Derdian – Human Reset
Reviewed by Kevin Hathaway
Well, Human Reset is a quirky one. Derdian used to play a bombastic, very Italian style of power metal like fellow countrymen Rhapsody (of Fire). The band’s first three albums were even a ridiculous, high fantasy story trilogy. Last year’s Limbo didn’t stray too far from the formula of the New Era trilogy, but Human Reset is a bit of a departure. It still sounds like Derdian at its core, but the lyrical themes relate more to real life topics like… the mafia? Committing suicide by jumping in front of a train? Humans destroying the planet and essentially themselves? Sweet mother of Hansi, this is dark!
The slightly off-putting lyricism aside, this is as Italian as it gets – keyboard-heavy, chorus-driven, intensely melodic guitar/keyboard duels, heavily accented vocals, Derdian has the whole checklist marked. It has all the elements, but something about Human Reset feels kind of empty, like the band is in a weird place and not sure what to do with its music, similar to Rhapsody Of Fire with last year’s Dark Wings Of Steel. But whereas Dark Wings Of Steel was a bit more uninspired (I didn’t like it, sue me), Human Reset comes off as a transitional album, and an awkward one at that. At times, it seems that Derdian wants to break away from the high fantasy schlock and do something a bit proggier and mature like Etherna’s Forgotten Beholder from earlier this year, but the execution isn’t as grandiose as Derdian would like to think it is. “These Rails Will Bleed” is the most noticeably stark example, taking a topic like suicide by way of jumping in front of a train and attaching a bouncy little ditty that clashes with the seriousness of the matter. Mercifully, the song is only three minutes long, but the fact that this song was conceived at all (and by a power metal band, no less), will boggle me for a while.
When the songs don’t go off the deep end though, it’s pretty standard fare. The “normal” tracks, while not leaving much of an impression, are still enjoyable. “Music Is Life,” on top of being the most true-to-life statement a song title has ever had, sports a catchy if slightly repetitive chorus (“So carry ooooon! So carry oooooon!”). The piano section halfway through helps make the song stand out a bit more. The title track kicks the album off in a bombastically Italian fashion with plenty of choirs to get one pumped about the rest of the album. (if only the rest of it were as consistent…)
My biggest problem with Human Reset is that Derdian should have taken a bit more time to decide which direction they wanted to go with this album. Some cuts are way too dark for a traditional power metal record, and the tunes in the style we have come to expect from Derdian just aren’t up to snuff. Last year’s Limbo was a much more consistent and enjoyable effort. The band is clearly confused at this point, and quite frankly so am I.
3.0 // 5