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Humanfly: Awesome Science

Yorkshire prog-metal torch-bearers keep it loud and hairy.

Leeds quartet Humanfly have spent four albums honing a kind of expansive, heavy prog sound steeped in the dense, sludgy, authentically analogue feel of the early 1970s.

Black Sabbath wrestle naked with Kyuss and King Crimson across much of their latest opus, whose six sprawling tracks build organically from wonky jazzoid noodling to churning blues-rock to thunderous psych-metal arpeggio avalanches from dual guitarists John and Andy Sutcliffe.

At a whisker under 15 minutes, the album’s symphonic centrepiece is The Armour Of Science, which begins as a muscular punk-metal racket and ends as a Santana-at-Woodstock cosmic blues jam, visiting all points on the heavy spectrum in between. The standout, though, is The Apple That Never Fell, a relatively compact nine minutes of churning horror-movie murk and skull-squishing speed-riffs, like Deep Purple inventing Slayer a decade early.

In truth, Humanfly novices may do better to start with the band’s previous release, Darker Later, from 2010. Nothing here is quite as angry or gnarly as that album’s English And Proud And Stupid And Racist, nor does anything match the spoken-word epic Heavy Black Slow for preposterous rock-opera ambition. But for anyone who prefers progressive rock at its most hairy and untamed, Awesome Science should help you party like it’s 1974.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.