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Nasum's rather abrupt shift into more musically palatable territory occurred at about the same time that Relapse became a really gay label, and it seems likely that these two things are related. That being said, 'Human 2.0', as bad as it should be for getting the ball rolling on a lot of modern grind stereotypes, is actually a very good album in its own right. It's something of a step down from the outright brutality of 'Inhale/Exhale', but the increased nuance and songwriting sensibility essentially makes up for the decrease in intensity. It's something of an interim album between their very melodic, somewhat rockish later works and the blistering grind of their first album, so it's probably their weakest all things considered, but it's still a cut above of nearly everything else in the same scene.
And yes, it is 'softer' than the first album, and later Nasum material is softer still. There seems to be a strange reactionary tendency in the metal scene to be resistant to admit that things have been toned down from album to album as far as intensity goes, at least when the newer album is liked. A lot of people would say that 'Human 2.0' isn't less brutal than 'Inhale/Exhale', but yes, it is, and no amount of sulking will make it any heavier. It's as though people think that admitting to liking an album less brutal than previous ones will somehow invalidate their metal credibility, or that brutality can be maintained even though the music has gotten a great deal more, well, musical (for want of a better term). Look, if you put the first two Nasum albums side by side, what's going to seem more intense: the excruciatingly minimal, straightforward, brackish grinding of the first, or the much cleaner, more melodic presentation of the second? It's no contest.
It's still excessively violent music, of course. Nasum's music on this album is still dominated by archtypical grind elements: blasting and occasionally punky drumwork, fast, buzzsaw guitar riffs occasionally slipping into a groove passage, and vocals that alternate between grunting low and throat-shredding scream/shout. As far as riffcraft and song structure goes, it's more technical and not as crusty as the band's first LP, and there's a great deal more intra-song variation than there ever was before. The riffs are substantially more melodic and memorable at times and the songs seem to carry more weight on their own as opposed to being single bullets in a volley of machinegun fire like the first record. A shift seems to occur about halfway through; after that invisible mark, the tracks are much more in the vein of 'Inhale/Exhale', and much of the most experimental work comes in the first half.
There are some rather questionable songwriting decisions from time to time; it seems that in the effort to expand their musical horizons, they got some unwanted flies in the honey. Occasionally the more melodic or grooving sections feel shoehorned in amidst the blast and grinding chaos. Perhaps the strangest and best example of this is the full-fledged alternative rock opening of 'Shadows', which sounds like it could be a Chevelle song if a blast beat didn't kick in soon after the initial confusion. As previously stated, this isn't quite as savage as the first release, and I think a great deal of this owes to the much cleaner and clearer production which has really wiped most of the grime off of Nasum's music; whether that's good or bad is really a tossup and depends on whether you like earlier or later Nasum more.
It's a good album; it's not the band's best, and it's confused in places, but overall the point gets across effectively enough to make it a worthwhile listen for modern grind fans. This will likely alienate fans of, say, old Napalm Death even more, so be warned that essentially all the punk has been stripped out of this release, leaving only the cold shell of modern grind in its place. Good if you like that sort of thing, but perhaps passable if you don't.
Grindcore is an odd genre, isn't it? I've never given the genre much of a chance before because of it's shortened songs. With Human 2.0 comes a vigorous journey of unparalleled aggression and hostility.
I've always felt that shortened songs would be incredibly hard to get into and difficult to establish a connection with but Nasum have breached the barriers a little. Although the song lengths are terribly short, it's not difficult to get to grips with the emotions behind them. Throughout the entire album the emotions and feelings that it's built upon seem similar. In-your-face aggression, undoubted power and energetic melodies are the backbone of Nasum. It's these very aspects that make Human 2.0 such a hit amongst fans and surprisingly easy to listen to. On a personal note, I do prefer my music to be of considerable length and as it's been touched upon already, Human 2.0 can be somewhat inaccessible to the listener due to the short songs. Just when you're beginning to come to terms with the fast and furious nature of Nasum, songs end abruptly. This may be somewhat problematic to listeners who aren't used to the ways of the grindcore genre. However, if you're in it for the pure unadulterated ferocity, you've come to the right place.
The heavily distorted guitars can sometimes become indecipherable amidst the sea of aggression and hatred that Nasum spit forth. The drums can often become lost behind the distortion of the guitars and thus can lack any real punch. The bass is evident, especially through good speakers. It's heavy, raw and uncompromising. As are the vocals. It's a mixed bag when it comes to the vocals. I suspect they would be quite hit-or-miss with the listener. They add power and give an impression of a certain determination behind the soundscapes, but such hateful screams can sometimes fail to take command of the situation when Nasum can seemingly lack purpose and destination. Some tracks seem merely like fillers for others which is quite disappointing. With it's moments of brilliance, comes it's moments of mediocrity dressed in distortion. From catchy melodic riffs to a random assortment of heavy passages. It's a hit-or-miss game, as aforementioned.
