It says right up there by our logo: “Generally impressed with riffs.”
Thus, I am generally impressed with Shards Of Humanity.
So now you’re caught up.
Cold Logic builds upon Fractured’s fundamental foundation, with only a small amount of slight shifts. Most importantly, Cold Logic is still very much a thrashing death beast, and Shards Of Humanity’s impressive ability to craft killer technical riffs remains wholly intact, though overall Cold Logic feels less technical than Fractured Frequencies because it feels more organic, less clinical.
After the introductory instrumental shredfest of “Cosmic Shield,” “Martyr’s Gaze” shows the most immediate of Cold Logic’s changes: Todd Cochran’s vocals have shifted from a Chuck-ish snarl to a chesty, cavernous bellow, while the snarl does creeps in to augment affairs. It’s a welcome shift, as that earlier attack only furthered comparisons to that most hallowed of classic bands, and this newer approach allows for a greater range of screams and growls, even a manic cackle in the brilliantly titled “Bathing Raw In The Blood Of Pigs.” Still, for the most part, the vocals here are relegated to secondary status — Cold Logic sports two entirely instrumental tracks, and the likes of “I’ve Seen Death” keep vocal lines simple and straightforward, letting the guitars do most of the real talking.
One second notable shift from Fractured’s more pristine-sounding thrashing comes in the overall production. Here, Cochran’s newfound bellow is wrapped in a certain reverb, pushed a bit further back against the instruments, giving it a more distant feel that lends Cold Logic an overall darker and looser atmosphere without succumbing to the trend of the cavernous. Furthering that vibe, Ryan McAlister’s drums are given a similar treatment that leaves them sound more live, more organic, and yet one that manages not to detract from the intricacy of his patterns. Still shreddy, Cochran’s solos boil up from below like so much Azagthoth-ian lava, managing to be both bursts of red-hot noise and displays of twisted melody at once. Nothing here is muddy or roughshod, it’s merely that Cold Logic displays a certain airiness that allows it to feel looser even as it’s clearly the result of extremely tight performances. Should Shards’ chops be doubted in the slightest (and they should not be), before the album’s parting shot in “Mechanical Phosphene,” there’s even a jazzy breakdown in “Demonic Crystallized Intelligence” to further throw things back to the classic days of riffy thrashy tech-death like Atheist and Cynic.
All that said, all that about production and vocals and everything else, at the end of the day, Shards Of Humanity is still primarily defined by one factor, and that factor is: riffs. Razor-sharp riffs, bludgeoning riffs, intricate riffs, less-intricate riffs, thrash riffs, death riffs, riffs, riffs, riffs… And they’re goddamned glorious riffs.
Color me impressed.