Though Amplitusion presents itself as a band, it’s just one guy. James Sheehan is the guy who wrote and essentially played everything on the latest release, The Human Zoo. He draws from a very direct pool of 80s metal styles: death, black, symphonic, and particularly thrash – and foes so very well. That makes this release any old school metal fan’s dream come true.
Then there are the interludes, which kind of sound like the soundtrack to every 80s slasher franchise you remember. (And if you don’t remember, go watch them, they’re great.) To be fair, he refers to the project as “Soundtrack Metal,” so really, mission accomplished. That theme doesn’t just apply to the music either; even the cover seems like a direct call back to the likes of Kreator, Possessed, Motorhead, Testament, et al.
Even the scream of gory imagery found almost exclusively in albums from that time period. “Harder for the Martyr,” “Power to the Sheeple” (that one featuring a hook that really only works because it’s a lot funnier than it realizes it is), “Dinner with Demons,” can anyone say Seasons in the Abyss?
I’m being unfair. There are actually some truly beautiful moments here. “Mourning for Life” is serene in its execution and echoes the other tracks’ tendencies to use surprising inclusions like a flute in a very tasteful way. And when the riffs rip, they really do rip. As a metal vocalist, Sheehan is capable if not commanding. He goes for all the extreme styles, but he lacks a little bit of the bite of some of the influences like Chuck Billy.
Overall, it’s a decent listen, it’s not very long, and there’s plenty of material to headbang to. Nothing really sticks, but the ride is fun, and what else really matters anyway? We’re all gonna die. Metal.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Mike Milito