In Human Form’s bizarre form of black metal, prog enthralls on weird opus ‘Opening of the Eye…’

So, I’m an idiot and broke one of my fingers. Don’t worry how. That story is way too stupid for a deadly serious site like the one operating here. Anyway, I am using this method called a “buddy splint,” which basically means I tape the bad finger to a good one and writhe in pain over how uncomfortable that is. It sucks out loud. Out fucking loud. Thus, distraction is key.

This was a good week to truly immerse myself in the hideous wonder that is “Opening of the Eye by the Death of I,” the latest long player from Massachusetts-based black metal manglers In Human Form. OK, you can’t really call them only black metal. That is there, but there’s also a ridiculous amount of mind-warping prog rock and even some weirdly jazzy sections that all blend into a strange concoction. Thematically, the record revolves around “a meditation on abysmal themes and mortality,” so says the words that accompany this record, basically indicating we’re taking a journey through life and death, light and darkness. The music itself is just ridiculous. In a great way. We have three short, interlude-style tracks built around three lengthy epics, and never does the band repeat itself. The folks making up the band for this record—Nicholas Clark (guitar, bass, alto sax, keys, backing vocals), Rich Dixon (drums, percussion, guitars), Patrick Dupras (vocals, lyrics)—take you on an immersive, twisting journey that will make you forget where you are. Pain? What pain? I’m too confused and enthralled.

“Le Délire des Négations” is a brief instrumental that kicks off the record, with drums tapping, weird sounds swarming, and everything bleeding into 14:09-long “All Is Occulted by Swathes of Ego” that starts with trudging power and proggy strangeness. Maniacal growls and bizarre screams twist and crush, as voices later call out over the chaos, with jazzy playing dashing colors. The track gets meaner and heads into space, with the track erupting, a dizzying pace landing, and plenty more shifts in ambiance before the song comes to a mud-caked finish. “Apollyon Synopsis” is the next shorter serving, as trippy guitars and a trembling tempo spin, with music trickling and bubbling, and cymbals crashing.

“Zenith Thesis, Abbadon Hypothesis” runs 15:55 and has an inventive start, pushing into prog fields again, as strange cries well up at the base. From there, the song just goes off, with a fluid, active pace achieved, a chilling dialog spreading, and keys spilling into the picture and bringing a freeze. The synth haze remains and only gets thicker, while guitars take off and create panic, a moody cloud set hangs overhead, and crazed vocals and an equally frenzied burst of playing bring the track to an end. “Ghosts Alike” has elegant guitars stretching their legs, taking on a jazzy, breezy feel before preparing for the 16:11-minute closer “Through an Obstructionist’s Eye” that immediately heads into the cosmos. Melodic guitars and glass-scraped vocals meet, while a slow-driving menace and a path built by inventive playing keep things interesting and ever-changing. Serenity settles in later, but not long afterward, soloing tears out of that, and we’re back at break-neck anxiety. The animalistic growls match the intensity of the music that seemingly is going for broke, while the emotions gush like a swollen river. The playing remains intense and menacing before things go psychedelic and trancey, as the song bleeds out into mystery.

“Opening of the Eye by the Death of I” definitely falls into that “not for everyone” category, and it may scare off more people than it pleases. But for those allured by In Human Form’s indescribable ways, you’ll find a 54-minute adventure that will keep you thinking, guessing, and wondering. It’s a great way to remove yourself from the present, take on ideas larger than you, and get away from any pain–physical or mental– you might be feeling, if only for a little while.

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