With a release on New Year’s Day, the debut EP from American death metal band Humanity’s End just barely edges into 2018. It wastes little time with intros or other fluff, and immediately hits hard with a seriously downtuned riff. Through the band’s heritage is American, their influences are obviously more Swedish in nature. For this reason, “Between Life And Death” often flips back and forth between punishing tremolo-picked riffs, and sludgier, crushing sections. The only major American characteristic on this record is a greater focus on songwriting. Many of the tracks on “Between Life And Death” are surprisingly memorable.
Of course, one reason why this album is more coherent and easier to follow than other similar releases is because the band’s growler has an incredibly clear rumble. Though his tone is a far cry from Corpsegrinder (Cannibal Corpse), he has a similar ability to enunciate well, resulting in many of the lyrics on this record being decipherable without aid. His best moments are when the band launches into a plodding groove of 8th notes (“Death’s Door” being the prime example) and his voice takes center stage. The ultimate highlight of the record is the closing epic “Man of the Cloth”. Musically, it isn’t significantly different from the start of the EP, but it shows the band incorporating samples to great effect on multiple occasions. This is something you don’t want spoiled, but it makes for a truly climactic end to the EP.
“Between Life And Death” is somewhat of a strange record because it’s hard to form a conclusion. On the one hand, the description above suggests that Humanity’s End is doing everything right. But on the other, I’m still not sold. As monolithically heavy as the EP gets at times, it also risks getting boring. There are a lot of slow, crushing parts, based around simplistic riffs. This release rarely gets the heartrate up, even in its faster moments. So even though Humanity’s End are clearly skilled songwriters, “Between Life And Death” doesn’t always strike that chord that makes death metal appealing to me. Fans of Swedeath will likely bow at the altar of this band nonetheless!
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“Man Of The Cloth”
3.6/5 or 72%.