Human Impact Credit: Jammi York

If you haven’t already heard Human Impact, you could be forgiven for wondering whether the New York four-piece were soothsayers who’d prophesied humankind’s current struggle with an invisible threat. On “Respirator,” from the group’s new self-titled debut, vocalist and guitarist Chris Spencer (formerly of Unsane) laments, “We’ve made a mistake / Problems that can’t be undone / I see what this will bring / I see, respirator to breathe.” And on “Protestor,” which kicks off with plodding bass and off-kilter keys, Spencer delivers an eerily prescient opening line: “A virus we can’t control.” But this band of noise-rock luminaries—Spencer, bassist Chris Pravdica (Swans, Xiu Xiu), keyboardist Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop), and drummer Phil Puleo (Cop Shoot Cop, Swans)—are so well-versed in dark, apocalyptic, and political themes that it was practically inevitable that some of their lyrics would resonate with our increasingly terrible reality. The longtime friends formed Human Impact in 2018, then spent much of 2019 writing material before making their live debut in New York last August. It’ll be a while before the rest of the country gets to experience the band onstage, but the new album should mollify curious fans (though it might also make the wait for a live show even more difficult). Human Impact aren’t reinventing the wheel—these guys know what they’re good at, and they’re sticking to it, crafting masterful songs whose cacophonous noise, gritty playing, and inescapable hooks summon an atmosphere of despair, dissatisfaction, and isolation. The effect is uncomfortable, for sure, but it’s also cathartic—sometimes the only way to find hope is to dive through the muck.   v