"Human" is the 4th full-length studio album by US, Florida based death metal act Death. The album was released through Roadracer/Roadrunner Records in October 1991. Despite the the fact that there are only about 1,5 year between the release of "Spiritual Healing (1990)" and "Human", quite a few things happened in that time. Most notably almost the entire lineup has been changed since the predecessor and only lead vocalist/guitarist Chuck Schuldiner remains. Guitarist James Murphy left after recording "Spiritual Healing (1990)" (to briefly join Obituary and later Cancer) and drummer Bill Andrews and bassist Terry Butler had a serious disagreement with Schuldiner, which meant that the European part of the tour supporting "Spiritual Healing (1990)" (where they supported Kreator), was completed without Schuldiner. After that tour Schuldiner took control of the Death name again and Bill Andrews and Terry Butler left to play with Massacre on the now legendary "From Beyond (1991)" album along side former Death guitarist Rick Rozz and vocalist Kam Lee (who had also played with Schuldiner in the past).
Schuldiner took the opportunity to hand pick exactly the musicians he thought could bring his music to the next level. His choices were bassist Steve DiGiorgio (active in Sadus at the time), drummer Sean Reifert, and guitarist Paul Masvidal. The latter two both from Cynic, who was an active demo band at this point and hadn´t yet released their groundbreaking debut full-length studio album "Focus (1993)".
The new blood in the lineup is heard right from the opening double pedal fade in of "Flattening of Emotions". While the "old" lineup certainly had it´s charm, the technical abilities of the new guys are through the roof. Reifert is nothing short of a brilliant drummer with a powerful technical drumming style. He plays fast, precise, and inventive for the time. His slight fusion influenced playing is adventurous, but not in a manner which takes power away from the music. Instead he understands exactly when to speed up, change rhythm patterns, or play more heavy, to ensure the greatest impact on the listener. Not enough praise can be given to him for his performance on "Human". DiGiorgio is quite an exceptional bassist too, and his fretless work is heard throughout the album. Masvidal compliments Schuldiner with his melodic and very well played guitar solos. Schuldiner himself is also at the top of his game on "Human" delivering fiercely aggressive growling vocals (fully intelligible), thought provoking lyrics, and his signature guitar leads.
All that wouldn´t have mattered much if the material wasn´t as well composed as it is here. The 8 tracks on the 34:01 minutes long album are all strong compositions, featuring memorable vocal/lyric/riff/rhythm hooks and while most tracks are relatively formulaic in structure, they are all distinct sounding and recognisable. The only track on "Human" which sets itself completely apart from the rest is the instrumental "Cosmic Sea", but it still works well in the overall flow of the album. "Human" is a very consistent album in terms of quality and style, and while I can´t help to mention "Flattening of Emotions" and "Lack of Comprehension" as some of the highlights (the band shot a promotional video for the latter), it´s not really fair to the rest of the material on the album, because all tracks are standout high quality material.
"Human" was recorded and mixed by Scott Burns at Morrisound Studios, Tampa, Florida and produced by Scott Burns and Chuck Schuldiner. They´ve managed to create a very powerful sounding album, which is both raw, brutal, detailed, and sophisticated. Almost the same words which can be used to describe the music, so the material and the sound production go perfectly hand and hand. So upon conclusion "Human" is an outstanding death metal release, which strikes the perfect balance between old school brutality and technical adventurous playing. Paired with songwriting which features a rare sense for memorable hooks, "Human" is a high quality release through and through. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.