After reading a message from a disgruntled fan who thought Life… The Best Game in Town was too accessible, Harvey Milk wanted to reassert themselves as one of the most difficult bands in sludge metal. As the lore goes, Creston Spiers was so incensed (or inspired) by the comment that he didn’t even wait to get home to write the album, but transcribed the entire thing on manuscript paper in the van while the band was still on tour. The result of that effort, A Small Turn of Human Kindness, finds the band returning to the top of their game with an album that is as heartbreaking as it is crushing. Though it’s broken up into six tracks, the album plays out like an epic doom opera, tied together by a gut-wrenching narrative thread. Where Harvey Milk really succeeds is in the highs and lows, pulling the listener down into a pit of despair one moment and letting them drift in a melancholy haze the next, making the passages that are merely sad and not out-and-out devastating seem uplifting by comparison. The whole things comes to a head on the album closer, “I Did Not Call Out.” The song pulls of an incredible juxtaposition, creating a point where the album is lyrically at its bleakest while the music is at its most triumphant, pulling the listener in two directions, all compounded by the incredible momentum built up by the songs that preceded it. For anyone who felt that Life… was too entry level for their tastes, A Small Turn of Human Kindness will be the challenging, and ultimately rewarding, response they were looking for.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney