Human Concept is the debut album from French brutal death metal act Offending, and it bears all the marks of a typical brutal affair: rampant blast beats, double bass and dozens of riffs per song. Offending, however, seems intent on keeping things musical, rather than joining the beats-per-minute arms race. There is no denying that the band’s music is intense, at times harrowingly so, but it rarely dissolves into a grindcore blur. That is not to say that Human Concept is free of all the attendant problems that plague brutal death metal, such as awkward transitions, a lack of cohesion and a tendency toward quantity over quality, but Offending fares better than most.
While Human Concept features its share of sweeps, squeals, and various other noodlings, Offending does an exemplary job of giving each song a solid foundation of thick, meaty rhythms. Thus, Offending achieves its brutality through an organic heaviness that is driven by the guitars rather than a superficial sense of chaos derived from spastic, over-the-top drumming. The band brings this weight to bear most effectively on Human Concept’s centerpiece, the sprawling, seven-plus minute title track. “Human Concept” sees Offending reign in the speed considerably, allowing for the development of some sinister melodic themes and an atmosphere of sullen malevolence not unlike Immolation. The rest of the album’s tracks are more compact affairs, but Offending manages to pack something memorable in each, be it an off-kilter melody, a hard-hitting groove or a tasteful solo.
Human Concept is unlikely to appeal to those looking for the ultimate in brutality, but what Offending does offer is a tight, tense, heavy record packed with a myriad of ear-twisting, neck-snapping riffs. Brutal death metal is not usually my cup of tea, but Human Concept is something I will listen to again.