Former Exit Calm guitarist and accomplice of Mark Lanegan (co-writer on 2017’s ‘Gargoyle’ and the forthcoming ‘Somebody’s Knocking), Rob Marshall has crafted a collaboration replete with some of rock’s biggest hitters.

Mark ‘Screaming Trees/QOTSA’ Lanegan contributes to four songs with their mood and texture in the same vein as his last two ‘post-punk’ postcards. Additionally, Dave ‘Depeche Mode’ Gahan, (Reverend) Jim Jones, Mark ‘Ride’ Gardener’, poet/playwright/philosopher Carl Hancox Rux, Ron Sexsmith and John ‘The Membranes/Gold Blade’ Robb all reach back to their respective pasts and point to perspective futures to sermonise, preach out and touch me. And you.

In the eyes, ears and heart of Marshall humanism is “Life, birth, death, religion, mortality. A philosophical stance, looking at the value of people and what we mean to each other…It’s about creation vs. evolution, Heaven vs. Hell, the grave vs. eternal life, and how human beings react to those concepts. It’s an album about what hope means to us all.”

Applying these heady concepts and conceptions to preconceptions of inception (birth>life>death = mortality) the idea was also inspired by the sad passing of Gavin ‘Sunhouse/Evangelist’ Clark in 2015. Marshall came up with the song titles and music and asked the vocalists to provide their own lyrics with the result a downbeat yet never morose collection.

The feral ‘Beasts of the Nation’ showcases Lanegan’s distinctive baritone, like a grizzled, world-weary man of the book he delivers a disquisition of hope(less) direction: ‘Nowhere is a place I’ll never leave’. This one-way descent to an unknown abyss is backed by grinding, bass-heavy beat-heat.

‘English Ghosts’ is haunted by the spectres of the motorik metronomic thrum-drum German groups Can and Neu! all smothered with singer John Robb’s distinctive growl-scowl in a dance of malevolence.

‘Shoot Kill’ echoes Led Zeppelin’s ‘Houses of the Holy’ and that song’s tribal tub-thumping exorcising exercising. It’s the kind of song Primal Scream used to do before Bobby Gillespie sold-out and joined the nouveau riche set.

Mark Gardener’s slot-spot on ‘When the lights go out’ is a shoegaze blues-haze of the sort the Ride man is a dab hand at crafting. An uplifting finale.

Humanist is a holy union of rock souls and cerebral scrolls.