Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde Review

Just about a year and a half ago, I shocked the world1 by covering Humanity’s Last Breath‘s sophomore record, Abyssal. Djenty deathcore is not normally in my wheelhouse, but every once in a while, I get a craving for something über heavy. I really liked a lot of what I heard on Abyssal. Humanity’s Last Breath paint horrific scenes using an crushingly bleak sonic palette, and when things clicked on Abyssal, it shook the very ground. But as much as I loved most of what the band did on that record, it felt like it could have used some trimming to sharpen the impact. When I heard that followup Välde was scheduled for a February release, it immediately landed a spot on my most-anticipated albums of 2021 list. As the world continues to unravel while we battle the unbridled spread of a respiratory illness, who could be better poised to shout into the nihilistic abyss of the current zeitgeist than Humanity’s Last Breath?

As evidenced by its Mariusz Lewandowski-joins-the-Console Wars artwork, Välde has upped the bleakness factor found on Abyssal. The promo materials state that the band’s intent on Välde was to put “further emphasis on the atmospheric nature of the band’s sound and the use of dissonance, creating a claustrophobic, dense record that pulverises the senses.” Well, mission accomplished. Where Abyssal was a tale of two halves of an album, Välde is a cohesive journey into the darkness that refuses to allow the listener to come up for air. Single “Tide” provides the best example of the tactics that Humanity’s Last Breath use on the record. The intro demonstrates that the band’s Meshuggah-meets-Vildjharta sound is just as strong as ever, and their devotion to atmosphere shows up in the brief calm before the immense doom chords appear to undergird the clean-sung outro verse. It’s a strong single and an album highlight.

“Tide” also acts as the capstone of Välde‘s ferociously strong middle section. Together with the gloomy crawl of “Descent,” the djentle embrace of “Spectre,” the roaring death metal of “Dehumanize,” and the schizophrenic onslaught of “Hadean,” “Tide” forms an unfuckwithable core that demonstrates Humanity’s Last Breath‘s near limitless potential to push the boundaries of heavy music. These tracks also show that while Abyssal may have landed like a mish-mash of multiple genres, this time around the band has condensed their influences into a cohesive signature sound. Välde flows like one hopeless journey thanks to the band’s focus on atmosphere.

Unfortunately, this journey is a bit too long. Last time around, I pointed out that the band used instrumental interludes to mixed affect, and I’m happy to report that this is no longer an issue. Välde features two instrumentals, and both play meaningful roles in the context of the whole album. Unfortunately, there are a couple of proper tracks that give the record a feeling of bloat. The greatest offender is closing number “Vittring.” Not only is it the album’s longest track, it’s also the track that does the least. Droning on and on, it really kills the momentum that the aforementioned middle section worked so hard to build. Couple this with the fact that the fantastic penultimate track “Futility” is preceded by another filler track in the form of “Sirens,” and you’ve got a recipe for a sharp drop off in quality at the end of the record. If “Sirens” and “Vittring” were to be cut, we’d be looking at a 43-minute album that would rate as very good or even great.

God damn, I wish I was reporting something different here. I really like Humanity’s Last Breath, and I believe that they will eventually blow us away with a record that shows them firing on all cylinders from start to finish. Until then, I’d still encourage you to listen to Välde and glean the hard-hitting gems like “Descent,” “Spectre,” “Dehumanize,” “Hadean,” and “Tide.” Your bench press stats will thank you.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 12th, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. Sometimes I overestimate how important I am.
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