The pandemic resulted is countless projects and collaborations, many of whom were uninspiring and vanished as soon as the world started opening up. Common for most of is that artists needed a creative outlet during the lockdown and perhaps also a chance to earn a dime, now that they couldn’t tour.
And while overwhelming majority of the collaborations never materialised into something more than streaming events and virtual playing of covers, those few that stuck it through resulted in something rather interesting. Just look at last year’s debut from MMXX, Sacred Cargo.
And while MMXX seems more like a project, DieHumane is more of a band. A band that consists of drummer Sal Abruscato (A Pale Horse Named Death, ex-Type O Negative, ex-Life of Agony), guitarist Rick Hunolt (ex-Exodus), bassist Joshua Vargas, keyboardist Greg Hilligie and singer Garret West.
But if don’t expect The Grotesque to be some mixture of above-mentioned bands, because DieHumane is an odd Frankenstein combining doom metal, blues, industrial, jazz and what not.
But make no mistake, there is much more to The Grotesque than just combining different genres – this is a beast of an album when it comes to its approach, scope and emotional weight.
There is such a dense atmosphere and depth to every characteristic of this album that it effortlessly sucks you in and subjugating all of your attention. It’s an intense ride, partly because of the diversity of the material, but mostly due to its almost devastating intensity. It’s uncomfortably elegant and gore at the same time and it’s all these things across all 17 tracks.
The musical diversity is grand, but at no time it comes across as one of those projects whose main purpose is to combine as much different for the sake of doing so.
On contrary, each of the very diverse elements work so well together, often at the same time, and feel rather as necessity, serving the greater whole. It’s basically what it took to channel all those emotions and the result is devastatingly beautiful in just about all its aspects. Heavy doom riffs, industrial electronics, bluesy guitars, gorgeous sampling and raw Southern American aesthetics are often exercised simultaneously. And while on the paper it might not make much sense on The Grotesque it works crushingly.
And then there are the vocals, courtesy of Garret West. How about this guy. He actually managed to deliver a performance to match everything we just discussed above. There is edge and passion to his vocal style and at the same time he seamlessly shifts from the softest of the harshest vocals and anything in-between. There is a hunger of young singers and an old-soul-quality to his vocals.
And if that wasn’t enough the band has created visual universe for the packaging and videos, which suits and supports the music. There is a modern American Gothic quality to it – elegant, yet disturbing.
There is no point in trying to point the highlights because each song stands tall on its own as well as a part of the collection. Startlingly the same goes to numerous intros and interludes, which are kept short and diverse adding to the atmosphere with their cinematic feel.
There is an uncanny sense for detail to every aspect of this album and there is a purpose to each of those details. Yet it’s the album as a whole and all those elements working together, that impresses the most. The combined overall impact is massive and already after the first spin you can feel its deep impact emotionally and physically.