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(in)Human - 92%

sam1oq, August 12th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2009, Independent

It's always nice finding a great underground band. I don't remember how exactly I stumbled on this band, but it had a 95% review on so I got interested. The review didn't really go in depth on the music so I didn't really know what it would sound like except for that it'd supposedly be awesome. Not that I'm really good at describing what music sounds like since I lack proper language for it, but I'll do my best. But first some history on the band:

Cautiva is a one-man band. The dude behind it all is called José Travieso, a self-proclaimed "bedroom musician". He plays guitar and bass, did vocals, drum programming, records and produced the entire thing. His usual profession is as a teacher, but in his spare time he likes to make music. He did all sorts of music: avant-garde, minimalism, romanticism, jazz, thrash (as seen here) and now he's doing electronic stuff. I'm gonna write about his biography more here, but you can read all about it on his website:

Now for the music production, Human is very well produced for a "bedroom studio". Every instrument is crystal clear and tight. I think the balance between the instruments is (nearly) perfect. First of all the bass is LOUD, like really loud, but not in a bad way. It makes the rhythm section stand out actually as it gives the (already amazing) drumming more personality. The drums also sound great. I mostly like the sound of the cymbals and the ride. I guess some may find them too loud, but this entire record is loud. Lastly the guitars sound fine. I have zero guitar knowledge so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt. Maybe they're a bit low in the mix compared to the drum and bass, but it doesn't take away from the music in any way. The overall sound is loud and aggressive, which suits the music considering the nature of the genre.

I still haven't said anything about the actual music. In short: it's highly aggressive, unusual and fkn amazing. It's definitely not your standard thrash. There's way more focus on the rhythm section (drums and bass) than on the riffs than usual. That's not to say the riffs are bad by any means, they can be quite captivating at times even (War is a good example). But as far as I can hear, it's more standard thrash fare compared to the other instruments. The solos do a better job. They can be shreddy, but most of them are more melodic in nature.

The drumming (in combination with the bass) is what stands out though. It's aggressive, fast and varied. Where I often find myself feeling let down by the drums in thrash compared to the guitars, this is the opposite. You've got standard thrash beats, high speed double bass, insanely fast ride hits (1:33 in Swing of Love) and great use of crash cymbals. Every guitar fill is accented by crash hits or a little tom fill somehow. The dude did an amazing job programming the drums, that's for sure. The bass also does an incredible job. The playing is tight, but it doesn't only follow the drums. It has its own personality and often elevates the drums even further. It's definitely a stand-out performance when it comes to thrash. (Also I wanted to note how the intro to My Own Hell sounds almost exactly like Death's Spirit Crusher.)

Last thing I want to talk about are the vocals. They are weird, but good. It's this weird kind of shouting. I never really heard something like this before, but I don't listen much to thrash so it's probably not as unique as I think it is. You can hear in his accent that he's not a native speaker, he has that cool rolling "R" for example in the title track. I liked the vocals from the start, but I can imagine that some might think it's annoying and that it'll take a while to get used to.

Overall it's a great record and it's a shame José said that the door to Cautiva is now "90% closed" for him on his website. He released two EP's and a demo aside from Human on this project. Right now he's focused on making electronic music. I recommend Cautiva to all lovers of non-standard thrash and fellow drummers. Also a must-listen if you like audible bass in this kind of music. For fans of Coroner and Death.