Humanfly – Awesome Science review
by Rich Price
Leeds based Humanfly have been going 12 years, and have gradually evolved their sound over time from their original punk sound through to post-metal. Although anyone familiar with 2010’s excellent ‘Darker Later’ will be aware that their brand of post-metal did have healthy chunk of punk attitude and some absolutely monster riffs too: the atmospherics were often kept separate.
I’ll be honest when hearing that their new album was a prog beast I wasn’t sure what to expect. ‘Awesome Science’ however is a great album, its prog Jim but not as we know it. There’s immediacy here, and a complexity and inventiveness which is exciting to hear, and if anything the monster riffs are even better.
It harks back to the solid song construction of bands that weren’t following a blue print and just did what they wanted. Humanfly can do what they want, so they are going to. It’s like a strange hybrid of Voivod at their most reflective, ‘Planet caravan’ style early Black Sabbath, and more than a passing nod to the psychedelic space rock of Ozric Tentacles when they’re in full flow.
Opening track ‘Golden Arrows’, Starts of relaxed and mellow, building and building and fantastic vocals from John Sutcliffe, there is a dreamlike atmosphere being built. It increases in intensity and complexity, the pace increasing.
Three minutes in that all changes, starting with some nice snare drum work, and then Humanfly start to show off and flex their musical muscle, and start to play with what they are doing. The results are simply stunning.
Some really exciting work and lots of changes, this is a song bursting with fresh ideas without being pretentious, there’s a classic feel to this track, yet at the same time it’s fresh. It’s not cliché ridden, it’s the classic feel because they’re doing whatever they want because it sounds good, because there’s no such thing as genre here, and this is just music. You’re not quite sure what to expect and are left listening wondering what they’ll come up with next.
The following track ‘A Majestic Story’, brings us back down initially with some quiet reverbed vocals floating ethereally over the songs with soaring space rock guitars, before bringing it back up again with those great riffs which Humanfly do so very well. Which will have anyone punching the air and saying ‘oh yes’. The mood ebbs and flows and pulses with a life of its own.
By ‘The apple that never fell’ the pace has well and truly built up by track three, which is a sonic masterpiece. All underpinned by a rock solid Bass Groove, and drum work allowing the rest of the song to flow organically around you. Featuring hazy Sci-fi sounds, Scratchy distorted guitars, spacey guitars, building and building, twisting and turning like a maze, being bombarded by some stunning riffs, before falling quiet for a moment and then Boom here come the riffs.
Humanfly always played great riffs with power and precision, but by making the contrast between this and their more atmospheric side more apparent, it really does mean that some of the riffs hit like a ton of bricks, a ton of awesome bricks.
‘Poetry of light’, continues the formula laid out by previous tracks and starts of quietly with more of the almost math rock drumming and time changes.
‘The armour of science’ is the longest track and most metallic of the tracks, unlike the other tracks doesn’t start slow but starting off straight away with some frenetic drumming, and building from there instead.
Probably the closest sounding track to their style on ‘Darker Later’ and initially straying close to Mastodon territory but again in Humanfly’s own way, which means the comparison is superficial at best, this is an innovation for them in their use of dynamics and not a mere imitation of someone else. However of the course of the song any comparisons with Mastodon are lost and it once more take full flight into a true epic of a song, leaving you almost in a trance by the end of it.
Final track ‘Frozen In Time, Billions of Light years away’ is back to the style of the first two tracks, some lovely drum work and it a more than fitting end to a very accomplished album. It finishes on such a high that you automatically want to listen to it immediately again.
Opening track ‘Golden Arrows’, Starts of relaxed and mellow……. Oh hang on, no must not listen to it more than six times per day, and should really go to work.
I’m still not entirely by the prog label, but then this doesn’t neatly fit into any boxes well, and nor should the true great work. The classic feel is reminiscent of a time when music was free from pigeon holes and absurd genre names and it has such a fresh and vibrant quality as a result.
Awesome science is aptly named, a huge departure from their previous work. It really has an emotional resonance to it, you know by the end you’ve listened to something special. A tour de force and easily Humanfly’s best release to date, I cannot wait to catch them live again.
A word of warning, the album is so captivating it’s probably best to set an emergency alarm in case you need to be anywhere within the next few hours as it really can suck you into it and just leave you wanting to listen to it several times in a row.
Awesome science is released on the 11th of February on Brew Records
Pre-order here: http://www.brewrecords.bigcartel.com/
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