Band: In Human Form
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Genre: Progressive Black Metal
Country: United States of America
Release Date: December 13th, 2019
In Human Form is a five-piece from Lowell, Massachusetts that has been writing steadily more Progressive Black Metal since their inception in 2006. I happened upon this group when seeing them live sometime around the release of their first full-length Earthen Urn, this coincidentally was also the first time I had ever seen a Black Metal band live; I was completely floored by the sonic tornado presented on stage, and later became infatuated with all of the EPs, splits, as well as the full-length available at the time. From there I spent many hours poring over their music, trying to re-live that mystical transportation they achieved on stage that night. Their music was transcendental and Earthen Urn became a frequently returned to the album whenever I needed something grand yet bleak.
Their follow-up Opening of the Eye by the Death of the I caught me by surprise when it was announced and I took no time at all devouring every last second of that masterwork. Their synthesis of Black Metal and Progressive Rock/Metal was furthered; it was as if they had spent the intervening years in solitude refining their alchemistic craft. I, Voidhanger handled that release, as well as III, out on December 13th just in time to mess up year-end lists for those interested in this particular cross-section of subgenres. III is In Human Form’s best release by a mile and the finest representation of the best parts of Progressive Rock/Metal and harsh Black Metal.
In Human Form employs the talents of Richard Dixon on drums, Nick Clark and Dave Kaminsky on guitars, Shalin Shah on bass, and Patrick Dupras on vocals. The vocals Patrick delivers are harsh shrieks invoking visions of banshees that blends naturally with Black Metal and goes against the grain for the more Prog-Rock sections but in the most satisfying way; a harsh whisper is also utilized in some of the slower sections, adding a creepy atmosphere and reinforcing the story-telling aspect of the band. Richard Dixon is a great drummer, blending like a chameleon into every unusual twist this music throws at him; effortless speed and precision as he covers every inch of the kit with a jazzy approach.
Shalin Shah creates a slick low-end that slithers within the backdrop of the proceedings, and though it is never really showy it is essential especially in the more progressive or jazz-inspired moments. The guitars from Nick Clark and Dave Kaminsky can arguably be called the star of this album, as they bound skillfully between tremolo riffing, exquisite solos, and calmer passages. The way the guitars sound needs to be mentioned and kudos given to all involved, because every tiny aspect of them is pitch-perfect. Opening of the Eye was a favorite album of mine but the way every part of the guitars sounded the same gave that album a slightly flat tone. III eliminates this problem, when a solo bursts through the tone is elevated, giving it the center-stage it deserves.
Apocrypha Carrion is unforgiving and blistering right from the offset but has so many different facets to it that it would be folly to attempt a detailed description; the song is long and engaging as it moves through several organic evolutions, and by the time the sax comes in you’re too far down the rabbit hole to think that this was anything other than the cherry on top. Following is Weeping Stones which is another evolving song, beginning with a spoken-word poem over the music, which gradually grows in intensity from a relaxed jazzy feel into more frenetic music until it all explodes in a crescendo. Closing the album is Canonical Detritus, another epic that defies logic and time; I’ve listened to this song in its entirety many times, and with every play, the hours on the clock just melt away.
III is far and away the best album I’ve heard this year, and I’ve listened to more this year than any previous. In Human Form has perfected their freakish science experiment in fusing the best and darkest from Progressive anything, Jazz, and Black Metal. I did an experiment with this release too; I listened to it and instantly loved it, so I put it on the shelf for a bit then returned to it, and I still loved it. In a year where a few superficially similar bands released new albums, this is the one you need to be paying attention to.
1. Apocrypha Carrion
2. Weeping Stones
3. Canonical Detritus
Total Playing Time: 47:09