Klef Notes

Music Reviews

Afraid of Human

Afraid of Human is the first Indie Hard Rock band that I have heard that reminds me of Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, and Mötley Crüe.  

Hailing from Warren, Pennsylvania, the Afraid of Human brass-knuckles lineup includes Jimmie Botto (vocals), Brandon Kulp (guitar/vocals), Mike Key (guitar), Dusty Huff (bass), and John Grimm Sr. (drums). 

The music of Afraid of Human is nothing short of BRILLIANCE hooked to an amp.  Each song tells a story that the listening audience can relate to and combines modern edginess without sacrificing that classic serious Hard Rock sound we love.  

So glad to hear a band that is breathing pure energy into a genre of music that was beginning to wane in mainstream music by being placed behind Hip-Hop, Pop, Rock, and R&B.  

Their self-titled EP has eleven tracks: 

  1. Through the Lies
  2. All I Am
  3. Gut Check
  4. The One
  5. Now You Know
  6. Ghost in The Shadows
  7. Walk with Me
  8. Livin’ It Up
  9. Repercussions of War
  10. From the Ashes
  11. My Everything

I will be highlighting eight of the cuts in order to frame this perfect piece of Hard Rock art.  Get ready for some Hard Rock that will tighten the stitches of our American tapestry.   

The album opens with licks and arpeggio in full effect.  “Through the Lies” displays its protagonist as seeing through the lies of the antagonist and reacting accordingly.  And if the guitar solo that is surely conversing splendidly at the two minutes / four seconds mark does not get you hooked, then certainly the Glam Rock full gang-vocal chorus sound will connect to you.  And if that is still not enough to blow your mind as an opening track, at the tail-end of that exciting guitar solo, smooth backing vocals come in and then they drop like gravity, only to spring back up to take you to the outro.  One word – MAGIC! 

The way thatAll I Ambegins just gave me life.  The guitars were seriously talking shop on this track, and Jimmie Botto executes his lead very rhythmically.  Botto bobs and weaves through “All I Am” placing emphasis on what needs attention – he accents, scales back, and just rides with it vocally.  In addition, this song features an aggressive sound with a hook that gives us that 'fist in the air' emotion as well as being very memorable.  The guitar riff that begins the song ends the song along with a drum roll that is classic ROCK – John Grimm Sr. just kills it on those drums!

And when I say to get ready to fall in love, I mean it, because “The One” is just one of those types of songs that steals your heart!  A Hard Rock power ballad with guitars AND violins??  Pinch me, I must me dreaming.  It is rare that a Hard Rock band produces such beautifully composed ballads, and Afraid of Human has done just that with “The One.”  Fab!

Now You Know” is a great musical illustration of the band’s skill – the way that the guys composed this cut with that full-harmony hook creates a sense of depth.  In short, “Now You Know” defines the statement “what you see is what you get,” and it’s gritty, unapologetic, bodacious, and dripping with modulations.  Yo, I was flying on this song!

I simply love, love, love the way “Walk with Me” starts – the way the lead guitar introduces this cut, it is as if someone’s fingertips are tiptoeing on your shoulders.  This track is chock-full of surprises, from the way the soft leads give way to an explosive heavy chorus, on to the blended harmony hooks, and then the short musical bridge that encircles you at the two minutes / thirty seconds mark.

Not too many musicians can produce a distorted guitar effect without making it bleed into becoming just noise, but Afraid of Human has succeeded in this technique.  The way that this band has utilized distortion makes their guitars create that rousing effect that we all love, yet they also made them blend in enough to play along with other muscular instruments and it works!  “Livin’ It Up” is a rock-out YOLO anthem that will sit with you and become your shot-gun road-dog.  The hook is simply ah-some!

The tenth track, “From the Ashes,”is so seductive in its melody, it alone can open a door!  Featuring emotive lyrics that spell out the story of rising from regret, “From the Ashes” is full of spiraling guitars that emote a whirlwind type of healthy mental trip by pulling you in and then letting you go.  Make sure to listen carefully to the front man’s vocals that are full of character and yearning.

And if the sustained electric guitar does not captivate and spark your interest, then the cymbals and full drumline will do the job.  The MUSIC is everything on “My Everything.”  The final track in the installation contains a balanced music to vocal ratio while Botto has a nice tone to the vocal which keeps you engaged.  The melodic drop between the lead and hooks are spot-on righteous and builds a platform for the front man to ascend.  I also enjoyed how the bridge comes in and the track soars on to the outro.

In contrast to many Hard Rock bands where the screaming and intense volume of the hooks, leads, and adlibs are the most important element, what listeners will notice right up front is that this band is about the music and the message.  Out of the gate, Afraid of Human’s storylines are so easily understood, and their melodies are so vivid.  But do not get it twisted, Afraid of Human still gives us that BIG sound that die-hard Hard Rock fans live for, and it is impactful! – it is what made us fall in love with those Hard Rock icons in the past.  

Yes, it is all here readers:  anthemic hooks, guitars that inflict tingles down your spine, pounding drums, threading FX, and major vocalizations. 

The way these guys place their harmonies makes for good listening.  Moreover, the added texture to their verse progressions are surgically placed throughout a cut to give the most effect.  And, Jimmie Botto is like a vocal prize fighter when it comes to a Hard Rock vocalist.  Not to mention, after every yelled lyric or hard-as-nails hook, there will be a well-shaped music line.  Yes, you are dealing with some serious, talented, musicians when you hear the names John Grimm Sr., Dusty Huff, Brandon Kulp, and Mike Key. 

No wonder Afraid of Human is making waves.  These talented musicians’ instrumental combinations are absolutely chemical – like acid and base composed perfectly to alchemize your mind dude.  Afraid of Human are respecting the musical formula that Pantera, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, and Mötley Crüe (to name a few) laid down, but also mixing things up to produce variations of classic melodies and modern techniques.  I call it a HardRock Renaissance – the prose, command to the beat, pulsating melodies, vivacious riffs, spine-riveting licks, and heart throbbing vocals all melting in to make good music.  

They are a Hard Rock band on my list of 2019 artists to watch! 

“Afraid of Human” is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Music and multiple other retailers, so make sure to get your copy and live life on the edge! 

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That's what drew me to this band - that classic sound that we grew up LOVING to the max. Glad you downloaded a copy of the album. I see why you wish they practiced a block away from you. Tx Wendi
My daughter grew up telling me about her best friends dads band. I had never heard them play until about 6 months ago. ( my daughter is now almost 20) They are freaking amazing. They play the exact type of music I love to listen to. I can’t even really pick a favorite song they are all that good. When I found out I could get them on iTunes I downloaded the entire album and listen to them all the time. I just wish they practiced at Brandon Kulps house cuz it’s a block away from my house if he up there all the time.

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