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Embrace Of Disharmony - Humananke (2014) - Review

Band: Embrace Of Disharmony
Album title: Humananke
Release date: 19 May 2014
Label: My Kingdom Music

01. Shards Of Apocalypse
02. Ab Nihilo
03. The Etnernal Champion
04. Identity
05. The Edge Of Nowhere
06. Dirge On A Soul Staring At The Stars
07. By The Hands Of The Moirai
08. Void
09. A Descent Into The Maelström

Italian quartet emerging from Rome, the uber romanticized city, was formed back in 2006 and after self-releasing a demo Embrace Of Disharmony in 2007 and EP Whispers From The Edge Of Nowhere in 2010, their full length debut Humananke finally saw the light of a day. Full of featuring artists, such as Mike Lepond from Symphony X, Rafael Bittencourt from Angra, Kobi Farhi from Orphaned Land, Gabrielle Caselli from Eldritch and mastered by Mika Jussila, know best for his works with Nightwish and Stratovarious, you can get the idea of what kind of music is ahead of you. And also that this band gave everything they've got and poured it into a concept album, which revolves around a mythological creature Ananke, who was the personification of destiny, fate and necessity in Greek mythology. Labeling themselves as progressive avantgarde metal, you can imagine I was into the whole album more for the avantgarde part than progressive, but sadly, not much of the promised avantgarde was waiting for me.

Humananke is very rich in sound, incredibly dense; combining stripped-off technical progressive metal elements, with a splitter of a bit more extreme samples and orchestral features, adding the well know recipe of mixing clean male vocals with gentle female vocals and  creating a contrast with adding harsh vocals. Naturally, my first though went straight to After Forever, who were in the years of their existence in the prime of symphonic progressive metal scene, due to their rich flavoured music and amazing vocals by Floor Jansen, who was able to carry out the atmosphere of each and every song by herself.  Indeed, music as massive as this needs good, strong, expressive vocals to deliver at their best and seal the deal, but I just didn't feel that with Humananke. Both female and male clean vocals are to watered down to follow the adrenaline-charge bomb of tunes and really add no special value to the ambiance of the album.

The opening track, lasting more than 10 minutes in length, "Shards Of Apocalypse" welcomes us with a tremendously enjoyable intro, creating a very theatrical and almost gothic-like atmosphere, elegantly trespassing into a harsher tune. But when the typically progressive metal keyboards kicked in, it all fell apart. I even sensed a bit of Fleshgod Apocalypse in there, but it wasn't enough to get the bad taste out of my mouth.  A few bright, highly atmospheric moments weren't enough to keep me entertained. Second track "Ab Nihilo" in mere 2 minutes of length is just there to show some guitar skills and sounds more like a proper intro track. And if you put the insane guitar skills aside, the background melody alongside the emotional piano tune really does make an incredible track, that could have been a truly majestic, darkened spectacle. The following 7 tracks all follow the same pattern as the opening song and there are no surprises here. The very beginning of "The Edge Of Nowhere" again reminded me heavily of After Forever, more specifically "Follow In The Cry" from their 2000 debut Prison Of Desire. But so it happened one more time – the cheesy keyboards and the not so strong vocals prevented the song from being truly majestic. Intros seems to be a specialty for Embrace Of Disharmony, as again on "Dirge On A Soul Staring At The Stars" they created a ghastly, hauntingly dramatic atmosphere and included choirs in the song (think Therion here), making this song probably the only one on album that has a bit of that avantgarde touch they were promising and thus a highlight of the album; a song that gets a perfect score.

I expect from musical epopees to keep my mind and ears busy and focused throughout every second; throughout every single tune, every singe tempo change, every single note and every single glimpse of created atmosphere. But instead of that, the songs are just tiresome and the dynamics is really awkward. It's a sound collage, with no storyline to follow. Not to give you too much bickering though, I'm sure Embrace Of Disharmony will build a solid fan base among fans of symphonic progressive metal or those who like their prog with a heavier tune and some experimentation. Maybe some Therion fans will join in as well. All in all, Embrace Of Disharmony have proved they are very capable, talented and skilled musicians; skilled in their instruments as well as composing and I'm sure Humananke is just what they wished to be. Those of you who seek technicality and enjoy various approaches to be thrown together, will find this album for liking. But those of you, who are more into the whole avantgarde, atmospheric and thought-consuming part, can easily skip it.

Review written by: Ines
Rating: 5/10