Wolf Eyes

Human Animal

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Human Animal, Wolf Eyes' first album with Hair Police's Mike Connelly (who replaced Aaron Dilloway as a touring member of the band), polarizes the band's frenzied sounds and cavernous quiet even more dramatically than Burned Mind, which interspersed bludgeoning noise with respites of near silence. This time around, eerie, wide-open spaces make Human Animal the agoraphobic yin to Burned Mind's claustrophobic yang. The album begins with a stretch of relatively restrained tracks, but a lot happens in these quieter moments. Along with ominous metallic clanking and staticky electronics, "A Million Years" introduces John Olson's maimed saxophone lines, which trickle through the rest of Human Animal. Toward the end of the track, what sounds like feedback or squealing brakes is revealed to be Nate Young's disfigured vocals. It's a trick that the band uses often (and effectively), and is also echoed in the album's disturbingly blurry portrait of...something that could just as easily be a shrouded figure or a yeti. Pieces like "Rationed Rot" -- which also appeared on Black Vomit, a collaboration with Anthony Braxton that, interestingly enough, didn't feature its namesake Burned Mind track -- maintain the uneasy quiet of the album's first half. More and more, Wolf Eyes' subtler tracks resemble field recordings, making it all the easier to immerse yourself in the atmospheres they create (this is especially true of "Leper War," which, with its wind and rain sound effects and a bass lowing like some wounded animal, is the sonic equivalent of driving down a long expanse of bad road). It's not until the title track that Wolf Eyes unleash an onslaught of their strangely addictive heavy noise and mechanical chaos, though tracks such as "Rusted Mange" -- a digital shriek-laden workout so ferocious, it's hard to believe that it lasts just over two minutes -- make up for lost time. "The Driller," Human Animal's single, is another standout, offering a slightly more palatable taste of the caustic stuff on the rest of the album: its ugly thuds, aptly piercing electronics, and retching vocals are held together by the faintest semblance of a melody. However, the unlisted cover of No Fucker's "Noise Not Music" makes it clear where Wolf Eyes' allegiance lies. While Human Animal might be a shade less cohesive than Burned Mind, it still shows that this band is very capable of finding fresh ways of embellishing on its approach.

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