Written by Alex Stojanovic
Intentions Vs. Reality
The Human Zoo
Body Parts For Sale
Power To The Sheeple
So Much Go
The Hero Is The Villain
Dinner With Demons
What You Think You Become
Harder For The Martyr
Mourning For Life
Dying At The Speed Of Life
Release Date: February 20, 2018
James Sheehan - Drums, guitars, bass & vocals
Matti Meri-Huhti - Lead guitars
As the album begins with "Intensions Vs. Reality", the first thing heard is the crackling you would hear when you're putting the needle down on a vinyl, followed by an eerie symphonic intro that gives off the vibe of a superhero movie theme song, and it slams to the pummeling galloping riffage of "The Human Zoo". At first when I heard the drum sound, I thought they were recorded from a drum programming software, but James told me they were recorded on an electronic drum kit, which to me is much better than recording the drums from the software. That's just the musician in me talking. I like it when things are kept pure. At least with an electronic drum kit, you're actually playing something, but I digress.
Vocally, Sheehan brings in a couple of different styles from aggressive grunts to some pretty dark melodic vocals. In certain songs, the vocal style kind of matches with the title of the song. For example, "Professor Pain" sounds like the perfect name for a superhero movie villain, and the vocals get the imagination to create an image of a villain. The sky is the limit for the caricature of Professor Pain. In my head, I'm visualizing someone that looks like Dr. Doom wearing a lab coat. The song could serve as the perfect theme song for the character, and the vocals would be coming from Professor Pain himself.
The running order of the songs is interesting because the songs are split into five groups of three, with one instrumental introducing the section, and followed by two heavy tracks. This gives the album a bit of a conceptual vibe. "Intensions Vs. Reality", "Megalodon", "The Hero Is The Villain", "Icarus" and "Mourning For Life" are all short instrumentals that set up the succeeding section of three songs. All the instrumental tracks create visuals of different moods, whether it's one that hangs you on the edge of your seat like the anticipation of a big battle, or something a little more depressing like a scene in a movie where the main character is shedding tears while mourning the loss of a friend or loved one and reminiscing about the good memories they shared together. "Mourning For Life" in particular, creates the latter type of visual and mood, and I could feel the music tugging at my emotional strings, while "Megalodon" creates the former visual of the imminence of a battle.
As the song transitions into "Dying At The Speed Of Life", it starts off with a clean intro, but the heaviness slowly creeps in with a machine-gun riff and double-bass pattern, followed by a thrashy verse section that leads into a fast-paced but soaring chorus, giving off a dark power metal vibe. Coming out of a song with a pretty melancholic vibe into a heavier song with thrashy riffs and drumming is always a weird transition. This would also be the last heavy track on the album, as we get one more moody instrumental with "Eternal Eyes", which clocks in at slightly over a minute and closes out the album. It contains a vibe similar to "Mourning For Life", but for some reason, it feels a bit more uplifting. Much like at the start of the album where you heard the crackling of the needle making contact with the spinning vinyl, as the song fades out, the crackling is heard once again for a quick second as the needle lifts off the vinyl, ending the record.
The only slight flaw with the album is that sometimes, the symphonic touch in the background in some songs didn't seem to always fit. As the heaviness was going in full force with galloping and grooving riffs, the symphonic undertone seemed like a weird mixture. Aside from this minor flaw, The Human Zoo is a great work of art that gets the listener to use their imagination and create visuals in their heads that match the moods of the songs. I will say that the album didn't hook me instantly on the first listen because there's quite a bit to absorb, so I needed to give it a few spins, but the record managed to slowly start hooking me the more I listened to it. As I mentioned above, Sterling Winfield mixed the album. If that wasn't enough to peak your interest in checking out Amplitusion's The Human Zoo, hopefully my review will serve as a testimony as to why you should check it out. Get your imaginations ready and enjoy some killer soundtrack metal!
Highs: Solid music and vocals that gets the imagination working.
Lows: The symphonic background music in certain songs didn't always seem like it fit.
Final Rating: 8/10