Review: Human Empathy Machine – Eating Out of the Trough (self-released, Jun 26)

You’d think the debut release from a solo hardcore project wouldn’t have this much oomph, but London multi-instrumentalist Gabe Jones comes through with the manic, thousand-horsepower energy of a full band. Part of what makes that possible on Eating Out of the Trough is how concise each and every track is, the intricate riff changes and miniaturized structures streamlined to maximum-efficiency savagery. Songs like “Coward” and “Meat” are great examples, blasting past even the possibility of a dull moment with breakneck speed, riding the climactic breakdown codas for just enough time to resolve them in the most satisfying way (5–6 listens deep and I still lose my shit at the shifting drum meter at the end of the latter). And as if the music itself wasn’t good enough on its own, Jones also selectively incorporates some of the best sample interludes I’ve encountered in a very long time; in between incessant, abrasive onslaughts of ruthlessly technical aggression we get doses of bleak hilarity in the form of a motivational appeal to aborted “children,” a rather strict and quite morbid requirement for potential friends, and an incensed request that whoever is listening “shut your fuck up.” Coupled with the dissonant, unrelenting angularity of it all (some tracks, like “Dumb Guy Zen,” have just as many spider-fingered arpeggio gymnastics and noodle-chugs as they do thick, downtuned chords), the auxiliary bits are a perfect counterpoint—contrastive texturally but consistent thematically. Would love to see a full-length LP from this guy, but if he just keeps making sub-10-minute blast buffets, I’m fine with that too.

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