Human Animal - Dark Days EP
Record Label: Self-Released
Release Date: October 16th, 2012
A few nights ago, I wrote a piece about the state of my local scene here in Erie, Pennsylvania. The piece attempted to explain the legacy we called Lake Effect Hardcore, the state of the scene now and what has changed in the past 15 years. This was a triumph to me, not only because it was being published in a local zine but also because it broke the typical review/interview/feature format I was used to writing (not that this is a bad thing). The rush that came with interviewing certain “key players” in the community brought on feelings of nostalgia involving my brother and I’s youth, but also reminded me of a review I have been sitting on for close to a year. It’s a review that deserves to be rewritten.
Throughout the entirety of Human Animal’s debut EP, Dark Days, the band not only surpasses the expectations set by members’ prior outfits but shatters Lake Effect’s dormancy entirely. In a scene that had admittedly taken a tumble over the past ten years, Human Animal manages to build from their roots and act as a breath of fresh air where many other generic hardcore acts have become stale. Look no further than the title track, which wastes no time opening the EP with a wailing guitar solo before picking up the pace and getting the blood pumping with every “woah-oh” or gang vocal that trademarks Dark Days. The guitar solo is no isolated incident either, most notably making a return during “Out Cold”. This is all building up to what is easily the EP’s strongest track, “Swine Flu”. Fast and furious, the standout is essentially relentless and acts as a ‘sum of all parts’, eventually leading into a massive breakdown led by vocalist EMS’s howl of “I’ve seen your kind before…”.
Perhaps most impressive about the release is its pristine production, which certainly stands out for a local act so young in their career. Mixing the instruments in a way where each have their own destructive moments (particularly the devastating drumwork on “Faded Pictures” and the crashing guitars of epic closer “Time Tells All”), Dark Days‘ production is just tight enough to match its execution. For those of you who may not have felt the wrath of the Lake Effect, you’re probably wondering, “Why should I care, Aaron?” Let’s put it like this- in five songs and 16 minutes, Human Animal has managed not only to reinvigorate a local scene but release one of my favorite (and only) traditional hardcore EP’s of the past three years, incorporating distinct metal edge. And, it’s offered on Bandcamp as a free download. I didn’t write this review with any obligation; I wrote this review because Human Animal could easily crush much of the competition presented by their peers. Prepare to embrace the Effect.