Believer: Transhuman

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Believer: Transhuman
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Believer: Transhuman
Progressive Metal, Thrash Metal
Metal Blade Records
April 12th, 2011
Release length: 53:59
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Believer certainly is not a new band, but it’s definitely a group that many have not had the chance to experience yet. The group formed in 1986, and fail from Colebrook, Pennsylvania. The band has issued five full-length releases over the years, having a large gap between their 1993 release Dimensions, and their 2009 release Gabriel, breaking that silence only with a live CD entitled The Chosen Live. Given the large gap, it’s pretty obvious why the group isn’t as large as they could be. Tack on the group’s lyrical content of a Christian themes and Gabriel being poorly received, it comes to wonder if the band has what it takes at this point to really step out into the spotlight with Transhuman, the band’s fifth full-length release.

Transhuman finds the band really pushing forward with a more Progressive Metal foundation coupled with Thrash, but obviously the first part becomes more prodoment as you listen to it. The album grips the listener with a more Thrash-oriented “Lie Awake”, but the song does show shades of earlier Hard Rock influences as well with the band’s performance, and really grips the listener with how catchy the track is, as well as how energetic the vocals are, being performed in a Thrash vein similar to that of Death Angel, a rhaspier approach that feels more like it’s being shouted, but often harmonized with the music. Other times, like with “Lie Awake”, you get an Overkill vibe to them, where the vocals don’t push a screaming sense, but take on more of a rhaspy approach traditional moreso to Crossover Punk. But, this is one of the very few songs that come out simply as catchy, fun, and energetic, as the tone of the album quickly shifts to a far more atmospheric Progressive setting.

While the energy is clearly there, there comes tracks where the band really pushes atmosphere to the forefront of their material, and it’s not bad at all, just takes a bit to get adjusted to due to the sudden shift in styles. “Multiverse” is one of the more impressive of the atmospheric tracks, though not quite as “epic” sounding as others can on here. This track, however, does feature some strong Progressive Rock guitar bridges coupled with heavy Progressive Metal guitars through the rest of the song, and an oddly placed breakdown occuring shortly after the halfway point. There is vocal distortion happening through the song to enhance the atmospheric effect of the recording, and the vocals aren’t quite screamed, often being more clean singing or even spoken word that is digitally altered. In fact, after “Lie Awake”, the album seems to take a strictly Progressive Metal route, quickly build up with it and at times leaving the Thrash influence behind. “Transfection” shows some slightly Thrash-driven chords during some bridges, but it’s pretty clear that the music is leaving it behind thanks to the atmospheric music, as well as softer, more emotional vocal performance.

While still retaining a Progressive Metal vibe to the album, there are times where the listener would swear Transhuman is more a mixture of lighter Fear Factory and some of today’s Alternative Rock styles with a Progressive touch. “Multiverse” brings that vibe in with a rich atmosphere that feels largely Industrial-influenced in it’s Progressive atmospheres and the digital effects utilized. “Transfection” also feels this way just from the general vibe of the song feel like it’s only missing some Industrial or digital elements similar to that of “Multiverse” to just make it a pure Industrial Metal track in the first place. And then there’s “Currents” which is a heavily Industrial sounding instrumental track that uses more electronic-made sounds then from the band themselves. But, this isn’t saying these songs are horrible. In fact, many of these tracks are actually fantastic.

For an instrumental, “Currents” is decent, but it’s many of those Industrial-bordering Progressive Metal tracks really show a killer new direction for the band. The problem is that some of these just start to sound sound a little familiar as the album goes on, finding many of the tracks taking on a slower performance with similar vocal styles according to the speed, and not necessarily according to the atmosphere. Traves of acts like Sybreed can even be heard in some of the songs, sans the gutteral vocals of course, and this becomes the case with “Traveler”. But in the end, it and the many other songs that came before it stand out well on thsi release due to such a rich atmosphere that doesn’t really push the album over the top, and the rather suiting lyrical matter that feels more gitting to a science-fiction themed album, which essentially is the main vibe of this recording outside the overly epic “G.U.T.” which just feels more like it was airmed toward being a track of worship then a track of Progressive technological progression, but even that sounds phenomenal, though, again, a bit of a punch to the gut (pun not intended) considering how quickly the band leaps from a Progressive tinged Thrash and Rock sound to that sort of atmospherically rich composition.

There’s really nothing all that wrong with the recording. The quality of Transhuman is pretty clear, but still brings in some heavy music that holds a strong bite to it. The only complaint is that the vocals don’t seem to offer much of a variation. Sure, there are times where they are hamonized through screaming, and then clean singing, but that’s about it. The clean singing has some range, but the screaming doesn’t, so on those more energetic tracks, the vocals seem to become more monotone. This is something that can be instantly picked up on with “Lie Awake” and “G.U.T.”, so after a while they tend to not really lend much through the recording. Of course, when coupled with clean singing, there seems to be more range to them, such as the closing track “Mindsteps”, but that doesn’t necessarily sound the same as the shouting, just more of a flare put on the clean vocals to make them more powerful and dynamic then anything. Overall, a little more dexterity to the screams would have definitely made the full fifty plus minutes of this album a lot stronger then what they already are.

In the end, Transhuman shows some shades of the band’s earlier Thrash roots, but the album is quite a departure from previous efforts of the group. Believer incorporates a strong Progressive sound with a rich atmosphere, and it simply sounds great, though not the most unique. Each song on here has a good amount of energy behind it, and sometimes a good amount of emotion. Despite your religious views, Believer puts their best foot forward with Transhuman, and it shows a good progression for the band as well, making up for lost with an album that feels rather large at times, and fifty plus minutes of solid Metal.

01. Lie Awake – 5:03
02. G.U.T. – 3:39
03. Multiverse – 4:44
04. End of Infinity – 4:12
05. Transfection – 3:55
06. Clean Room – 4:50
07. Currents – 2:50
08. Traveler – 4:23
09. Ego Machine – 4:29
10. Being No One – 4:47
11. Entanglement – 4:15
12. Mindsteps – 6:52
Overall Score: 9/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.