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Countless progressive extreme metal bands have sprouted out over the years, with personalities like Ihsahn releasing excellent records after the demise of Emperor, fusing elements from various musical genres into one unique genre that defies classification. Sweden has also seen their fair share of such "progressive extreme metal" bands, such as Opeth. Unfortunately, while Opeth has ditched the extreme metal side of their music, excellent bands such as Waning have gone under the radar, and this year sees the band coming back strongly with their sophomore full length album, The Human Condition.
Waning's music right from the beginning is a rather emotional journey, with the bleak and desolate riffs that are unleashed by guitarists Andreas and Anders, topped by the desperate pleas of vocalist Robert, his growls drenched with desperation. The music on The Human Condition is fundamentally black metal, though there is a somewhat depressive touch to the music, at times reminding listeners of such bands as Pestilential Shadows and their latest work, especially in the riff and vocals work on the album. The focus and sense of melody by the band is easily displayed through songs like To the Smouldering Next, with the almost melodic death metal sounding riffs that are present on the track. The progressive side of the band can also be heard on longer tracks like Continuum, which displays the band's songwriting prowess, transiting between different styles with ease.
There is nothing particularly technical on The Human Condition, as the main focus here is on the emotions that the band is able to evoke through the melodies in the music. The lead guitar portions on the music often serve to help to enhance the atmosphere rather than for the guitarists to show off their technical chops, and Christoffer's drumming throughout the album is rather simple and consistent, though he tries to include some moments of intensity at times as well, such as on more aggressive tracks like End Assembly, adding some spice to the listening experience. Furthermore, the band expresses the emotions well with the usage of clean passages throughout the album that at times add a tinge of sadness and melancholy to the music. The guitar tone on the album also have a somewhat spacey effect, providing the music with a nice atmosphere, with the trem-picked riffs that are often utilised by the axe-wielding duo, and title/instrumental track The Human Condition perhaps best displays the intentions of the band.
The production quality of The Human Condition is also clean and polished, allowing each of the instruments to shine. And this is especially suitable for the style of music that Waning plays, with the constant transition between clean and more aggressive sections, and the polished production is most evident on the clean guitars that often make their presence heard throughout the album.
The Human Condition is an excellent album that brings in some fresh air to the saturated genre. The emotional touch that the band has included on the album has also made it extremely enjoyable, setting Waning apart from their numerous Swedish black metal counterparts.