Humangled - Odd Ethics EP
2012 Abyss Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
Fourteen minutes, crushed and maimed for your manic pleasure. Italian death experimentalists Humangled have essentially been in and out of the scene since 1996 with primary components Andrew Goreds and Luke Scurb representing the original incarnation of the band. Returning in 2006 and bulking up to a five-piece to conjure their 2010 full-length debut, Fractal, the new Humangled has quickly won praise in the death underground. This year, Humangled serves up an oscillating four song EP, Odd Ethics, and the praise continues to be heaped upon this band.
It's pretty easy to see why with Humangled's beastly riffs and gutsy swerves into doom, black metal, rawk, cowpunk and Pantera-esque proto power measures. To call Humangled a death metal band is accurate, yet it's not. Andrew Goreds huffs his esophagus dry while Luke Scurb and Vhell Miscarriage shred the bejeesus out of their lines. Bassist Frank Hichols and drummer Fred Valdaster are total madmen of their positions. All of it combined to spew death metal mayhem as you like it, but there's a twisted unpredictability to Odd Ethics that keeps you hitting the repeat button.
"Needles of the Blind" may have you thinking it's going to settle into mere blasting modes, but then you're redirected into a doom-heavy breakdown followed by an uptempo bit of shitkicking on the choruses. This spills into the following track, "Skinned, To Feel All," a nasty bit of business with a Southern boogie kick operating as the primary groove. "Skinned, To Feel All" then shifts tones with crunky choruses and horror dirges, feeling like Pantera-meets-Botch-meets-Death.
"Smells Acrid" steps on the gas with some gnarly double-hammer plus a gory mix of Cannibal Corpse and the barest whiffs of Celtic Frost and dare we say, even Voivod. Signature swaps galore here, but nothing compared to the final track, "Deny Your Creed." The proggy intro is hardly indicative of where the song is actually headed. Even the first bar of the song gives no real hint, either. This one is a complex metal stew filled with more variables than its base meat and potatoes. There are many extra spices to Humangled's molten gravy on "Deny Your Creed," which they stir up and let their listeners try to discern each component as they can.
There are random bits of choppiness to Odd Ethics yet the songs are still written well. They challenge, engage and defy categorical segregation. If this group tightens up just another hair on the next go-round, then get the hell out of their way...