Human Factor – “4.Hm.F” (R.A.I.G. 2012, R074)

Human Factor are a Russian quartet that formed in 2011 to create music intended to be a “contemporary instrumental crossover between space, progressive, and alternative rock”. Across the 8 tracks on their debut CD, Human Factor combine these influences to varying degrees of success.

Revealing Secrets is a cinematic rocker with periodic electronics that give it a Space Rock edge, and keyboards that provide a Prog infusion. This segues smoothly into The Mist, a more or less straightforward rocker. It tries to shift gears a lot, though I think the “alternative rock” elements keep it from generating any real excitement. Things start to take off with Polaris, a high intensity Progressive Rocker with metal influences. Tika is a good tension builder that leads to a rocking explosion and includes a seductive melodic guitar solo.

For me, four of the eight tracks represent Human Factor’s potential. Nearly half of the 8 minute Yellowstone has a tension building spacey atmospheric introductory feel. It’s got a great melody and the dual guitars work together beautifully. Once it gets crankin’ the band goes a bit metallic, but then closes with the spacey theme that opened the piece. Definitely one of the better examples of blending Space and Progressive rock. Stargazer is a high energy metallic Prog rocker with Ozric Tentacles styled electronics, a sci-fi keyboard melody, and even a brief jazz fusion bit. Now this is a really interesting blend of influences which Human Factor bring together seamlessly. A smoker! Objects In The Mirror (are closer than they appear) takes a while to finds its way, but once it does it’s a hot Space-Prog tune. Very powerful and majestic, and includes some cool mission control samples. Finally, Equilibrium opens with a heavenly spaced out ambience, shimmering guitar and rhythmically grooving percussion, before settling into a rocking groove with lots of both spaced out and Prog Rock keys. The guitar at one point has a Shoegaze feel, but later transitions to a spaced out metal sound. An excellent closing track and another outstanding blend of influences.

In summary, 4.Hm.F showcases a band with lots of possibilities. Half the album struggled to hold my attention, mostly due to a lack of compositional strength. But when Human Factor find the right combination of Space Rock, Prog and Metal elements, along with solid melodic hooks, they really shine.

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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

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