While Italian death metal has never been able to get a word in edgeways when competing with its rivals from Sweden or the USA, the genre is in ruder health these days due to the international success of acts such as Fleshgod Apocalypse and Hour of Penance. This resurgence in fortunes has led to a few old hands reforming for another crack of the whip and Tuscan stalwarts Humangled are one of them. Prodromes of a Flatline (Bakerteam) is the group’s second effort since 2010’s Fractal (Abyss) turned a few heads. So is it enough to gain them a seat at the big boys table?
Unfortunately the answer is a definite no. While their strand of death metal certainly packs a punch, most noticeably on opening track ‘Liberté, Égalité, Brutalité’, there is not only too little going on throughout Prodromes of a Flatline to merit repeated spins, but crucially nothing to make the band stand out from the crowd. There’s not enough of the technicality of Nile, the brutality of Cryptopsy or the catchiness of Deicide, so we are left with a rather unappetising lumpen stew of the most bog standard elements of death metal, bereft of flavour and passion.
Too often it feels that the band is just going through the motions, often with some rather forced and clumsy transitions between parts that really should have been ironed out in the recording studio. At worst they come across as simply derivative as on the Death-aping ‘Intimacy Curse’ and God knows what possessed them to record such a horrible cover of ‘To Mega Therion’ and tack it on the end of the record. At best they’re a support band that tries hard for twenty-five minutes with the occasional half-catchy riff. However, in this day and age, it’s certainly not worth reforming for