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The Human Abstract - "Digital Veil" (CD)

The Human Abstract - "Digital Veil" CD cover image

"Digital Veil" track listing:

1. Elegiac (2:12)
2. Complex Terms (5:10)
3. Digital Veil (3:30)
4. Faust (5:56)
5. Antebellum (7:29)
6. Holographic Sight (4:28)
7. Horizon To Zenith (4:19)
8. Patterns (3:43)

Reviewed by on March 31, 2011

"The band is at the summit of their creative peak, braving the uncertainty and doubtful eyes of their critics to leave no doubt to their vitality as a lasting unit."

The Human Abstract alienated a large portion of their audience with “Midheaven.” The loss of original guitarist A.J. Minette had a far greater effect than imagined. The band shifted away from a technical metal front to a melodic style punctuated by prominent keys and the off-kilter vocals of Nathan Ells. The second album had a polarizing response, but things began to look up for the band with a series of major line-up changes. First was the departure of Ells, then the return of Minette; the last one is especially important in the development of “Digital Veil.”

Fans of “Nocturne” who thought the band went soft with “Midheaven” will love the technical guitar work brought back into the mix. However, the band has not forgotten the experimental side of their last album, incorporating that in as well. Combining the best parts of the first two albums, coupled with Minette’s classical background puts forth a defining statement for The Human Abstract. The band is at the summit of their creative peak, braving the uncertainty and doubtful eyes of their critics to leave no doubt to their vitality as a lasting unit.

Travis Richter, of From First To Last fame, takes the reigns from Ells and outdoes him in almost every conceivable way. His harsh screams have a bite to them that was missing before, and his crisp singing will win over the fan base. Forget about the whiny, self-absorbed tone of Ells; Richter has power and poise behind each soaring note. This is the first time that Richter has really been able to expose this side of his vocals and it’s stunning to witness on “Complex Terms” and “Horizon To Zenith.”

Minette’s time away from the band allowed him to expand his musical knowledge, which is evident with the neo-classical guitar work. Minette’s fluid leads and captivating acoustic playing is part of his best performance to date. The beautiful instrumental “Elegiac” is one of the best starts to an album since “Enter The Hall” from Revocation’s “Existence Is Futile.” It prepares the listener for what’s to come in the next 35 minutes; speaking of which, if there was one glaring fault to “Digital Veil,” it’s that they just isn’t enough of it. The album wets the pallet for more, but at least there is no filler to hold the record down.

“Faust” and “Antebellum” are the premier songs on “Digital Veil,” both representations of how far the band has come since “Nocturne.” These back-to-back ambitious pieces encompass the evolution the band has gone through over the years. They are jam-packed with mind-numbing content, from lush piano breaks to catchy breakdowns to mesmerizing guitar harmonies. These tunes come after the beastly title track, which is one of the few that drops the progressive sheen for a outright vicious assault.

“Digital Veil” is a game changer for The Human Abstract, a sign that “Nocturne” was not just a fluke. This line-up is the most creatively viable, and the band sounds reinvigorated after the mixed “Midheaven.” This is the type of album that will not only appease the cries of sorrow over the direction of “Midheaven,” but should gain the band a new audience looking for an album that has a little something for everybody. “Digital Veil” is one of the best albums of the year so far, and shouldn’t be overlooked when the lists for best albums of 2011 are released.

Highs: Travis Richter's great vocals, A.J. Minette's much-needed return, classical element in guitar work, fantastic songwriting that is both mesmerizing and catchy

Lows: The album is slightly short, but that's not a huge low.

Bottom line: "Digital Veil" takes the best parts of everything The Human Abstract has done to date and creates what could be the band's magnum opus.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)