When I first saw Human Beings' tour listed here on GigGuide.tw I was curious as to who they were. To my recollection they'd never played before, yet they'd apparently formed in 2010 and now here they were announcing their mini-album release tour. Okay. Digging a little further I find out the 4-piece contain members of Ashen and Until Seeing Whale's Eyes, two very good heavy bands. My interest was piqued.
So, without knowing any more than that I went to check out their show at Underworld (more on that later) and picked up their CD 'Animal'.
The CD comes in a simple black sleeve, with a large red 人 letterpressed on the front (if you own Until Seeing Whale's Eyes' CDEP you'll know the sort of thing I mean). That minimalist design continues with the CD case and enclosed black and white booklet, which has the lyrics in both Chinese and English (a nice touch). Now, how does it sound?
The album starts with the slow buildup of samples and looped guitar noise, a buildup in volume, pace, and above-all, anticipation, finally breaking at the 70 second mark into the dreamy guitars of The Island, The City, and We 島嶼城市 咱. It's a unique-sounding intro and one of many touches which give the CD polish and differentiates their sound from straight-up metal or hardcore and more in the realm of post-rock. The audio production is nice too, I mean really really nice! Slater Chiang (Rebel Sound Studio) has done a great job here and it's followed up with mastering from Alan Douches (West West Side Music) who has worked with an A-list of bands.
For a 6-track mini-album it clocks in at around 30 minutes. It doesn't seem that long and perhaps it's because each track contains many changes that the songs seem shorter. The opening track, like most songs on the CD are structured around extremes; contemplative passages with gentle guitars leading into all-out screaming and fast distorted guitars. The effect is emotional without being 'emo'. At times this reminds me Envy, but overall songs are more hardcore and probably share more in common with bands like Refused.
All tracks are sung or spoken in Taiwanese, which seems to me to be a growing trend among young bands here. While I can't understand a word, it's full of power and emotion. I actually like all songs, but if I had to pick a couple as favorites I'd go with Broken, Sad, Desperate 破悲絕 which is catchy from the very first note, and Fei Lei 匪類for its mix of classic hardcore and layered post-rock.
I have been playing this CD almost non-stop since I picked it up a week ago. It's not going to appeal to everyone, it's heavy and there's lots of screaming, but for me… it's blissfully great.
Okay, back to the show…
I arrived early to catch the first band, Draw My Last Breath, another band I knew nothing about. They played decent enough metalcore, but I felt my age (and my stomach churning) when they started doing those funny crabcore moves. Not a bad band, but their performance was a bit too choreographed for my liking.
Human Beings were up next! Underworld quickly filled up with excited patrons. There was definitely a buzz of excitement.. and then a buzz of guitars and samples (which I'd later find out to be the same opening intro as the CD). I was stuck at the back of the crowd and the only times I managed to get a glimpse of the band playing was when the moshpit collapsed or when the singer clambered his way on top of the crowd, hanging upside-down from the AC-unit where he'd belt out the songs. Fun times!
Make sure you catch them while they're still on tour.