"Midheaven" seems like an album that was doomed from the start. First off the band were rocked by the departure of principal songwriter, guitarist/pianist A.J. Minette, during its infancy stages. Then, with two subsequent replacements (a guitarist and a pianist) brought onboard, the group still found themselves scrapping the initial sessions they tracked for it with producer Toby Wright (Slayer, Alice In Chains) - ultimately finishing it off with a different production team altogether.
With all this strife one would expect a train wreck to ensue. Oddly enough, this is not the case as this latest stab from The Human Abstract packs much the same punch their last effort, 2006's "Nocturne", did. Conceptual in nature, "Midheaven" sports an enigmatic sense of omnipresence where melodic narrative and seemingly detached vocal harmonies swoop in from out of nowhere like some higher power. While this may come off as emo-boy creepy at times, it does sound fresh when grafted onto the technique-obsessed progressive metalcore in place here.
The way the band ensure this freshness remains is by utilizing some mature pacing and tempo shifts that aren't as violently jarring as that of their peers in similar groups like Protest The Hero and modern day Avenged Sevenfold. However, while there is some stunning musical ability filtered through prog-heavy tendencies, there is also a surprisingly calm demeanor to it all.
Truly music like this could benefit from a few more explosive moments. Instead this dynamic lull can find the band a bit too relaxed and predictable. That's not to say there aren't some savage moments at play here, but they seem overshadowed and downplayed as a whole. Therein lies the problem. For a band as diverse and vibrant as The Human Abstract, their creative balance seems tipped more in favor of melody.
Fleeting glimpses of ingenuity such as the soulful croons on "Breathing Life Into Devices" or the distanced melodic swipes in "A Violent Strike" captivate. Yet there aren't equally surprising moments where a meaty bellow comes down and tears a track asunder. In turn, "Midheaven" can be a bit of a shaky listen where bold foundations don't always lead to a memorable spectacle.
(3.5 / 5)