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In the dead of 2019’s winter, the progressive black metal quintet, In Human Form, released their third album, aptly titled III. Published by I, Voidhanger Records, this latest effort marks their second return to the label after their 2017 opus, Opening of the Eye by the Death of the I. For both Connor and myself, this is our foray into the troupe’s work. Unfortunately, we cannot opine on how their sound has evolved from their second album to their third; however, based on the description tied to III, we can cobble together a vague semblance of their tonal mutation, but before delving into that, let’s piece together a loose chronology of their existence thus far.
Hailing from Lowell, Massachusetts, In Human Form was borne into existence sometime in 2006. Since then, they have unfurled three LPs, two EPs, as well as a couple of splits. For much of their tenure, the group consisted of three core members: Patrick Dupras on vocals, Rich Dixon on drums, and Nicholas Clark on a bevy of instruments including guitars, bass, alto saxophone, keys, and back-up vocals. This detail gets a bit murky as their debut LP, Earthen Urn, harbored an additional guitarist, but on their aforementioned second LP, Opening of the Eye, the outfit condensed back down to the primary triumvirate. Between its release and III, however, In Human Form’s ranks swelled to five, adding Shalhin Shah on bass and Dave Kaminsky on guitars, engineering, and mixing duties. And embedded within the album’s sonic tapestry are featured appearances from Evan Crandell on alto, tenor, and baritone sax, and Hannah Pitkin, who imbues the quintet’s progressive luster with angelic croons.
III is comprised of only three tracks, yet its bookend compositions are gargantuan in length, scope, and complexity. Glacial are their sheets of trem-picked riffs as clouds of frost billow from cleaving blastbeats. Ominous they ensnare us in a crystalline azure. Patrick’s vocals lacerate the titanic bergs, carving into them profane soliloquies for those who dare to schlepp across the frost-bitten expanse in an effort to make sense of their long-forgotten meaning. Though not all is dour. Between these monoliths of gnashing ferocity there radiates beams of sunlight that gild the white shelves in streams of gold. These moments take the form of saxophone flourishes and blissful gallivants through 70s-tinged progressive riffs. Often they pockmark the journey, typically peering between the shadows cast by the moving mountains. Though it’s within the album’s second track, “Weeping Stones”, where In Human Form completely shatter the impenetrable permafrost with soulful melodies that grieve in cathartic throes. There is much more I could say here about III, but I will turn your attention toward the exchange between Connor and myself as we had heaps to say about this record. Thank you so much for tuning in.
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You can acquire a digital copy of III via the I, Voidhanger Records Bandcamp page. Over at the label’s webstore, you can swipe a CD copy of the record for 12 Euros. Also, be sure to follow the quintet over on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the loop about live shows and new developments.
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