The Human Abstract - _Digital Veil_
(E1 Music, 2011)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (7.5 out of 10)
Many would agree that a different vocalist means a different band, but that's entirely left to how the inlet facilities of your music receptors work. A person's selective hearing can be so selective to the extent that it can't tell two entirely different vocalists apart. This is usually how I operate, and the vocalists who capture my attention are quite rare -- and those whose lyrics stick out to me are even fewer and further apart. Los Angeles' The Human Abstract have made quite a name for themselves with the release of album number two, _Midheaven_, in 2008, and the vocals on that album were one of its highlights; go back and listen to "Procession of the Fates" or "A Dead World at Sunrise" to get my point.

Three years later, this forward thinking prog-metal combo is back with _Digital Veil_ and a different vocalist with different capabilities. This time the deep growls are seriously deep, and the clean singing is very efficient and could rub some as too clean or too polished. The main advantage here is the extra vocal options The Human Abstract now have. Speaking of improvements, I feel compelled to point out that the drums on _Digital Veil_ sound like they have some depth to them, which could be the work of a different producer, or maybe it's a different drum set.

Proceedings are off to a very good start with a beautiful opening acoustic passage that explodes with soaring guitars, with a strong focus on the sense of the notes put together. The intriguing and unexpected transitions that made _Midheaven_ the exciting record that it is are also put to good use on _Digital Veil_, like on "Complex Terms", while the hardcore influences of the band shine more strongly than ever on the title track and "Holographic Sight". The guitarists have more than a few tricks up their sleeves, like the panned dual guitar licks on "Faust" and the brilliant arrangements of "Horizon to Zenith". The seven minute long "Antebellum" would be my favorite track from this album, thanks to its catchy melodies, vocal variety, powerful guitar work and the many emotions it explores.

I would agree with my dear friend who actually introduced me to this band a few years ago by saying that the album cover is actually quite amateur, and I would also add that they did a lot better than this one in the past. That of course doesn't affect the music in any way, which is what matters the most. _Digital Veil_ pulls its own weight quite easily and it has some very interesting ideas. If you are a fan of their earlier works, the degree of detachment you've developed to the old vocalist may affect how you digest this album. But on its own, _Digital Veil_ doesn't have a dull moment and nothing is recycled here. This is one for the year end lists.


(article published 19/4/2011)

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