Sound — 10
The Human Abstract is a relatively new band in the progressive/metal/hardcore scene. But that certainly doesn't stop them from being an interestingly original and talented group. I found out about them when I was looking through Myspace for innovative artists. Then, a fateful click on THA's profile quickly blossomed into an obsession. I immediately went out and bought Nocturne, but only after listening through all of the tracks presented on their Myspace player quite a few times. Their first full-length album showcases the dueling guitars of A.J. Minette and Dean Herrera, melting in with the raging yells, screams, and melodies of Nathan Ells. A.J. is a guitar prodigy, pulling off complex and rapid riffs, scales, technical progressions, and complex solos. Bassist Kenny Aerhart and drummer Brett Powell keep the beat steady for the rest of the band. From there, the university music theory training of Minette's really shines. All instruments integrate into an exploding rush, strangely reminiscent of classical elements as well as being very much metal.
Lyrics — 9
Nathan Ells' volatile vocal ideas aren't quite there for you to absorb in completeness and still be sane. With a name from a British poet, an album named after a form of classical composition, and song names in Latin and/or concerning concepts of life, the content of the vocals aren't exactly surprising. The focus is of living's troubles, betrayals, losses, confrontations, challenges, pressures, and the simple act of surviving. Ells' vocals range from harmonious whispers, abrasive growls, committed yells, to old-fashioned singing. Although I have to say that singing is definitely not the strongest point of THA, it holds it's own in the cyclone of musicianship. Song listing: 01. Harbinger - it starts acoustic, but quickly, the progressive metal sound breaks through. Simple vocals complement scale-like guitar shredding. It is a perfect introduction to the rest of the album. Portrayal of an awakening and a new beginning. 02. Self Portraits Of The Instincts - the track which I have the most trouble listening to. The ideas present are good, but they don't integrate nearly as well as the other songs. Random abstract ideas that compose humanity's dark side. 03. Nocturne - perfect choice for title track. It is definitely the most progressive song on the CD. Each instrument does it's own act while Ells' pulls off his best vocal performance (on Nocturne). All of the pieces fall together to make a masterpiece of a song. Forget 'em. Honestly, just enjoy the song. 04. Crossing The Rubicon - the second catchiest vocal work on Nocturne. More progressive and technical elements are present. Guitars take slightly more of a background. About revenge, respect, and hardening of the soul. 05. Sotto Voce - an instrumental. Don't skip over this song, though; it leads into Mea Culpa nicely and also is a great experience in it's own. 06. Mea Culpa - undeniably, the most likable song here. The metal takes more of a background as a more alternative/punk atmosphere takes over. It is the best song to start THA with. The tipping of the scales and relationships. 07. Movement From Discord - ups the energy from Mea Culpa. Perhaps it is the heaviest song on Nocturne (but maybe not - you decide). This song can really get your adrenaline up. Concerns heroism and the pressure of meeting expectations. 08. Channel Detritus - one of the best songs on the album. This track has the most unclean vocals (which still isn't too much, mind you). Determination, overcoming challenges. 09. Polaris - my favorite song by THA. It contains the best guitar work in the album. "Face the change." Take action over inaction (don't be lazy). 10. Echelons To Motolovs - fairly good. The ingenuity still shines through clearly even though the bulb is gathering dust. The powers of the rich and influential. 11. Desiderata - another instrumental. This one is longer and changes a few times. The piano outro at the end is sometimes heard with the beginning of Vela, Together We Await the Storm. Don't skip this track either. This is where the bulb of ingenuity is cleaned. 12. Vela, Together We Await The Storm - a great song. The light shines clearly. More personal feelings are expressed by the band through the vocals and the harsh screaming at the beginning is a welcome addition. The end fades with "Gone, so many friends and lovers/So far, nothing to show in turn" being repeated over and over, leaving you feeling empty yet fulfilled in the experience of experiencing Nocturne.
Overall Impression — 10
The Human Abstract is a progressive metal band, with some hardcore, mathcore, alternative, and classical influences. The sound is big, abrasive, over-the-top. Insanely difficult guitar parts are swept through by the guitarists A.J. Minette and Dean Herrera. Growling and melodic vocals and supplied by Nathan Ells. The bassist is Kenny Aerhart, and Brett Powell is counting to four on drums. Classical-influenced metal, with yells, screams, growls, and clean vocals. Guitars play scale-based and other theory based progressions and solos. Riffs are energetic, diverse, and complicated. Great musicianship is certainly one of THA's noble qualities. Songs are catchy, yet progressive. Listening to Nocturne is like sleeping. The dreams feature monsters of living, and serene images of random things. Everything is wrapped together so it feels right; however, as you look closer, it all explodes into your face and the stunning beauty of it all surrounds. And then you wake up, and you think, "Let's do that again."