes I have listened to it.
    Too right.
    Lion_Slicer
    Loki_37 wrote: I don't really favor the comparison, as I listen to BTBAM like every day and this album don't really touch them... Last note here, bands are often criticized for playing simple and easy arrangements. It's one of the biggest complaints of all the core sub-genres. Often times, they play absurd pieces in their songs to say, "we do have some talent, you know."
    I agree that the BtBaM comparisons immediately turn me off. Saying "this band is sort of like BtBaM" to me is like saying "this gas is sort of like oxygen." I like The Human Abstract on their own merits though, they just don't need to be compared to what I consider a band of absolute superiority. On your other comment, I feel like THA kind of flips the rule book: lots of bands do standard, not-overly-technical chords/melodies for 90% of a song and then go crazy for the most powerful section; I find THA is at their musical best when they calm down for a more simple chorus or something, it's like the eye of the storm. Lots of Midheaven songs achieve a better balance because of this, though some of their songs, e.g. Vela, Together We Await The Storm are amazing anyway. I see The Human Abstract as the Cinderella of the musical world. That's not metaphorical, it's literal: they could realize their awesome potential if they would just STOP SWEEPING FOR A DAMN SECOND
    ninjagayden777
    Lion_Slicer wrote: I see The Human Abstract as the Cinderella of the musical world. That's not metaphorical, it's literal: they could realize their awesome potential if they would just STOP SWEEPING FOR A DAMN SECOND
    I lol'd
    kellyloverke3
    Oh by the way just because a band is complex doesn't make it good. Yeah they put a lot of hard work but I think they just wanted to get their fans back. Which for me failed miserably. So i'm going to go back to listen to nocturne and midheaven(which was WAY better than this album)
    fartsyjoe420
    i just cannot get into this album. i'm trying very hard to like it but theres just something soooo off about it. the vocals are strange and maybe they'll grow on me, but at this point i honestly can't stand the new vocalist. nocturne had some simply amazing pieces in it, and while this album feels like something amazing is right around the corner, it just never comes. 5/10
    wraith313
    I have found that a lot of bands like this....go overboard with technique and speed playing. At some point its just like..."Why are you being complex just for the sake of being complex, rather than actually saying anything?"
    thebigredjj10
    I disagree. I think they are saying something. Complexity does not mean that content is not within, it's just harder to get to. For me, that makes it all the more rewarding.The reason pop bores me for the most part is that I understand the song completely immediately. There is nothing wrong with this, but I like the challenge of complex and intricate music. It takes active participation on my part to mentally keep up and understand. I get that people may not enjoy this, but I do.
    marcus10
    well...i'm done listening to this band now. i even liked midheaven better than this album
    kellyloverke3
    lol best comment
    Lion_Slicer wrote: Loki_37 wrote: I don't really favor the comparison, as I listen to BTBAM like every day and this album don't really touch them... Last note here, bands are often criticized for playing simple and easy arrangements. It's one of the biggest complaints of all the core sub-genres. Often times, they play absurd pieces in their songs to say, "we do have some talent, you know." I agree that the BtBaM comparisons immediately turn me off. Saying "this band is sort of like BtBaM" to me is like saying "this gas is sort of like oxygen." I like The Human Abstract on their own merits though, they just don't need to be compared to what I consider a band of absolute superiority. On your other comment, I feel like THA kind of flips the rule book: lots of bands do standard, not-overly-technical chords/melodies for 90% of a song and then go crazy for the most powerful section; I find THA is at their musical best when they calm down for a more simple chorus or something, it's like the eye of the storm. Lots of Midheaven songs achieve a better balance because of this, though some of their songs, e.g. Vela, Together We Await The Storm are amazing anyway. I see The Human Abstract as the Cinderella of the musical world. That's not metaphorical, it's literal: they could realize their awesome potential if they would just STOP SWEEPING FOR A DAMN SECOND
    polytriplica
    I'm half-surprised by the comments here. Not surprised because of the quick judgements the average person is likely to hand out on a regular basis, and because this album is hard to get at first listen. Surprised because I sincerely hoped that more people on a site focused around music involving guitars would be able to actively listen and appreciate the layers of complexity and classical theory that went into this album. I seriously listened to this one four times the day I got it. Once while reading along with the lyrics, once actively listening, once passively listening while I did something else, and once for pure enjoyment after that. The guitar work is beautiful, true classical mastery of the instrument. The drumming is fantastic and I can't wait to see how Powell grows. The vocals were quite a surprise, and though Richter has problems singing clean live, I hope to see him get some coaching and plenty of practice and bounce back with some greater skill. The composition over all was marvelous, and the album flows from start to finish with the smooth ups and downs of a symphony. Not to mention the sound engineering, done by Herrera himself. If you listen closely to Elegiac, you can pinpoint the different sides and heights the guitars are coming from. It's a tough listen off the bat, but if you give it enough chance and listen with an open mind, you'll be blown away by how powerful of a work it really is.
