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Standard Human Experience – Never Belong

Standard Human Experience
Never Belong
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 01 August 2021, 8:49 AM

Hailing from North, S.H.E. strides with a taste of tradition and unconventionality. A delicate mix of craftmanship and finely brewed artistic vision comes to fruition on this six-song album about finding one's place in the world and dealing with life's unavoidable misfortunes. The group's effort came alive using old school technology with appreciation towards 70's Progressive Rock pioneers such as YES, GENESIS, and RUSH in mind. The songs got captured on tape, something tangible in the abstract digital modern era. The band also explores modern music with appetite but with special care for its' roots kept in mind. The album was recorded in Soundmix Recording Studio during the summer of 2020. “Never Belong” contains six tracks.

“Population Control” leads off the album. It opens with a thumpy bass line and guitars, and some melancholy tones. The vocals are really nothing special, but the instrumentation is tight. At times, they go a bit harsh, as the music grows angrier. The guitar solo is actually quite good, with plenty of reverb. “Hero Oversold” begins with clean guitars and an air of mystery. Tense tones lead to a brief reprieve, followed by a great riff with some time shifting. The darkness continues, but the chorus is tender and sweet, and the clean guitars and ethereal vocals are quite charming. It builds to a crescendo of more hateful sounds, reminding me of the earlier days of RUSH.

“Never Belong” opens with clean harmonic guitar notes, and a running little rhythm part. It moves to a steady groove of more positive tones, with a jovial rhythm. Once again, the chorus is where the band really turns up the melody. Backing vocals thicken the sound, though I am not sure where they come from. This song could fairly easily be a radio hit, with its easy listening sound. “Take This Longing” begins with a slow fade-in. From there, it appears to be a tale of woe, or longing, or both. The vocals are low and dreamy for the most part, until the music snaps with the anger of someone at their last straw. The combination of the two styles is quite compelling.

“Traces of You” is another song that opens with more of those clean guitar harmonics, and the easy strumming of guitars. You begin to feel a wave of euphoria wash over you, and begin to solidify the band’s talent for writing poignant, emotional songs that stick with you. The backing vocals are quite pretty. “Container” closes the album. It’s a seven-minute opus, that opens with that “Hemispheres” type of late 70’s sound. The melancholy tones continue, but again are combined with a bit of a sharp edge at times. The free-flowing bass lines here are amazing. Though it closes somewhat anti-climatically, it is still a great song.

The vocals are probably the least impressive part of the album as a whole, though they did grow on me a bit as the album progressed, and they do work quite well with the music.  The bass work is outstanding, as is the guitar work. Varied in their approach, but full of effects, they envelop you with a rich, lavish sound, with much of the expertise of a musician like Alex Lifeson. The album is definitely interesting enough to hold your attention throughout the experience, and is an ode to old-school trios like RUSH and TRIUMPH. Fans of Progressive Rock will surely find this to their liking.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Population Control
2. Hero Oversold
3. Never Belong
4. Take this Longing
5. Traces of You
6. Container
Touko Lehenkari – Vocals
Sami Perttunen – Guitar
Tom Pohjola – Bass
Joel Huttunen – Drums
Record Label: WormHoleDeath


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Edited 21 September 2021

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