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Humanity Zero : Proselytism

A disjointed mix of heavier and softer Death/Doom leaves Humanity Zero's fifth album slightly below their full potential.

'Proselytism' is the fifth full-length release of Greece’s Humanity Zero. Having been quietly impressed by the preceding release, 'Withered In Isolation', I was curious to see what the band would bring to the table on this album. For example, not many bands that I’ve listened to seem to fuse the violin in with Death/Doom, which is what happened on Humanity Zero’s last album. I see they’ve not ditched their misanthropic, unnecessarily long song titles though. There’s nothing quite like consistency, I suppose, and I have to admit that, 'The Black Goat In The Woods With A Thousand Young' is certainly one of the most unique, bizarre, and question- inducing song titles I’ve ever come across.

Anyway, the start of this album sounded an awful lot like its predecessor - annoying drum setup, brooding atmosphere, good harsh vocals. I immediately became a tad concerned that the band hadn’t opted to change anything at all but it became apparent that they’d adopted a more ‘sinister’ approach to their compositions on 'Proselytism'. The riff at the start of 'Ruler Of The Ultimate Void Of Chaos' was a fine example of such. It could have walked straight off Cathedral’s 'The Ethereal Mirror' - that’s how much I liked it.

The problem with playing a darker style of music is that it involves a stricter approach in order to pull it off; more discipline, if you will. I think you can get away with a more laid-back approach with either simpering sadness, joy, or raw aggression than you can with a sinister composition. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure that Humanity Zero have quite realised that on 'Proselytism', nor that switching styles away from such during the album is not beneficial, which is what ultimately happened as the album progressed.

Don’t get me wrong; there are some very enjoyable elements on this album. Indeed, I’d go as far as to say that I’ve heard enough over two albums to know that I like the band overall. They’ve got a lot of ticks in most of my boxes. However, the conflicting styles they’ve unleashed on 'Proselytism' sounds like it’s been done in a rash, over-zealous fashion, which really aren’t terms that I tend to associate with Humanity Zero. What I mean by that is that the band switches between atmospheres too often in a rather clumsy manner that is bereft of eloquence, significantly lessening the effects of both. For example, I am a huge fan of violin use in music I listen to, but I think it’s incredibly difficult to squeeze that into a sinister kind of atmosphere - yet the band have persevered in doing so, which doesn’t sound particularly good. Their use of keys is good; I’m a fan of that. The violin, as well as occasional Death Metal bursts, however, don’t work with the atmosphere the band appears to be leaning toward here.

I actually think it’s a real shame that it’s not worked out as well here because some of the riffs on this release are right up my street. They’re the kind of riffs that I tend to refer to as, 'Doom grooves', as bizarre as that probably sounds. All I basically mean by that is that they involuntarily make you tap along/join in with the music in some fashion. Humanity Zero have produced some outstanding Doom grooves on 'Proselytism', to be blunt. Not only that, but their violin passages are absolutely beautiful, and the piano pieces on the album are very enjoyable too, so I’m genuinely quite sad that I can’t give the overall album rating a particularly high mark for its collective output because the positives are predominantly individual.

That said, I was pleased when I found that the early drum sounds on the album gradually faded as the prevalence of keys diminishes the damage done by such as they’re the overwhelming force behind the music on 'Proselytism'. Again, I think that the vocal performance of Kydoimos is good, although he’s arguably a bit too close to the microphone at times. The guitarwork is very impressive when it comes to making the music sound intense, brooding, or wild. The mix is mostly good too. What the band does is very creative, and I don’t get the impression that anything but their song titles are random so there are certainly more positives than negatives.

However, the negatives are rather important ones, I’m truly sorry to say. To me, it sounds like the band tried to take their music a shade darker with their more venomous, powerful riffs. After a few tracks though, they drifted back toward their most My Dying Bride 'Like Gods Of The Sun' approach. For me, both approaches work just fine on their own but not on the same album. There needs to be a clearly defined direction to an album or a very subtle, almost unnoticeable juxtaposition between the two styles, and this album has neither. Therefore, it sounds disjointed and paints a glum picture of what I personally think is a really impressive band with a lot of potential.

To summarise, I’m gutted that I can’t give this Death/Doom album an 8 or a 9. If there were a more clearly designed path/direction on the album (i.e. just one of the two styles) then that’s easily what they’d have gotten from me. However, because they’ve tried to fuse the two, rather unsuccessfully in my book, I’ve had to lower the overall score. Yet another release laden with promise by Greece’s Humanity Zero, but whether they’ll ever truly realise their potential or not remains to be seen. They’re definitely a band I’ll be keeping tabs on though.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Celebrating The Opener Of The Way
2. Ruler Of The Ultimate Void Of Chaos
3. The Slumbering One
4. The God Of The Bloody Tongue
5. Nightmare Corpse-City
6. The Black Goat In The Woods With A Thousand Young
7. Thou Shalt Emerge
8. Dark Angel Of The Four Wings

Duration : Approx. 54 minutes

Visit the Humanity Zero bandpage.

Reviewed on 2020-04-17 by Ian Morrissey
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