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Album Spotlight: HUM - "Inlet"

>>After a twenty-two-year absence in releasing new music, Hum is back with Inlet, an eight-song album that is much like their last release, Downward is Heavenward. The songs reach up to nine minutes in length and the crunchy dirge guitar has triumphantly returned alongside some of the best drumming the 1990’s had to offer.

The vocals are still juxtaposed against the guitar, a soft and poetic calming soothe over heavy wet wool sounding through the amps. It’s comforting and it was then too. It feels as if there’s chaos all around but it’s being centered, slightly controlled, and its super ephemeral and just for you. The opening track Waves, has an even keel, a moderate tempo, and a sleepy melody. It’s a nice opening track after 20 plus years of absence, feeling introspective and meditative.

Desert Rambler has a different feel than most Hum songs of the past, a possible look into an evolution of sound. The guitar is the same, but the melody and approach to the vocals isn’t. The track is nine minutes long and around the three-minute mark the vocals change into a bit more typical, but then quickly move into a ghostly haunt. The track is as stated, a bit rambling, but the sound is intoxicating, and like a river with many bends there seems to be something new around every corner, even if it's all the same scene.

The Summoning has a distinct metal vibe to it. The track opens with open hi-hats being used to count off before the guitar comes in. It’s a classic way to start a metal song. The second guitar is rich with reverb. You expect a screaming Phil Anselmo to jump in with some piercing screech, a hardline tune about death and destruction. The guitar is downright evil, it sounds much like a slowed down version of Pantera, or something Corrosion of Conformity might have whipped up in decades past. It’s fun, actually. The quick break down around the six-and-a-half-minute mark is a nice surprise.

The album is nostalgic if nothing else. The feeling of ripped jeans and flannel, radio stations that were playing music no one had ever heard, and an MTV that was occasionally being hosted by cool bands and actually showing music videos is prevalent throughout the listen. Those songs and band are approaching thirty years of age and at this point are more relic than relevant. Inlet is aptly title, the album serving as a space to let those memories back in, flooding an area of the brain that has mostly gone dry since the late 90’s when Britany Spears took over the air waves and grunge turned to bubble gum pop.

In the long run this album will be forgotten, never reaching an acme higher than a nostalgic overview for a mostly over thirty-five crowd. But perhaps it will serve as an inlet for a younger generation to peruse Hum’s earlier work, or maybe it will allow them the jump into the foray of summer festivals when they start up again. If it proves useful beyond nostalgia then it’s a major win for the band. If it stops at nostalgia then it proves as a major win for Hum fans and fans of a time long gone past.

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