REVIEW: Babirusa – Humanoid [2020]

Artist: Babirusa

Album: Humanoid

            Humanity is an interesting, abstract and ultimately frail thing. Superficially, humanity is a series of neurologic and anatomic developments that give rise to higher levels of thought, conscience and function—the ability to act autonomously, recognize consequences for actions, use thumbs, whatever—it can ultimately be pared down to some neurons and opposable fifth digits. On a more detailed examination, however, humanity buckles under scrutiny. What is it that really makes someone human? What if a truth that we’ve held as uniform for so long—the notion that humanity is the “ultimate” stage in a series of evolutions—isn’t true at all. What If there’s something else? What if it’s right under our noses? This question sets the stage for the immense, intellectual and immolating conceptual release by deathcore juggernauts Babirusa. Pure Australian aggression, Babirusa’s Humanoid blends elements of technicality into a backbone of murderous brutality, using everything from scathing riffs to blistering breakdowns in an effort to beat the listener into dust. What’s more is that while doing so, Humanoid tells a somewhat The Matrix-esque tale of an individual inoculated into a parallel universe crafted and run by Artificial Intelligence—an immersive framework that makes Babirusa more than just another throwback-style turn-of-the-decade deathcore band.

            Needless to say, I’ve never found myself immersed in a universe run by conscious robots—but if I were to imagine what it might be like to be “plugged in,” I’d imagine it would be an awful lot like the kickstart to Humanoid. From the opening salvo of “343” into “Desolation System,” the instrumental onslaught Babirusa provide is nothing short of terrifying. Percussionist Rangi Barnes (I, Valiance, Gouge, Tomb of Doom) is a human onslaught behind the kit, oscillating hither and to between lacerating blast beats and bone-crushing breakdowns. Even the instrumental album closer, “ZEROHOUR” is a stark display of skill, as his precision and power shine through in Humanoid’s live-drum foundation. Atop Barnes’ brutality soars fretwork from guitarists Tate Senhenn and Dean White. Senhenn and White’s technical prowess gives songs like “Catatonia” and “Abomination” elements of skin-peeling technical deathcore, while “Pendulum Swing” and “Desolation System” are more raunchy displays of the duo’s ability to craft dissonant grooves that segue smoothly into soul-smothering bouts of slam-tinted aggression. “Desolation System” is an outstanding example, as a matter of fact, of the band blending their more technical elements with some “good ol deathcore.” Here, Senhenn and White’s ruthless leads play remarkably off of Barnes’ breakneck percussion, not skipping a beat when it comes time to drop into dismal displays of downtuned depravity. As it stands, the trio create deathcore with a warm, nostalgic vibe still rife with enough modern flair to give it contemporary curb appeal.

            Where Babirusa’s instrumentation alone offers compelling enough a reason to give Humanoid a chance, the band’s biggest selling point is yet to be detailed—the dynamic duo that serves as the band’s vocal element. Frontmen Kyle Williams and Rheese Peters (yes, that Rheese Peters) spearhead the band’s vicious vocal onslaught on the listener. With nine of the ten tracks featuring some ferocious, furious and oppressive monsoon of murderously intense screams, bellows and shrieks, Humanoid is a juggernaut. Where it would be journalistically “precise” to point out the songs on Humanoid that truly shine when it comes to the duo’s vocal talents, the truth is that the whole thing does. Peters—well known for his work in Australia’s jam-packed deathcore scene already—and Williams—a relative newcomer—both dominate throughout the record’s duration. Just about every song features some vocal element to latch on to, be it impressive speed “Resistor” or simply insane range (“Abomination,” and others).

            Humanoid is a crushing deathcore release that could just as easily be from 2009 as it could be from 2020. With just as much ability to use nostalgia as means to lull the listener in as contemporary, crushing (but rough-around-the-edges) production, Babirusa have birthed a brutalizing display of deathcore that shines in the context of its peers, but also in the context of the genre as a whole.


For Fans Of: A Night in Texas, I Shot the Sheriff, As Blood Runs Black, Rings of Saturn

By: Connor Welsh