Metal Blade’s roster is impressive. The addition of technical progressive death outfit Allegaeon (pronounced “uh-legion”) serves to fortify the label’s reputation as one of the best in metal today. They made a wise move grabbing these guys. So many bands blur into each other, each sounding like the other and no more than a dilution of whatever extreme genres are in vogue. On Fragments of Form and Function, Allegaeon combine technical proficiency with excellent songs to produce a dynamic take on extreme melodic metal.
The high quality production of Dave Otero must be given credit. Each instrument is crisp and sharp, crystal clear. Even the bass – an instrument that seems to provide no end of nightmares for producers unsure what to do with it – is audible. In so doing, Otero has allowed each band member’s high level of musicianship presence in the mix. Drummer/machine Jordan Belfast lays a concrete foundation that is unyielding in its technical precision. Vocalist and lyricist Ezra Haynes’ growl is intense, utilised for dark delivery as well as laconic effect. Guitarist Gregg Burgess’ skills are untouchable, his fretwork is fluent, his riffs brutal, and his classical training shines through particularly in the coda of Biomech – Vals 666, adding melancholic majesty to a technical palate overflowing with technique and feel. Shredder Ryan Glisan’s work compliments Burgess and together they make for a brutal unit with solos that exude feel and inventive riffing skills. And growling beneath all of this is bassist Corey Archuleta, providing low-end support and harmonious countermelodies in the breakdowns. This combination and composition of two guitars and bass bring together melody and harmony in remarkable style. Check out the melodic instrumental sections of From Seed to Throne and Accelerated Evolution.
Songs? Slow grooves, hook-laden riffs, huge grooves, and blast beats – key elements in the band’s sound – are subordinate to the band’s focus on intellectual songwriting fleshed out by provocative lyrics centering on scientific development in such areas as evolution and stem cell research. The Cleansing ominously opens proceedings with an atmospheric keyboard intro leading into an onslaught of pace and precision that not once desists throughout the whole album. The God Particle takes death metal extremities, technical guitar work, and demon-like drumming to a new plane. The Renewal has dramatic pace changes with well-executed sequences involving dynamic shifts between riffs and lead guitar bursts. There is the desolate speed-freak abandon of Atrophy of Hippocrates and the exceptional Accelerated Evolution that closes the album. That’s not to say that the other tracks are inferior. Far from it. This is an album that shines from start to finish.
With this, their debut full-length, Allegaeon have realized that it’s not enough to be technically proficient or ear-splittingly loud. Technique, musicality and brutality are combined here to make listenable music. Watch this band.
4 out of 5
Stand out tracks: Across the Folded Line, Biomech – Vals 666, and Accelerated Evolution