My biggest problem with this genre, and particularly this band is just that. It's far too mixed to make a general assessment and very hard to come to a conclusion. Highlights; Corrosion, The Black Swarm and Shadows. The bad thing about grindcore is that you have to listen to an album in it's entirety to get what a band is all about, so noting highlights can seem rather pointless.
In comes Nasum, ready for another shot at another great CD, to the follow up of their 38-tracked masterpiece "Inhale-Exhale". Over a 2 year period to make the actually album, the sound of Nasum took quite a large jump, or atleast in this album. The absolute raw and powerful sound will annihilate your speakers with such a beautiful, crisp, explosion like feeling of grindcore, you will not forget it. "Human 2.0" pushes Nasum to a much more brutal sound out of all of their major album releases (4 to be exact). None of the other albums can compare to this sound of such ignited carnage. If raw sounding grindcore is what pleases you, Nasum's "Human 2.0" is the one to latch onto.
Like drummer of Nasum, Anders Jakobson, stated on his website, this album was the last one he would sing on, since he didn't like the progress of his vocals. The way these absolutely lethal vocals are displayed, is by both co-oping their vocals to lower and higher switches, it's pure brilliance. Blending together growling, and screaming, is what grindcore deserves, and that's exactly what you get in this album. The lyrics, and overall names of the song titles were supposed to represent the whole "Y2K" nightmare, since it was changing to year 2000 during the making of this album (such as "Defragmentation"), but once again, most of the lyrics march side by side with the rest of the Nasum songs, political and in your face.
A lot of songs in "grindcore" can get repetitive and losing interest in them is a common thing, but with Nasum, there is a whole different factor. Each song is well composed by the band, and keeps the aggression that is produced by this album on fire with blistering riffs, and groovish drumming, until it literally burns to a crisp. Some epics on this 25-tracked destructive force of an album, that cannot be missed by any grindcore loving fiend, are, "Mass Hypnosis", "Shadows" (probably one of Nasum's most popular songs), "Corrosion", "Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow" (41 seconds of pure warfare, easily the best on this album), "The Black Swarm", "Sixteen", "Alarm", "We're Nothing But Pawns", and "Riot". An absolute classic album from the reigning champs of everything that is grindcore, you cannot miss "Human 2.0" for the life of you.
Being a casual half-fan of Nasum after hearing the group's swansong Shift front to back on numerous occasions, I was a little hesitant to try another helping, and honestly couldn't understand where the hype surrounding the group was sprouting from. Thankfully, my compulsive urges to throw away my quasi-hard earned money got the best of me, and I picked up Human 2.0 and Inhale/Exhale. Suddenly, their status became deserved in my eyes.
Nasum completely disposed of their former humanity seen in Inhale/Exhale and opt for a deceptively mechanized tear-you-a-six-foot-diameter-"new one" approach. Stylistically, Human 2.0 is a completely ridiculous, over the top assault on the senses, making up for the group's mediocre final helping by a mile plus. Musically, it's exactly what a grind aficionado would expect from such an accomplished band's opus - blasting and shredding, extremely solid, hate-filled Swedish grindcore, blending all their former influences into a unmistakeable wall of sound that's been carbon-copied dozens of times since.
The production is raw, but far from muddy, and the there's practically no breathing room between tracks, making the album even more intense. Of course, unlike it's predecessor, Nasum changes things up now and again with a more emotive, melody laced track to keep the listener's brain in solid form - the song Shadows (being one of my favorite songs of all time as well) illustrates this perfectly. Even more mind bending is the fact that these scarce little gems take absolutely no influence from their Gothenburg neighbors worshipping at the alter of aural cock floods... something for the elitist in all of us to revel in.
Most people probably won't warm up to this album too quickly, but it's worth getting used to.The swedes may fail in nearly every other branch of extreme metal, but this is the exception I've been pining for... well, not really. Grave ruled, bitches.
NASUM - Human 2.0 (Relapse Records~2000)
Here's my biggest problem with this newest offering by the heavy as hell Swedish grindsters: the songs are too damn short ! Just when I'm getting into a song it ends !! I'm not much on short songs at all so this is one mark against Human 2.0 for me. I had a chance to see this band live and was not impressed at all and so either they've changed with this new album or they just had a bad performance that night. Either way I'm quite pleased with what's been dished up and thrown in my face here. You've got heavy, and I do mean heavy, intense riffing that's kept in full control at all times with aggressive, angst ridden vocals and powerful drumming. They've got a great groove but again the shortness factor just seems to cut it off and ruin it. I'm hoping they can muster up enough strength to pound out a couple 4 minute or 5 minute songs in the future. Now that would be a neckbreaking, mindblowing trip into the brutal minds of NASUM. I suppose the fact that there are 25 tracks on this album should make up for the length of songs though. If you like Grindcore and have some CEPHALIC CARNAGE and DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN in your collection then it'd do you good to add this band into the bloodstream.