The Human Abstract let the greatness that should have been theirs elude them on their last album Midhaven. They were the band that should have carried the torch from the likes of Thrice. They were Avenged Sevenfold’s ultra-nerdy brothers. They were heirs to the tech-metal throne. Here’s a couple reasons – guitarist and founding member AJ Minette had quit the band before the album was written, leaving a gaping maw in The Human Abstract’s sound: a battery of sweeps, arpeggios and a technician’s toolbox of six string heroics. Also, it had also become very clear that vocalist Nathan Elis was on “the outs” with the band. By all rights, The Human Abstract should have called it a day as the likes of Protest The Hero and Between The Buried and Me overtook their status as North American progressive metal major domos.
Now, witness the return of AJ Minette. Swoon guitar geeks. Swoon.
Thankfully The Human Abstract kept it together. Minette returned to the fold with new vocalist Travis Richter (ex-From First To Last) in tow and the Los Angeles band continued to make beautiful and often confoundingly complex music. Digital Veil is eight songs. The whole thing clocks in at just under forty minutes. At long last, The Human Abstract has made its statement. What was hinted at on their 2006 debut Nocturne is finally delivered upon. This thing is fucking epic.
The opening instrumental begins to tell the tale. It’s a quiet classical piece swells into something straight out of the Queen songbook. This is music that’s literally designed to be analyzed in guitar tabs by drooling Musician’s Institute students. That said, by the title track the meaty riff that drives the song does bring us back to the notion that The Human Abstract is indeed a metal band.
“Faust” does come off like its titular deal with the devil as it moves from section to section, overture to overture, piece to piece with little effort. The Digital Veil is quite the opposite of the Strum Und Drang the “C” word usually entails.
By the album’s final track, “Patterns”, The Human Abstract have more than made up for the sins of a sophomore slump. They’ve come together as a unit and aren’t merely trying to hold it together as they were on Midhaven. Now that we’ve given Minette more than his credit due, let’s not overlook Travis Richter. He not merely outbarks his predecessor but acrobatically jumps to a Matt Bellamy – esque croon that is new to the band’s arsenal. It’s clear that after a record their fans swore off and membership changes that would have sank lesser bands, The Human Abstract turned that chaos to their favor and have come with a record that is sure to hit year-end Top 10 lists. That’s a pretty mean feat considering it’s the beginning of March.