Humanity’s Last Breath redefines heaviness.
Formed in Sweden in 2009, the band comprising Buster Odeholm (guitar/vocals, Vildhjarta), Filip Danielsson (vocals, In Reverence), Klas Blomgren (drums), Calle Thomer (guitare) and Tuomas Kurikka (guitar/vocals) unveil Ashen, their fourth album, on Unique Leader Records in 2023.
Blood Spill, the first track, wastes no time in plunging us back into dissonance and oppression before introducing its howls and crushing riffs. The effects add a dark edge to the already heavy basis, giving way to Linger and its more energetic but equally heavy approach of massive sounds. The ethereal leads struggle to contrast with the pure violence, which becomes increasingly suffocating before Lifeless, Deathless allows us a brief respite via its introduction, which is broken by jerky riffs and modern tonalities. Disturbing dissonance returns with Withering and its scathing harmonics, but the breathless basis also remains present, as do the howls which also welcome a few choirs in the background. The intensity doesn’t let up with Instill, which lets the angelic voice of Héli Andrea (ex-Mobius) appear before the surge, which blows everything in its path before granting us a brief moment of peace, then moving on to Labyrinthian and its ominous tones that perfectly complement the heaviness. A slightly more motivating riff is heard, then Catastrophize returns to pure oppression, but also to some much more energetic parts like the central moshpart. The apocalyptic final allows Death Spiral to place its most strident elements before the guitarists let loose to create a Dantesque sound. Shell follows with a similar pattern, skilfully coupling disturbing harmonics and irregular riffs, seamlessly followed by Passage, which redoubles its fury to deliver a hellish sound that even welcomes a brief moment of clean vocals. The band gives us a breather with Burden, an interlude keeping the heavy ambience, then Bearer, the final track, strikes back with all its strength, between thick rhythm, dark effects and transcendent harmonics.
The recipe of Humanity’s Last Breath remains unchanged on Ashen: coupling impressive riffs, massive screams and a permanently suffocating dark atmosphere. A successful gamble for the band.