    Downfault
    I actually found the album to be a little stale. It really doens't break any new ground or redefine the genre with anything new. Although I do appreciate the musical skill from every member of the band the album was quite a let down. I enjoyed the more metalcore sound that the band has ventured into but I was really hoping for something new from the band especially having the return of A.J and Andrew still being in the band. No song really draws me in as a whole but rather that there are highlighted peices in each song that I find enjoyable. With all the changes to the band which some may find as improvements, they really didn't do it for me. I'm sure eventually it will grow on me but it was too short of what I was expecting, but thats just my own opinion.
    Baconator1228
    Baconator1228 wrote: Weather you like this album or not, you must admit it beats the shit out of midhaven
    Im a bad speller by the way
    larrytheguitar
    EpiExplorer wrote: This is nothing, its just every metalcore fans wet dream with added guitar wank. And yes I have listened to it.
    As much as I hate this guy, he's right about this one. The guitar work is impressive, but I expected the songs to be much more powerful and well-structured. Musically speaking, the songs Faust, Patterns, and Complex Terms are masterpieces, but they really do nothing to pull you in completely. Antebellum is also quite overrated, although I like "range" it has and is one of the better structured songs on the album. Digital Veil isn't amazing for obvious reasons, and AJ in general really went overboard with the sweeps. So much so, it get's tiring.
    andrewjf
    Travis isn't takin a page from any other vocalist. He's always been his own person, he has his own scream and has had it since his beginning days of FFTL.
    ProgJazzMath
    EpiExplorer wrote: This is nothing, its just every metalcore fans wet dream with added guitar wank. And yes I have listened to it.
    You are very wrong. It's still got that classical feel to it, with a large helping of metalcore, but it's not just generic metalcore with a few little scales here and there like you are impying... Of course I prefer Nocturne because that album musically was something no other metal band out there could do in my opinion. Fair rating on this album though.
    Mr.McAwesom2112
    On a website for guitarists, you figure there would be more people who actually know something about music. Irony at its finest.
    MyNameAreHenry
    Just gunna state the Holographic Sight is genius, he uses the Lydian scale during the breakdown and for the sweeps/solo, which gives it a really interesting feel. Also, A J Minette in a recent interview that he's structured the songs in pairs, so there are certain songs that work together, I think Faust and Complex terms is one. And to the guy that said this is metalcore with added wank, I have to disagree completely, there are very few bands that pull off the same song structuring, (guitar-wise) this album wasn't about speed, it was about the theory.
    NosferatuZodd09
    I thought the tech and wank in this one were quite restrained compared to the other albums and other bands that just doodle away [wank] but hey sometimes a few powerchords all that you need to succeed blah blah blah
    BabrahamLincoln
    Mr.McAwesom2112 knows what's up. It's too bad people can't just LISTEN to the damn record instead of just looking for things to hate on. At first listen they may sound like BTBAM but if you REALLY listen, the two bands have their own distinct styles. Personally, i prefer THA simply because i don't have enough patience for BTBAM's stuff, although they are obviously skilled songwriters. But really, it's stupid to compare the two. I saw THA live a while back and Dean was talking about BTBAM as if he were a fan so i imagine thee's some influence there but not enough to call them a rip off...and THA is not metalcore or deathcore, they just have moments of both sometimese. Also, contrary to popular belief, AJ doesn't do ALL the writing. What ya gotta realize is they were going for simpler and heavier and that's exactly what they accomplished. They wanted to kick people in the nuts, so to speak, after their last disappointment of an album. I don't care what anyone says, i loved the shit out of this one!
    dylan87654321
    i wish they would drop the core part of their music cause this albums classical moments are breath taking, the metal parts are great but as soon as a band stops to silence and the singers screams "get me off" then breakdown it ruins the entire tension and structure of the piece and i know im only using faust here as an example but the same type thing happens in other parts of the album. The Human Abstract are on the verge of becoming one of the best contemporary prog bands but when they do the cliches its hard to take the rest of the music seriously, with that said i think Horizon to Zenith is the best song on the album with Complex Terms second
    Loki_37
    They say it sounds like BTBAM because the low screams are nearly identical, and there are slight progressive similarities in the use of piano and lighter guitar work. Previous albums sounded nothing alike, but this could be like a watered-down Alaska with lesser singing ability (my opinion). They've got a heavier metalcore influence, so BTBAM fans would probably be offended by that comparison. I don't really favor the comparison, as I listen to BTBAM like every day and this album don't really touch them... This album feels very geared to win - and win back - fans. It's only got 8 tracks, and most fall into the classical metalcore traps. Hopefully, the more prog/metal bits were hints of what's to come from these guys. Otherwise, it's fair to say they are just another above-average band in a bad genre.
