Music Review: On Human Devolution

On Human Devolution, opens a new window by Deathcraeft
For this Halloween season, take a listen to Thrash-Death-Black Metal trio Deathcraeft’s debut album On Human Devolution. For the uninitiated, Trash is defined by fast, loud, harsh-sounding music that combines elements of punk and heavy metal. Black Metal deals with supernatural motifs, and Death Metal uses imagery that invokes dark themes including death, suffering and destruction. Meaning this is not a light listen in more ways than one. That said, On Human Devolution proves that Deathcraeft are masters of their craft.  It’s clear early on that the three members of Deathcraeft have mastered and could comfortably play any style or subgenre of Metal and their unique blend of genres make them stand out among other Metal acts.

On Human Devolution is a concept album based on the Cthulhu Mythos by H.P. Lovecraft, opens a new window, with a mix of socio-political themes. Deathcraeft hail from Greece, which has seen an unstable economy for over a decade and was front and center during the Syrian refugee crisis. The content is clear in the title of the album and highlights, as vocalist Nikonas Tsolakos stated in an exclusive interview on the website Metal Noise, "the self-destructing nature of humans."

The first song, “The Ritual,” opens with an eerie and sparse intro that is reminiscent of a train (or is it a ship? Maybe a helicopter?) moving away over a canvas of fog. Like a rollercoaster slowly taking the listener up the first ascent, “The Ritual” builds tension before crashing into a cacophony of gravelly screamed prayers to the octopus-like Elder God, Cthulu, to “RISE!” and fulfill the promises to release humans from their “empty lives and lies.”  It’s all downhill, in the best way possible, from here on out.

Standout track “Spreading Lies” begins with a paranoid orchestral that calls back to classic suspense films. If “Spreading Lies” is another rollercoaster, it is one that spirals in loops and kettles of chanting punctuated by thrash inspired blast beats from drummer Giannis Chiondidis. The song comes to an abrupt and jaw-dropping end that leaves listeners blinking in awe and asking, “Did that just happen?”

If some songs from On Human Devolution are roller coasters, “Survival” – with its literal invitation to oblivion (“Sleeping, stirring, dreaming for eternity”) and its contradictory start at breakneck speed then turn to a steady thrum – is the funhouse. Rather than stomach-churning momentum, “Survival” feels like a hypnotic fade out.

Throughout, On Human Devolution is a fast and wild ride. If you enjoy aggressive, intelligent and literary metal, look no further. Deathcraeft has delivered a holy tome for your listening pleasure. - Jami (Downtown)