Human Factor - Unleashed 3.5/5

Reviewed: 3-17-06


1. Sky warning
2. Inside hell
3. Human factor
4. We are more
5. Fire
6. Be the hero
7. Living in darkness
8. Time traveller l
9. Time Traveller ll
10. See the light
11. Faster

An unfortunate, but inevitable, consequence of the exponential proliferation of power metal releases over the last few years is that worthy bands and recordings may be lost in the shuffle. I fear that such is the case for Chile's Human Factor, whose debut CD 'Unleashed' (recorded back in 2004) was issued very quietly by Mausoleum Records a couple of months ago. With the lack of fanfare surrounding this release, I'd have overlooked it myself had I not recognized that Dan Elbelman (of Bloden-Wedd "fame", if you can call it that) is the band's lead singer and co-songwriter. A couple of former Witchblade members are also involved here. Because I greatly enjoy Witchblade's debut CD and Elbelman's work with Bloden-Wedd, and because this act is named after a criminally underrated Metal Church CD, I decided to give Human Factor a listen.

Not surprisingly, Human Factor share many attributes with Bloden-Wedd. The style is undiluted, aggressive, keyboard-free European power metal. Tempos thankfully tend toward the quick end of the spectrum, as Human Factor are not afraid to keep the accelerator floored and the double-bass flurries coming, speed detractors be damned. Much to my delight, Elbelman turns in another strong vocal performance. Although occasionally betrayed by his thick accent, he is a very good frontman, sounding like a grittier Rick Mythiasin (ex-Steel Prophet, New Eden), with perhaps a dash of Geoff Tate and an even smaller helping of Andre Matos (at least, in some of the vocal phrasings) tossed into the mix. The guitar tandem of principal songwriter Guillermo Olivares and Soledad Genua (who may garner some attention as one of the few female axe-slingers in power metal) churns out fiery dueling leads, along with the occasional harmony and a full complement of crushing riffs. On the negative side, the production is somewhat muddy, the mix leaves a bit to be desired, and the levels tend to oscillate from one song to the next, which is hardly surprising considering the likelihood that this CD was recorded piecemeal on a shoestring budget.

Where, as here, the performances are spot-on and the talent threshold is satisfied, this type of CD stands or falls on the strength of the songs. In that respect, Human Factor have delivered a commendable effort. The concise, catchy songwriting is more than adequate, as Olivares and his bandmates have a knack for crafting straightforward, 4-minute ditties with well constructed choruses and plenty of speed. There are no real duds in the 11 tracks presented on 'Unleashed', but tunes such as "Human factor", "Time traveler ll", "We are more", and "Living in darkness" stand out as particularly fine examples of Human Factor's brand of power metal excitement.

In the final analysis, 'Unleashed' should be a blind buy for fans of Bloden-Wedd, Witchblade or other speedy South American pure power metal bands such as Burning in Hell or Thunderblast. Those readers who are not enamored of that particular branch of the metal family tree may wish to try before buying, as Human Factor are the kind of niche act that might be readily dismissed for their lack of originality, minimal dynamics, and subpar recording quality. From my vantage point, though, 'Unleashed' is a fine debut. If they continue to hone their songwriting, beef up their production and mix, and get some promotional and distributional support from their record label, I see no reason why Human Factor can't ascend to the vanguard of the South American power metal scene.




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