Being honest, Allegaeon have been a band that caught us by surprise. Not being a band that we were aware of and then seeing them at London’s O2 Academy Islington where they supported Obscura and being completely blown away by their live performance, they’re a band who won us over straight away. Riley McShane’s vocals but also more importantly his stage presence and energy is wonderful to see. He’s so into the music live that while other frontmen Mosh, wander the stage or simply do nothing, he’s air drumming along, all smiles and having the time of his life. The Larimer County Colorado natives are an Extreme Metal band playing Melodic Progressive Technical Death Metal in its finest form. “Apoptosis” or “the death of cells which occurs as a normal and controlled part of an organism’s growth or development” is their sixth studio recording.
Instrumental opening “Parthegoensis” is part Progressive, part Tech and all Metal. It’s the cinematic film score piece that accompanies and epic scene of adrenaline fueled action while having that melodic fast paced flamenco guitar flourish that adds a sense of drama. Keeping all the musical technicalities while bringing in those powerhouse vocals from the aforementioned Riley McShane “Interphase // Meiosis” brings that darkness to the mix with the vocals and pummelling drum performance. The bright and furiously frenetic guitar work could easily be the underpinning for some cleans but McShane’s offering is a lethal dose of American hatred. That’s evident further on “Extremophiles (B)” that sees blast beats joined by pig squealing growls. How drummer Brandon Park manages to keep up the sheer physical exertion of his material, is unknown with his work brining an energy and a volume of skill that should scare anyone thinking of learning the art, because it sets a next level standard. There is a clean vocal break showcasing another dimension of range but it’s short lived.
Brining thunderous grooves “The Secular Age” is an infectious work out for lead guitarist Greg Burgess, who puts in a virtuoso display throughout the album. It’s rhythm guitarist Michael Stancel who deserves plenty of credit for some big DJent leaning riffs and breaking up the leads with a chunky headbanging breakdown mid-song. “Exothermic Chemical Combustion” has a classic climbing riff from the Death Metal playbook with dark lyric and a relentlessness that just will not let go. The thing about Allegaeon is that they take their music seriously. Everything is so technically precise that not only is there no room for mistakes but they make other bands look lazy. “Extremophiles (A)” has a playful riff as well as starting a subscription with Synth Weekly. One of the shorter cuts on the album at just over 4 minutes is a fine introduction to the bands sound if you’ve not heard them before.
Leaping from a science fiction inspired electronic “Metaphobia” dives straight into breakneck Death Metal riffage of neck snappingly headbangable quality. That pacing gradually slows off from 10 to 8 via a couple of lead parts that give it a sense of sunlight briefly appearing through toxic black clouds. An epic introduction of orchestral music that sounds like it belongs on a cinematic score brings in a menacing groove riff to start “Tsunami and Submergence” off right. The surprise clean vocal verses gives the song a sense of vulnerability that isn’t apparent on the earlier material but adds a fitting change to the sonic attack. This one also features a couple of classic Metallica breakdown riffs as it closes, probably one of the last bands you’d expect them to be influenced by. Progressive and perhaps folk inspired “Colors of the Currents” sees Greg Burgess joined by Christina Sandsengen for a classical guitar composition of spellbinding quality. It is the counterpart to “Tsunami and Submergence” with the concept that the currents of life ebb and flow between them.
What is does is give a breather that allows epic first single “Stellar Tidal Disruption” the chance to steal the show. Which is exactly what it does with thunderous aplomb. Lyrically describing the process of a dying star and the creation of a new one it follows the themes of the album as a whole while delivering the sort of guitar work that Rings of Saturn get green eyed a out. Epically technical and relentlessly paced, it’s one that no doubt needs some serious warm up to play live. Closing on the title track is frowned upon in some quarters, but not by us. Bassist Brandon Michael’s bassline bleeds through the early mix before the guitars climb over a 10 minute tune of epic grandeur. The initial clean vocals give the start of the song a frailty that is soon swept away in the bludgeoning rhythm sections poundings. They return for a mid song musing before again making way for thunderous blast beats and a face melting solo. “Apoptosis” is Allegaeon in their finest hour [9/10]
2. Interphase // Meiosis
3. Extremophiles (B)
4. The Secular Age
5. Exothermic Chemical Combustion
6. Extremophiles (A)
8. Tsunami and Submergence
9. Colors of the Currents
10. Stellar Tidal Disruption
“Apoptosis” by Allegaeon is out now via Metal Blade Records and available over at bandcamp.