While Finland is mostly known for its variety of melodic death metal acts, new winds are on the horizon. An example of that is progressive metal act HUMAVOID from Espoo, who blend a fascinating array of sounds into their music: from technical guitar riffs reminiscent of MESHUGGAH to jazzy intermezzos, nothing is off-limits in their upcoming album, “Lidless,” released on 21 August 2020 through Noble Demon.
While many albums warm us up with an atmospheric intro that builds up tension, HUMAVOID does the complete opposite by starting off with their shockingly complex music in “Fortune for Demise.” Instantly, a nexus of intricate time signatures, technical guitar riffs, and growls are thrown around in a chaotic cacophony that at the same time is extremely calculated and organized. The delicate articulate sections fuse together as they smoothly transition into one another.
HUMAVOID continues with title track, “Lidless,” which was previously released as a single. The song starts off with an incredible groove reminiscent of early MESHUGGAH, manifesting in many forms throughout the song, sometimes fueled by the guitars, sometimes by Suvimarja Halmetoja‘s keytar, but altogether is a constant throughout the song. It’s no surprise that this track carries the title of the album since it’s probably the song that represents the identity of the four-piece in the best way possible.
Starting off with heavy riffs and a haunting piano melody, “Aluminum Rain” treads into groovy, reggae-like waters with incredible verses and launches itself forward with djent-infused riffs in the pre-chorus. While singer Suvimarja Halmetoja started with aggressive clean vocals, in the chorus she growls with an impressive amount of precision, the vocals combining with guitarist Niko Kalliojärvi‘s growls. Mid-way through, the song becomes more and more intriguing as progressive metal sections are mixed with sweeping keytar melodies, reminiscent of progressive rock act HAKEN. Additionally, a jazz piano solo is implemented by featured guest Iiro Rantala, lifting the song up to its maximum potential. The instrumental part of the song is impressive, showing the well-crafted layers of HUMAVOID‘s music. Including technical guitar riffs, extremely groovy bass lines, and incredible drumming, the song also does not lack in sweeping keyboard melodies and excellent vocal performances.
“Inside 1” is a hauntingly beautiful piano intermezzo that builds up a perfect soundscape to immerse yourself into the next track, “Matter.” The song has a bigger focus on piano melodies, underlining the diversity of this album once again. In comparison to its predecessors, the song has a bit more of a melodic approach, which is a nice break in the overall flow of the album. Another highlight of the song is the excelling work of drummer Heikki Malmberg, specialized in polyrhythms – I was taken a bit by surprise by the drum solo in “Matter,” but it showcases his diversity as a drummer and makes you understand why people sometimes call drummers the backbone of the band. The melodicity continues in “What You Hide,” as singer Suvimarja Halmetoja reveals her diversity as a singer by providing neat clean vocals and aggressive growls with ease. The eerie atmosphere of the track is underlined with fusion piano melodies and eventually bleeds into “Inside 2,” which again builds a hauntingly beautiful soundscape with piano melodies.
After the break, “The Breathing Method” picks up the fast, aggressive pace from in the beginning and proves to be one of the heaviest songs on the album. This piece combines elements of progressive metal with jazz and groove metal. Sweeping keytar melodies blend in with the aggressiveness of the track as well as with the atmosphere. Midway through, a jazzy section surprises the listener, again showcasing that HUMAVOID have plenty to show off.
Closing duo “Undercurrent” and “Drywall Cracks” share the common denominator of being the longest tracks on the album, both clocking in at exactly 7 minutes and 2 seconds. Other than their length, the tracks have fairly little in common. “Undercurrent” feels like a little bit of a breather in between the tracks, as it’s focused a lot more on groove. The dual growling force that is Niko Kalliojärvi and Suvimarja Halmetoja is showing off its best side in the track. “Drywall Cracks,” however, starts off with an intricate atmosphere built by keytar and fast polyrhythmic drumming. After almost one minute, the song switches gear, first with aggressive chugging guitar riffs and then with a progressive metal extravaganza. The 7-minute track shows you all the best sides of HUMAVOID one last time, with twists and turns and hooks, before it halts with a beautiful piano melody and eventually dies out.
Admittedly, this album is not for everyone. Even though it is very well-executed and, in my opinion, a very strong prog effort, HUMAVOID‘s music is certainly not accessible and requires some time to get into. However, those who love complicated music, progressive metal, djent, and a more avant-garde sound will surely enjoy HUMAVOID‘s promising album, “Lidless.” Personally, I couldn’t be happier with an addition like this to the progressive metal scene in Finland, since what HUMAVOID do is fairly unique around here. “Lidless” is an album that requires out-of-the-box thinking, which is also what the four-piece did while composing these tracks and therefore offers an immersive experience in different soundscapes varying from art jazz to technical death metal. Topped off with extremely well-executed production, this album is one to look out for. Progheads, beware! Another whirlwind of intricate music is heading your way and will certainly blow your mind.
- Fortune for Demise
- Aluminum Rain
- Inside 1
- What You Hide
- Inside 2
- The Breathing Method
- Drywall Cracks
Suvimarja Halmetoja – vocals & keys
Niko Kalliojärvi – guitar & vocals
Mikki Rousi – bass
Heikki Malmberg – drums
Noble Demon Records