(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the new album by Colorado-based Allegaeon, which is out now on the Metal Blade label.)
I really fucking like technical melodic death metal. I like melodic death metal in general, but when you’ve also got technical guitar showpieces that call to mind melodic lines written by great classical composers of old, it’s just a trip. Allegaeon have been on top of this particular game, as far as newer American blood is concerned.
I’ve really enjoyed the way these guys have played with their sound since they first began putting out music; the evolution they’ve undergone has been interesting to watch. Their self-titled EP was simply a solid, excellent tribute to the melodic death metal style as a whole, with the band wearing their influences on their sleeves. Their debut Fragments of Form and Function was a technical marvel for the style, while Formshifter took a grittier turn and turned up the focus on groove.
I have to admit, however, that while I loved Formshifter, I was slightly turned off by the heavier groove direction. While the music still had the signature Allegaeon tech-melodeath style going on, that aspect of the music was diminished to accommodate the magnification of groove. Which is why I am glad that Elements of The Infinite now exists. It proves that a band who I had honest fears might be stagnating into groove-driven drudgery were merely revealing a different shade of their sound. Returning with the technicality and full-frontal speed, Allegaeon have stormed back this time, not as a MELODIC death metal band, but as a melodic DEATH METAL band, if that makes any sense.
photo by Matthew Zinke
This is Allegaeon’s quality song-writing record. It’s their most technical and most brutal yet, which is all well and good, but their success in honing their song-writing talent on top of that is what makes this album a rare achievement for any band: an overall, across-the-board improvement in sound. The scope of influences heard in the music is also much greater, with elements taken from thrash metal and prog metal (there is an EXTREME Symphony X vibe minus clean vocals in some places) added to the band’s assault palette, and that gives Elements of The Infinite a feeling of renewed energy for the band. Take an already energetic and inspired group like Allegaeon and give them an extra jumpstart of vigor and inspiration, and you have a recipe for excellence.
And that also leads me to make a statement that may appear as if I have no idea what I’m talking about: Elements of The Infinite is basically death metal Symphony X and Nevermore mixed together. I know the description may at first blush seem nonsensical, but listen to the singles they released up to the album’s street date and tell me if they don’t support that statement. As I hear it, the album as a whole is drenched in those two influences, whether the Allegaeon guys themselves perceive it or not.
The riffs are slithery and agile, filled with piss- and vinegar-soaked swagger. Ezra Haynes is vocally at his best, particularly his serpent-hiss highs, which expel the most fine-tuned blackened vocal napalm. There is also a particularly borderline-belligerent focus on epic song-writing. The drama in the compositions grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. Even if some of the songs are relatively straightforward, the combination of the riffs and melodies makes the heft of the songs as a whole titanic in the scale of their audio carnage.
I don’t really have much else to say. I’d like to write a thousand-word-or-so review, but it is enough to say this is just… quality Allegaeon material. It’s the Allegaeon we’ve all been listening to, but at their absolute best. Not a thing is lacking here, and not one song or section of a song feels tacked on at all. This is a perfect melodic death metal album, and a testament to why this band should be regarded as a leading force in American metal as a whole.