Friday, May 10, 2013

In Human Form- "Earthen Urn" (Self-Released)

Released on January 10th of this year, In Human Form's "Earthen Urn" is probably the first truly great album of this year. This release and group were recommended to me from a musician friend whose taste I respect and trust greatly, and with the obvious nod to Death in their name I had to give them a listen. I was quite pleased. In Human Form (hereafter referred to as IHF) craft a progressive, urgent, and well-put together blend of aggressive black metal with songs that often pass the ten minute mark yet never feel like they've overstayed their welcome. While some of my readership may not often have the desire to hear more intricate approaches to black metal, this group maintains a lo-fi and pure aesthetic while allowing their music to spiral out of control.

The album opens with the pace-setting "Cognitive Reconnaissance" which runs the gamut from epic black metal to (appropriately enough) Schuldiner-worshiping solos to punk-inspired minimalism all within one track. I've always been a fan of albums that take me for a journey, so it's great to see that IHF manage to do that successfully within each of the six songs on this album. Another thing that really makes IHF stand out to me is their thorough and planned approach to writing lyrics. It's a small thing to many, but as someone who has sung in bands myself, I feel it's crucial to try to make the lyrical direction unique and special. There are a few places on this album where I feel like strings creep into the music, although the only band member description listed that might cover it is "samples," so I'm curious to learn the nature of these sounds, as I feel they lend themselves quite nicely to the bleak melodies they accompany. A personal favorite moment of mine on this album (if for no reason other than how intriguing and strange it is) is the instrumental dark ambient passage "Prisms of Now." As IHF are hardly a noise-based act, I'm curious to know more about this song and how its influences may creep into the background of the other songs. On an album where aggressive riffing with piercing howls is just as commonplace and natural as a soothing saxophone interlude, it's really hard to label or define IHF, and that is the band's greatest strength. Everything feels natural, yet nothing is predictable. If only most bands this ambitious could pull it off so well.

Copies of this ferocious and involved album are apparently available for purchase from the band through email/their facebook (link above) or you can purchase a download from their bandcamp page. While this one isn't available for free, it's definitely worth the price of admission. Whether you're a music geek looking for technically sound music or just a fan of diverse and bizarre black metal, you'll be quite pleased with this album.

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