Band: Humanotone | Album: A Flourishing Fall in a Grain of Sand | Genre: Progressive metal, Heavy psych, Stoner metal | Year: 2022
From: Coquimbo, Chile | Label: Independent
For fans of: Elder, Howling Giant, Avandra
Searching “progressive rock” or “progressive metal” on Bandcamp (my primary means of finding new music) will yield an abundance of stoner acts labeling themselves as prog. Most are nothing special. Songs running 19 minutes does not a prog record make. To be sure, though, there are examples of bands that take the stylistic trappings of stoner rock and successfully meld it with the technical skill and structural ambition of progressive rock. Elder is probably the best-known example, but I’ve covered others, such as Howling Giant and Little Jimi.
Humanotone, a project based out of Chile devised by sole member Jorge Cist, is another strong example of a stoner metal-based act that makes complex, intelligent music. Compared to their rough-around-the-edges 2017 debut, A Flourishing Fall in a Grain of Sand is much more refined. The songs are put together well, and the individual elements of these long compositions flow together smoothly.
The album opens on “Light Antilogies” with big, impactful guitars and the occasional stab of organ. Elements of post-metal are noticeable in some of the spacier guitar elements, and the choice in keyboard tones for backing the solos is smart. The vocals are a bit muddled into the mix, which I’m not wild about. This seems to be a common stylistic choice among stoner-prog acts, though.
Following is “Ephemeral”. The opening of this is similar to the previous song, but the relative gentleness of the vocals reminds me a lot of Avandra. There are some cool, complex riffs as the song chugs along, and I will reiterate that I am a fan of the keyboard choices. Around the midpoint of this 11-minute song, it does begin to sag under its own length, but there’s a lovely synth solo in the second half which helps pick things up. This is a good song overall, but it does feel longer than it needs to be.
“A Flourishing Fall” has a much gentler introduction than the two preceding cuts. Watery clean guitar and a languid lead lend a Floydian character to this passage. This calm is much appreciated after the preceding 20 minutes of blaring riffs. There’s a good build-up in this song, and it eventually launches back into metal around the five-minute mark. The contrast between aggression and calm is played well here.
Clean guitars again take the lead on the next song, “Scrolls for the Blind”. This has a more haunting character than the previous song, with the bass having a hint of growl to it that adds a subtly sinister element. When the big, distorted guitars come in, it’s reminiscent of certain grunge acts, like Soundgarden. The extended instrumental section in the middle of this song has some great ideas and fun riffs, but it ultimately ends up running a little too long.
“Beyond the Machine” is the shortest song here by a wide margin, running less than half the time of the second-shortest. It’s got a strong, sludgy main riff, and the low-mixed vocals work quite well here.
A Flourishing Fall ends on its longest and strongest song, “Even Though”. The opening passage features just guitar and vocals for its first minute-and-a-half, and even with the introduction of drums, this maintains a relaxed atmosphere. The shift to a more propulsive section is natural, and the riffs on this song are some of the most distinctive on the album. There are even a few brief flashes of death metal in the guitarwork. This song most firmly breaks free of stoner metal archetypes, opting for impactful moments and limiting atmospherics to the keyboards.
Humanotone’s second album is a strong example of stoner-prog firmly in the vein of recent Elder. Passages on the album occasionally run for too long, and this release would have benefited from some tightening-up and trimming. Despite that, the playing is strong, the vocals work well in this style, and the compositions show a lot of creativity.