Believer – Transhuman (Metal Blade Records)

Thursday, 21st March 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

The dreaded follow-up to a comeback album. It’s a tough field to navigate through, that’s for sure, especially when you’re as cult as Believer. When the band came back in 2009 with Gabriel it was a pleasant surprise, for their cerebral thrash angle still held plenty of weight. On Transhuman it still does, bettering its predecessor.

With a storyline revolving around actual transhumanism (hence, the title), Believer wisely shoves off the Christian metal tag that has hovered around them since their inception. It’s pretty null and void now, which is fine – there’s a lot of substance here, and guitarist/vocalist Kurt Bachman is more than capable of relaying his points with his always-excellent thrash bark. Aiding matters is an improved production job, which tops the grainy audio heard on Gabriel.

There’s a wealth of numbers here that are easy to latch onto right away, specifically the modern metal and chorus-driven “Lie Awake” and the prog sway of “End of Infinity,” which opens with a riff that labelmates Between the Buried And Me would be wise to pick. “G.U.T.” is probably the pick of the litter, with a simple, yet highly effective verse riff that gives Bachman plenty of room to yelp, then delve into a swirling chorus. “Ego Machine” gets the much-needed tempo push at the mid-point of the album, and closing things out are “Entanglement” and “Mindsteps,” two songs in which the band dusts off their underrated melodic edge.

This won’t bowl anyone over, and Believer is a distant third behind Atheist and Cynic in the progressive death metal reformation race, yet Transhuman isn’t an album to sleep on. Bachman and co. still have a lot of ammunition in them, and you’d be hard-pressed to knock the back-to-back surge of Gabriel and this. Not a lot of bands can lay claim to that. In fact, the jury is out if even Atheist and Cynic can…

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