That’s one clunky album title but actually that’s Ok as this is one clunky album. Continuing on their everlasting quest to pick out the obscure and unfathomable, Italian label I, Voidhanger always manage to keep us on our toes and their latest trio of releases (this along with Selcouth and Les Chants Du Hasard) have certainly done just that. I ended up with In Human Form from Lowell, Massachusetts and this is their second full length album following on from independent release ‘Earthen Urn’ in 2015. Narratively we are told this is all about the mysteries of life and death and they are summoned up in a somewhat complex musical form that is as difficult to define as the subject matter itself.
The album basically consists of three short instrumental pieces that could be looked upon as bridges to the three main tracks, each of which sprawl out at around the 15 minute mark. You could call this progressive black metal and it is certainly not without avant-garde sensibilities. There are plenty of jazz like structures here too so you should be aware that you are not in for a particularly easy ride here. On first play I did not like this at all but on repeated spins it unveiled an inner charm and as I started to make more sense of it I found it wasn’t quite as obtuse and difficult to get at grips with as I had first found and feared.
After an ominous short intro piece “All Is Occulted by Swathes of Ego” sits us down on the psychiatrist’s chair and unspools sounding in desperate need of therapy. Rhythms are choppy and change shape but not in too much of a way to completely lose and perplex the listener, sure things are out there and motifs as things progress remind a little of various acts such as Krallice, Virus, Obsequiae and even a touch of Opeth on the last number but you can keep up with it all. Also the mix is not dense and layered and allows easy definition of each and every instrument, so you can also follow their own structures and paths, from the bouncing drum patterns, to lurching grooves and thick bass lines. Then we get to the vocals from Patrick Dupras, which screech and shriek in what I first thought of as ill-defined and childish fashion. As I got more used to them though they do fit in and my original harsh view-point has definitely been tempered. There are also some weird and no doubt obscure spoken word parts, poetic they may well be but I can’t make out anything of what is being said or yelled vocally and reading the accompanying lyric sheet is enough to give most people a headache.
Acoustic parts, strange and occasional sinister tones and ever shifting twisty-turning shapes flavour this trip and it is definitely one that the musos, beard-strokers and the general insane fringes of society should enjoy the most. I get the impression the musicians behind it are doing things for themselves rather than anyone else though and certainly not for anything in the way of commercial benefit and I guess that makes it all the more intriguing, getting caught up in their weird and wonderfully fractured world.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)