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DieHumane: The Grotesque

I'm annoyingly vocal about the things I don't enjoy. Stop me (or just skip ahead a bit in the review) if I've been down this river before, but my wife has to frequently remind me to be on my best behavior when discussing music with friends or even new acquaintances. I'm not trying to be malicious, and I respect everyone's right to listen to whatever floats their boats. I just have no filter for these things and kind of expect people to just know it's not a "you" problem that I hate what you listen to, it's a "me" problem. With that said, one of my absolute biggest pet peeves in the world of music is music that is weird for the sake of it. Never been a fan of Zappa, Primus, Mr. Bungle, although I certainly respect the hell out of them all (to varying degrees). Knowing this about myself, the debut album from DieHumane, The Grotesque certainly didn't give me a great first impression. A supergroup consisting of ex-members of Type O Negative, Exodus, and others; DieHumane take a modern metal base and supplement it with bizarre instrumentation and twisted atmosphere. It's a trip.

The Grotesque kind of listens like a disturbing soundtrack to a mid to late 90's film about drugs that makes you feel dirty and greasy. You know, like Trainspotting or Requiem for a Dream. This is definitely a hard rock/heavy metal album at it's core, but there's so much randomness on display here that I wouldn't really feel comfortable calling it much else. "Unadulterated Weirdness" doesn't really have a great ring to it, but that would work ok in a pinch. There's constant stopping and starting in these songs, with tone shifts on a dime and plenty of unexpected instrumentation to have you scratching your head. In addition to the usual suspects (guitar/bass/drums), you can expect a barrage of piano, violin, and especially saxophone. There's porno sax all over this release, and I'll never really understand how it fits in with a heavy rock band, but the contrast is somewhat unsettling which I have to assume is what these guys were going for. While the Sax tends to confuse me, the violin sounds absolutely lovely most of the time and actually delivers some truly haunting and unexpectedly beautiful moments from time to time.

The songs themselves don't have much cohesion aside from the fact that they are all pretty weird and atmospheric. The guitar solos are well done, and much to my surprise they are performed by ex-Exodus guitarist Rick Hunolt, who shows a staggering amount of range and emotion with his performances here. He runs the gamut from metallic, note-dense wizardry to jazzy or bluesy bits depending on the track. The vocals are pretty all over the place, as one would expect from an "avant-garde" band like this. Singer Garret West can do it all; from growls to bluesy croon. He tends to settle most on a modern radio rock kinda delivery, though. Not really what you would expect from a band this out there, but perhaps that's why he does it. There's plenty of interludes/intros between the songs proper on here, and they do a good job of setting the mood for the ensuing insanity, generally focusing on one of the more unique instruments the band pulls out of their bag of tricks. It's all very strange, and like I said, almost reminiscent of the soundtrack from an art film that ends very poorly for everyone. And somehow, I find myself intrigued by it all, which is the biggest surprise of all to be had here.

While there's little to no memorability to be had with any of the tracks here, there's a certain mood and atmosphere on The Grotesque that has to be experienced to be understood. There's so much going on, and so many ideas being thrown at you at all times, but the album as a whole manages to keep an even, unsettling and dark menace throughout. It just feels like something could go wrong at get downright depraved at any second, and while that's not exactly something I tend to want in my music (or everyday life), it does result in an interesting listen. I doubt I'd go back to this, but as a one off experience it was intriguing and, at times, kind of beautiful. If you are into the darker side of industrial rock or have a jonesing for something avant-garde and menacing, you might get a kick out of this.

1. The Executively Dysfunctional
2. King of Nothing (The Bruiser)
3. Standing At The Edge Of Forever
4. Shell Shock
5. The Death Knell
6. Epitaph
7. Oblivion
8. The Vanishing
9. Ghosts
10. Aphasia
11. Nevermind
12. Crossroads
13. The Descent
14. The Devil Sings
15. Sparrows
16. Skeletons
17. Stardust Blues

Added: June 17th 2023
Reviewer: Brandon Miles
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1392
Language: english

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