HUMAN REMAINS  Using Sickness As A Hero  LP   (Relapse)   19.99

A groundbreaking release of esoteric and deliciously awkward extremity from the 90s,

Recent reissue of the absolutely vital EP and demo collection from Human Remains, a band revered not only for the weight of the talent involved, but also for generating some of the most berserk avant-deathgrind of the 1990s, their sound forshadowing a couple of nascent styles that would really kick into high gear years after this came out. Noone and nothing else sounded like these guys, especially when they originally emerged out of the New Jersey extreme music underground. I remember hearing this when the CD first came out back in '96, it blew the top of my skull off.

Crushingly confusional from the start, the original seven-song EP Sickness comes on like a cyclone of knives, exploding into barely controlled pandemonium as "Weeding Out The Thorns" starts the mayhem, sending you flying through a chaos of bizarre guitar harmonics and finger-tapped weirdness, putrid and shreiking vocals from wehat could easily be a terminal case of strep throat (Paul Miller's vocal performance here has garnered some comparisons to John Tardy from Obituary, which I can definitely here), gonzoid song structures and spasmodic riff shifts, crazed noise-rock grooves colliding with gibbering technical grindcore, the constantly shifting mass of drumming that Dave Witte unleashes in the mix serving to slice n' dice your fromtal lobe without mercy. This shit is just ridiculously heavy and convoluted, skull-wreckers "Waste Of Time", "Rote", "Swollen" all blasting into your life like some berserker mutli-headed monstrosity comprised of Obituary, Death, and Incantation-style death metal, Mr. Bungle's absurdist technicality, the jarring math-metal extremity of Dazzling Killmen, and the psychosis of early Today Is The Day, all mashed together into a hideous but perversely hook-filled soundwar. Brief snippets of sampled dialogue can be heard from 90's boundry pushers like Romper Stomper and Dead Alive, Wiite tosses out one percussive freakout grenade after another, guitarists Steve Procopio and Jim Baglino slash and shred their way through some of the most obtuse and angular riffage of the era alongside with counterpoint needling and call-and-responce fret-shred that verges on the kaleidoscopic...

The b-side is the Using Sickness As A Hero demos, and man, if these aren't almost more grueling than the album session, at least in a few cases. All five tracks would end up on the subsequent CDEP, but there's some noticeable differences with the structure, riffing, and attack on a couple of these tunes. There's a "wackier", almost Naked City-esque vibe with the guitarwork on the demo version of "Rote" that's interesting to hear, as well as what feels like a more chaotic and ultraviolent energy fueling the heavier sections.

With hindsight, you can easily herar how this EP would have a wide-ranging infl;uence on everyone who was exposed to it back in the mid-90s, as the complexity, intensity and weirdness foreshadows everything from Dillenger Escape Plan, Mastodon, a whole generation of post-y2k tech-death metallers, the whole "mathcore" thing that sprung up in the wake of this; most fascinating is the rumor that this influenced the diection that Luc Lemay would take Gorguts in with Obscura. Not sure how accurate that is, but the jagged and challenging heaviosity here is definitely a precursor to the discordant anxiety of Obscura and everything that that album touched.

With this now-cl;assic spazz-blast under their collective belts, the members of Human Remains would go on to continue boggling minds with some other groundbreaki8ng and/or infamously destructive bands like Discordance Axis, Gridlink, Burnt By The Sun,

Track Samples:
Sample : Weeding Out The Thorns
Sample : Rote
Sample : Human