Allegaeon are back with their fourth album and only a single line-up change. Long-time vocalist Ezra Haynes has been replaced by Riley McShane and to be honest I wasn’t immediately convinced, especially when I noted he had taken over a fair bit of the lyric writing. Would he be able to hold his own? Would he keep the lyrics as interesting and intelligent as they were?
Well I’m rather happy to say that after repeated listens I’m more than satisfied and think the band definitely made the correct choice when snapping him up.
This is a science-fiction concept album but somehow the topics strike a little too close to the mark for it to not end up being science-fact in the all too near future.
The main theme is aired in 3 “sonatas” starting with the first song “Proponent for Sentience I – The Conception” with its extremely operatic opening before Brandon Park kicks in, bringing the rest of the band in a cymbal bash later with Riley immediately roaring away.
The opening riff of “All Hail Science” smacks of Exodus, but as soon as Riley’s guttural roar starts with Brandon blasting away, Greg Burgess and Michael Stancel’s guitar riffs change and become a hell of a lot faster and more aggressive but they still manage to keep their leads rather flamboyant. Additionally the chorus is a chant I’d quite happily get behind. Taking on a slightly raspier tone, the vocals for “From Nothing” are rapidly spat out ala black metal with leads being far simpler but making up for it by sheer speed of delivery.
The flamenco guitar on “Gray Matter Mechanics – Apassionata ex Machinea” is exquisite, even more so when combined with the distorted guitars, but it’s the leads on this 8 minute opus that are pretty breath-taking. The way the song ebbs and flows, building from near nothing to a cacophony and back without a single precise note sounding out of place makes it a work of art.
The trippier sounding guitars are battered into submission by the weight of the drums on “Of Mind and Matrix” forcing the riffs to keep changing with such alacrity it feels like they are never repeated but rather just flowing from one into the next with Corey Archuleta’s popping bass driving them all the way.
“Proponent for Sentience II – The Algorithm” marches along with a choral accompaniment that would give Dimmu Borgir and Septic Flesh pause for thought, along with the main vocals swapping between deep bassy roars to raspier ones all the while at a lumbering pace to go with the music.
What a great title “Demons of an Intricate Design” is, but more importantly the song is great too. The vocals are coming out at high speed over the drums while the guitars have a much slower feel to them, “Terrathaw and the Quake” on the other hand starts with a distinctly Arabian feel to the music, which rapidly is torn asunder once the drums work up a full head of steam.
“Cognitive Computations” starts of slowly but doesn’t remain that way for long, but around midway it slows down again allowing Riley to do some clean yet powerful vocals hitting notes and sustaining them with ease.
The choppy rhythm of “The Arbiters” gives the vocals a rather bouncy and punchy effect while the melodic leads played over both fast and mellow sections of song cut through with efficient clarity.
Guest guitarist Ben Ellis kicks off “Proponent for Sentience III – The Extermination” with an immediate solo while Soilwork’s Björn “Speed” Strid adds his vocals to Riley’s to give the song additional depth. The blasted triplets throughout the song sound like *machine gunfire* to bring home the extermination theme and ending of a great album.
Originally only going to be a bonus track but thankfully they decided to put it on the album as a final track the Rush cover “Subdivisions” is delivered with plenty of respect to the original with enough Allegaeon nuances to make it all their own. And if I wasn’t convinced by Riley by this point then this song would certainly have swayed me as soon as he opened his mouth.
And if you found all that interesting and actually want to give it a listen. Metal Blade have kindly posted the album online allowing you to do
(9/10 Marco Gaminara)