    I have found that a lot of bands like this....go overboard with technique and speed playing. At some point its just like..."Why are you being complex just for the sake of being complex, rather than actually saying anything?"
    Last note here, bands are often criticized for playing simple and easy arrangements. It's one of the biggest complaints of all the core sub-genres. Often times, they play absurd pieces in their songs to say, "we do have some talent, you know."
    Rahguzar
    It almost feels like AJs methodology although genius, took away a bit of that catchy edge that I so enjoyed in Nocturne. Nocturne felt unsure and exciting this feels calculated and exacting, which i still appreciate but the album feels cold.
    NosferatuZodd09
    I pretty much fell in love with this album because of the harmonization, I also feel the -core is almost non-existent for the most part in the album which I also like. Those 4/5 part harmonies are just freaking amazing. Which also inspire me to want to learn how to craft them and understanding the interactions of the notes within them. I don't mind the sweeping, I do feel they seem a bit safer in that regard but at the same time I just enjoy their note choices a lot more in this album. Haven't really tried Midheaven but in Nocturne some riffs just felt very.. generic.. standard in some songs... where as in others they were masterpieces like in "Channel Detritus" IMO. And they abuse the sweeps more in that album I'd say... I remember at first I hated this band and AJ lulz
    fli.pansy
    i'm glad AJ is back. you can clearly tell that the band (and the fans) have missed him
    Jsteele1408
    I've heard recently.* Haha that made it sound as if it was one of the best albums I've ever heard.
    1000101
    This album takes the neoclassical awesomeness that was nocturne, adds the darker and more experimental sound that was midheaven, then injects it with some much needed brutality. i freaking love it!
    1000101
    ALSO: i like travis's screams waaaay better than nathan's (and, to be honest, the BTBAM singer's screams...they kinda fall flat for me)
    Fisfity
    I don't think the album was really meant to be listened to as individual songs...If you listen to the progression of the album as a whole (not the progression of each song) it makes a lot more sense. It's almost like a classical piece with several different movements, which explains why the individual song structure feels so lacking.
    Jsteele1408
    SweeTDeviL889 wrote: I would replace my autographed copy of this album in a heartbeat. ....Really now?? what do you want for it?
    He's saying if it was stolen, he'd replace it in a heartbeat.
    bokma
    I heard the song Digital Veil on youtube I thought it was pretty pathetic. To me, it was generic metalcore with wanky riffs thrown in that had no flow whatsoever. I know I can't judge the album as whole until I listen to the whole thing though, of course. Also, why are people compairing them to BTBAM? You obviously don't listen to enough of either band.
    mark3777
    1. this does not sound like BTBAM. 2. I miss the old vocalist. the work he and Minette did on Nocturne was amazing.
    a drummer
    i was really looking forward to this expecting to get blown away. but, after one listen, i'm a little dissapointed, more listens to come though. So far this year, Darkest Hour's new one has got the top spot, imo New protest and Btbam on they way!
    Jsteele1408
    bokma wrote: I heard the song Digital Veil on youtube I thought it was pretty pathetic. To me, it was generic metalcore with wanky riffs thrown in that had no flow whatsoever. I know I can't judge the album as whole until I listen to the whole thing though, of course.
    Yeah, that song is pretty much the "black sheep" of the album. I'm not saying it's bad, but it's not like any of the other songs on the album, really. I'd say Patterns or Complex Terms would probably be good songs to sum up the feel of the album.
    GodzillaDeth
    Jsteele1408 wrote: bokma wrote: I heard the song Digital Veil on youtube I thought it was pretty pathetic. To me, it was generic metalcore with wanky riffs thrown in that had no flow whatsoever. I know I can't judge the album as whole until I listen to the whole thing though, of course. Yeah, that song is pretty much the "black sheep" of the album. I'm not saying it's bad, but it's not like any of the other songs on the album, really. I'd say Patterns or Complex Terms would probably be good songs to sum up the feel of the album.
    the very first song i heard by them was faust and i thought it was fantastic but i heard the song digital veil and i was disappointed cause it was really generic
    SweeTDeviL889
    I would replace my autographed copy of this album in a heartbeat.
    ....Really now?? what do you want for it?
    EpiExplorer
    This is nothing, its just every metalcore fans wet dream with added guitar wank. And yes I have listened to it.