Here Lies Man
(RidingEasy Records)

Ambition forces the delicate aspect of balance to the creative process. Too much of it can, some times, be as confounding as a lack of it.

Just this morning, I forgot my headphones on the way to the gym. At 5AM, going back to the house is tantamount to giving up. So, I went in and did what had to be done at the mercy of the gym sound system and the tastes of the corporate facilities play list.

As you might guess, the results were bland. Not offensive, not bad… just… well, bland. Bland hip-hop, bland rock, bland pop reggae.

Coming home to review Here Lies Man’s self-titled record, boasted as a new fusion of afro-beat and Black Sabbath, my purgatory in bland was clearly at its end. The idea is enticing, too much to pass up, really. This was a record that I felt I had to review. Although those two genres spring up on opposite ends of my musical garden, I wanted so desperately to enjoy their hybridization and see where that went.

Well, I didn’t enjoy it; not really, at least. First for what works though. The four guys in HLM are excellent songwriters and peformers, meaning that all the tracks here were assembled and executed in interesting ways (take the percussion outro on “I Stand Alone” or the feedback drenched guitar lines on “Eyes of The Law”) and a few moments on the record come across as exciting. From those glimmers and movements, you could see where the band was going. They offer a few interesting notes into the top of the mix, giving their songs an out there, spectral feeling. And vocally, Marcos Garcia is beyond outstanding, his verses melding into the mix with a curious, ethereal result.

There are moments this almost works.

Ultimately, it’s how the rhythm section works that loses my ear. It’s busy; too busy against thick riffs, too herky-jerky for me to ease in and enjoy the record for all of its ambitious qualities. With guitars so bursting with dark moods, I want to sink into the mix and let their unique cosmology take over my imagination.

While the fusion at work on Here Lies Man does not amount to my musical cup of tea, the concept manages to go down swinging. This is an ambitious record, in the right way, per my previous note, reaching across wide swatches of the rock tapestry to find a new sound. Hats off to the Los Angeles band for trying to make this work out; for me, it did not, but there have been few records in recent memory that are as interesting.

Purchase the album here.


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