ALBUM REVIEW: The Human Condition ‘Pathways’

(December 2015)

This UK doom horde, featuring ex-members of Unsilence, Misericorde and The River, creates the kind of melancholic, melodic doom metal that you might expect from a band with that potent musical DNA. Fans of those bands will find in ‘Pathways’ a familiar sound and mood; warm tones, gentle tempos and fluid, drifting arrangements. It is doom in the vein of Warning, but perhaps not as sharply tragic or insightful.

Six years on from the band’s debut album, The Human Condition seem to have changed very little. ‘Pathways’ is a placidly epic take on life’s hardships and woes. Some of the songs are more memorable than others. The title track, for example, with its graceful guitar solo, is a slow and patient masterclass in misery, while the second half of ‘The Things I Should Have Said’ stands out as a bright spell amid the sullen malaise.

The glowering heaviness of ‘The Gifts I Gave’ creates a genuinely moving and involving song, packed with confusion, confession and musical drama. And, best of all, ’22 Years’ is eight minutes of blissful agony, during which the band’s progressive nature does not interrupt the momentum.

Elsewhere, those more fidgety tendencies can undermine the musical foundations of a song. The track ‘Chrysalis’, for example, rather than experiencing a transformative process, shifts between ideas and begins to lose its sense of direction.

Vocally, the regal concepts often out-strip the earnest delivery, which lacks the emotional dexterity to give tracks a stamp of individuality. Here, The Human Condition hark back to 90s doomsters Stillborn – traditional, beautiful, flawed.

Often magical and epic, sometimes frustrating, The Human Condition’s ‘Pathways’ is an ambitious and layered album that you can explore and enjoy over and over.


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