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Human Ground
Human Ground

And so my recent tour of Estonian metal that saw me flirt with pagan brilliance, (Metsatöll), modern rock (Loom) and Nu metal (Eastern Trading Wang), climaxes with a superb female fronted, progressive melodic death/thrash metal outfit. A comparison can be made to Arch Enemy, but not just because of petite yet visceral femme fatale Pille Rand in the fray. The guitars of Tarvo Valm and Sven Varkel have a very Amott-ish gleam to them. Another band that sprung to mind, especially due to Valm’s clean vocal approach and the band’s more artistic lean is Germany’s Disillusion.

With a pristine Finnvoxx production, Human Ground shimmers with European luster and delivers a typically Scandinavian take on melodic death metal; it's robustly artful, solo laden and meticulously played without being overbearing. Much like Angela Gossow, Rand has force and presence without hammering home the feminine aspect while Valm offsets her screams and growls with a fatherly austerity.

Something about this album’s clarity and skill makes me wants to be lazy and tell you fuckers to just go find the album and inhale its eloquent sounds and but I also feel the need to give the band some well deserved recognition. I’ll admit the first few seconds of opener “Head Between the Bones” with its Slipknot-ish percussive rant had me a bit worried, but the songs soon opens up into a flourishing, solo filled track of sublime, genre based brilliance.

The heavy rock throb of “Waiting” gives way to some rollicking thrash riffage and soulful clean croons from Valm; the complete package is here folks, trust me. The pace is initially picked up for the urgent gallop of “Down to the Roots”, but the track loses the intensity and replaces it with a more complex, stuttering approach, that while musically competent, lets down on the tracks early promise. “Evening”, “Wrath of Ages” and “The Black Rainbow” is where the Disillusion reference came into play for their mid paced gait and its soothing tones and elegant guitar work, but still delivered with thrash metal’s snarl.

“Wars Won’t” strikes a more menacing pose early on before an superb acoustic segue shows Human Ground’s lighter side. No fear though, Human Ground do have the capability to thrash it up as displayed on “Carrier of the Remains”, “Can a Prophet be Wrong?” and “Giving a Finger”’ all tracks that bristle with Neo thrash chunk and NWSDM eloquence. Still, Human Ground seems more intriguing when they deliver more thoughtful, progressive tracks like the title track and “Love Song”.

Human Ground is an incredibly promising and complete album that should put the band as well Estonia on the metal map. It’s deliberately sided with recognized metal paradigms, but injected with a fresh faced un–jaded approach to the genre that seems energized and refreshed. Good stuff.

Author: Erik Thomas
Zine: DigitalMetal.Com

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