October 3, 2008 | | 3.5

Don The Reader, Humanesque

I don’t know much about this South Bay area band, but what I do know is that they have the uncanny ability to hit you with five different riffs at the same time. That’s both a blessing and a curse for the five piece. At times the utter bombardment of sonic chaos are both welcoming and inventive. At others, the cacophony ends up taking on a repetitive nature as you’re left unsure if you’ve already heard a series of riffs previously on the album.

That point aside, Humanesque is a gem of an album. Taking on influences from Every Time I Die to Coalesce to The Dillinger Escape Plan, this debut effort is massive in terms of its scope and sound. Often teetering on the edge of a cavernous precipice Don The Reader real themselves back in with a belying structure that could turn on you like a rabid dog going for the jugular at any moment.

Humanesque starts out the album with distorted, churning guitar and steady rhythms for a solid one minute plus intro.

This next one erupts after the slow down from the opening track. Featuring tempo changes galore, “Malfunction” let’s loose with a series of volleys from the guitars and drums. This one is all over the place in terms of it’s pace and sonic delivery. There are a few slower moments that are reminiscent of Every Time I Die, but the band does well not to ape the aforementioned group. Layered vocals scream and shout over caustic guitars and pummeling blasts.

“Teethgrinder” transitions smoothly in from the end of “Malfunction” to a churning mass of guitars and chaotic rhythms that leap all over the place. This one at times definitely makes you grind your teeth as you brace for the barrage of sonic noise that stops and starts often, leaving you off balance and reeling.

The title track starts off with rapid fire drums and distorted guitars as the band builds momentum behind shouts and screams from vocalist Mike Roberts. “Humanesque” explodes with activity periodically as the band moves through churning rhythms and spastic blasts.

The group takes no time to continue the aural pummeling as they get right down to business with this next track. Pummeling drums mix with math fueled riffs to keep you on your toes during the song’s first three minutes. After that, there some some incredible drone and spacey moments that wrap themselves around the famous sound clip from Network‘s Howard Beal.

“Hotwar” immediately pick the pace back up with crushing riffs and a more guttural vocal delivery. This one has a more aggressive edge to it that’s a nice change from the previous tracks. I love the bass line that dominates around the :40 mark.

Pre-self Deficiency
These guys definitely paid attention in Calculus class. This one has more mathcore oriented shifts than you can throw a slide rule at. Tempo means nothing during this song. It’s like being in a blender full of ball bearings set to high speed. You’ll definitely feel a wiped out after “Pre-self Deficiency.”

“Reader” keeps the bludgeoning momentum moving along nicely with distorted riffs and churning rhythms. This track ends with massive, moshing riffs and crushing drum work — prepare to sprain your neck.

Designer Flesh
A funky rhythm with creative drum work and bass get this one moving along before being overwhelmed 20 seconds in with a din of distorted guitars and screams. There are a few moments of decent groove and sludgy tones on this one, but overall, it falls into the more spastic realm of the album.

Makeshift Splendor
Layered screams only add to the churning mass of noise that erupts from the speakers at the onset of “Makeshift Splendor.” Discordant guitars and pummeling rhythms bludgeon with the best of them as the group progresses through the first three minutes of this epic ten minute long song. After the initial beating Don The Reader shift into ambient, jazzy, spacey prog mode with creative drum work and distant guitars.

I Swallowed New Orleans
Beefy riffs and discordant hooks get going with the screamed vocals as this next one opens up. The drums are spastic, yet controlled enough to maintain a solid pace through the sonic convergence on top of them. More layered vocals add a nice touch and depth to the band’ sound.

The final track gets off to a killer start with a huge scream and crushing guitars. The band settles into their math based formula of spastic drums and discordant guitars as the vocals are shouted and screamed with a decent amount of fury. There are some brief moments of brevity as the band settles the pace a bit, but they are consumed once again with distorted guitars and pummeling rhythms.

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Favorite Tracks:
All of them

Additional Notes: