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Death: Human

“Your package came for you today.”

“Oh it did? Great!”

“Now what did you order?”

A smile came across my face as I tore into the package I anxiously had awaited to get my hands on for quite some time, “The three disc reissue of the album Human by Death.”

“I don’t know how you can listen to that stuff. And three discs? What’s so special about an album that they need to make it three discs?”

“This is perhaps Death’s finest work. Out of all the albums, lyrically it feels more like a personal journey then anything else. You feel close to what the one member [Chuck Schuldiner] is writing about in here.”

And with that question and very brief explanation, a thought occured to me. What is it about Human that makes this album seem so human? As I get in the car, I sit there staring at my latest addition, finally tearing into the package after a good three minutes of just taking the artwork in and reading the expanded track list. Immediately I throw in disc one, and make my purposely delayed trip back to the office a.k.a. my apartment. It was like hearing the album in a whole new light. This edition of Human just came across clearer, crisper, louder, heavier

In no time flat I’m headbanging along to “Flattening of Emotion” and my personal favorite, “Suicide Machine.” The newly remixed versions of these songs, and the remastering done are simply fantastic that it nearly brings a tear to my eye to hear what is easily Death‘s finest work to ever be pressed. It honestly felt as if I was hearing this album for the first time, and the experience was good. Truth be told I had this CD in the review que for quite some time, as well as the reissue of The Sound of Perseverence, but to me, Death is a band you simply cannot experience, or re-experience digitally through MP3s. You need the physical version. The editions I received were also just the two disc reissues, but to someone who has been a fan for ages, holding such a group in the highest respects, it’s either the best edition or nothing. And my decision to hold off, not even throwing one random song of the album on an MP3 player, had payed off, and this edition became well worth the wait and money.

Human was always more of a personal album to me. While it was not one of the albums I immediately had picked up while in the process of adding Death‘s discography to my collection, which to this date is one disc short of completion sadly, and will be held off even more now thanks to these reissues Relapse has been sending our way and the upcoming Individual Thought Patterns set due out later this year, it has quickly become one of the most important albums to enter into my collection. The first time I sat down with this release, openning up the lyrical booklet and following along with Chuck as he performed lyrics clearly reflecting himself and coming from the heart, coming to a small understanding of what he was trying to accomplish with the album, and further watch him evolve it on the following releases…it was like being welcomed into the mind of brilliant man, as if living a musical rendition of the film Being John Malkovich or something along those terms.

This was one of the few genuinely intimiate albums I had come across. Yes, many bands will write what’s on their minds and in their hearts, but it’s rare that you sit back and get this interpretation of a person through a musical outlet such as this. Human, for that fact, felt more human then an actual album. The music spoke volumes of ideas and self expression that many people today try to accomplish and horribly fail. The raw music that was performed combined with sharp lyrical work that often made you think while having a point to it that wasn’t about a deep seeded urge to murder in ten to twelve different variations spoke volumes to both the variety of this album, but even the intellectual level of this release. In my time so far, there are few people I have come across, directly or indirectly, that I can say are genuine geniuses in their field, and sadly I can only bestow that honor upon two. The work of Devin Townsend is often quite mind blowing and at times intimiate while being absolutely insane or down to earth, much of his material coming off as if to reflect himself at that exact moment of composition. And then you have Chuck Schuldiner, taking a look at himself, and then using what he saw to paint a vivid picture through the music and lyrics to say what he wanted, and do it in a manner that essentially becomes an offering of a part of himself, so you can better understand where he is coming from and understand that this is more then just another Death Metal album.

And while this album was fantastic from the start, genuinely awe inspiring from a personal level when you look deep into the music and are overcome with the more intimate material that comes at you with such commanding authority, the recent reissue of this really just enhances the experience. While you may not have known the members of Death in real life, or even had the chance to watch this group build the material for Human, these reissues, especially the three disc version, basically set up the release as if you are there watching the band evolve. Well, with the track listing, it becomes more like the band is devolving. Disc one is the album obviously, newly remixed and remastered, while disc two starts a counter clockwise chronological order, giving you the original instrumental tracks and demo recordings to the album, and finally the third disc gives you two band rehearsals and basic drum and bass tracks, taking you back to the very roots of the album’s composition.

To anyone who claims to be a fan of Human, the three disc reissue is basically essential. You can either go from the final product to the earliest stages, or edit the track order and go from the very start of the album’s creation up to the final product, basically hearing the album evolve and take shape throughout the years. What once was already an intimiate inner portrayal and self-expression becomes far more then that, and you basically become the fly on the wall of the practice spaces and studios, hearing the evolution of the album, and getting a strong understanding and connection to such a fantastic release. You basically watch the album grow up. You experience how such a strong album pretty much becomes human, from the infant stages of “Suicide Machine” to the various performances of “See Through Dreams,” and much more.

It’s genuinely hard to sit here listening to these tracks as I write this article, gong back in time gradually with each track and disc that goes into the player, to picture anyone who wouldn’t like this album and considers him or herself a fan of Metal. It’s obvious that Chuck and the various members of Death, as well as Control Denied, clearly had a lot more recorded then what we heard, it’s just fantastic that we, as fans, finally get the chance to hear it all, as well as to sit down and not only experience such a classic once again through a new perspective, but also get to hear it’s evolution, which is something I don’t think I’ve ever come across before, at least in such detail as this edition of the album.

With this edition in my collection, I honestly feel closer to Chuck and those members of Death then I do right now. That understanding I had for such a great album has definitely grown stronger, and it honestly does come through clearly that the material had gone through a lot of changes, but even the differing versions on this album throughout the months of it’s creation are solid and enjoyable, having not yet found on single track I truly didn’t have interest in. This is the type of album that does deserve to be reissued, as well as should have this kind of treatment to keep it alive.

And really, that’s what makes Human so human. The fact that anyone, from a whole group of fanatics, to one single solitary fan, can feel so close and strongly towards someone’s expression and understanding of the world through his eyes and mind, and the music that such visions lead to, or any sort of artistic expression for that matter and not just a musical one, is what makes something that isn’t real more human then many of the members of the human race we’ll meet, or already have met. Human proves that an outward expression can pull those who want to hear it together, essentially uniting them in a way nothing else can. It’s the devotion to it, the passion, the care, the understanding, the learning, everything and anything you can take from such a strong work that carves someone and their ideas or personality for the better is what truly takes something that simply isn’t real and transforms it. With so many people who connect to this album, and how many random conversations you can start by simply dropping the name of this album, discussing how it’s impacted a person’s life or how much they love it and what the lyrics mean to he or she, makes it real.

It all makes it…human…