Human Future are one of those bands that specialise in all the nebulous 'post' genres - punk, hardcore, metal: the genres that tried to break with what had come before and which all ride that line between melody and noise where so much great music lives. But what can start as a movement to tear down what came before can sometimes lead to a new set of 'rules' being made, and new orthodoxies being established.
The press release says that the label Truthseeker Music was established with the explicit aim of not releasing anything predictable and mostly Spectrum avoids this stated pitfall, even though it does feature all the elements you might expect from the post-hardcore/alternative metal world. That is to say: long songs with complicated, non-traditional structures; a mix between melodic and brutally atonal riffs; mostly shouted vocals with some serious-sounding spoken word sections.
Another potential problem with this kind of music is that it can sound a little too cold and calculated - proficiency for the sake of it. Sometimes it can leave one unmoved, as songs feel like a succession of ideas welded together with little thought to the progression. Getting rid of traditional song structures doesn’t mean that your music doesn’t have to flow. And, although Spectrum succumbs to this couple of occasions, the ideas are mostly good enough for this not to be too much of an issue. Like I said, all the right individual elements are there but it’s the way that they’re put together that is most important, and on this front Human Future are a little hit-and-miss.
Final track ‘Creation Wish’ best shows what I’m trying to say here. At twelve-and-a-half minutes it’s the longest song by a good measure and it has a lot of great ideas, building from one peak to the next with expertise. However, one can’t quite shake off the idea that it’s simply an extended version of one of the regular songs. Spectrum’s first, and second-best, track ‘Forge’ does more or less everything ‘Creation Wish’ does, including a long build to an epic finale, but in less than half the time. ‘Creation Wish’ also pulls an odd trick where, just as you think the final big climax of the album is coming, it fades out to two minutes of buzz-flattening weird noise, a somewhat limp ending to quite a powerful record. At least you couldn’t call it predictable.
Spectrum is an album that evokes mixed feelings in me, as you have probably worked out by now. It’s really a record of two halves - opening salvo ‘Forge’ and ‘Misery Drone’ successfully establish a sound and then undisputed highlight ‘Cycle’ comes along and takes that sound to amazing new places. Built around a Jesus Lizard-doing-Krautrock-style riff it’s one of those special songs that takes a single idea and gradually adds to it and evolves it, creating a shifting, hypnotic piece whose nine minutes simply fly by. If you only listen to one thing from this album, make it this track.
After that nothing quite impresses as much. ‘All Must Wither’ and ‘Aberrations’, while both adding hints of new ingredients into the mix (black metal and jangly indie with a touch of stoner rock, respectively) don’t stand out quite as much, despite being perfectly serviceable. And then there’s the oddity that is ‘Creation Wish’. The album still holds together remarkably well as a whole, but the highlights do tend to come earlier on. There is a lot of excellent musicianship here, and a lot of good ideas, but the song structuring is, alas, a bit of a weak point. I feel bad being so critical of something with so much going for it, but sometimes music just doesn’t move you like it should.
6Joseph Rowan's Score