July 7, 2010

Music Review: Allegaeon - Fragments of Form and Function

Very interesting. Yes, simple way to start the review but it is accurate. When I saw the name Allegaeon (pronounced uh-lee-juhn), I was not sure what to expect. I see countless bands with hard to pronounce names with music to match. So many bands that have similarly brutal sounds that they start to blend into one another, much like the accompanying press releases, all which want to make them the next coming of death metal with their amazing new take on it. Many of them fail to stand out in a crowd. The same thing can be said about this Colorado act's release. However, I think they may actually have the goods, or at least a bunch of the pieces to build on.

Consider this from their release: "With a genre stuffed to the brim with countless copy cats and pretenders, Allegaeon have come to the table with a dynamic, memorable and focused take on extreme melodic metal. You’ll find just as many slow grooves and hook-laden riffs as you will blast beats. This is a band that focuses on song writing and less on making music into an athletic speed competition."

Interesting, is it not? Now, that really builds them up a little bit doesn't it? Of course, it is the publicist's job to get people excited for the music. Although, I do have to admit liking the bit about the focus on songwriting. There is nothing wrong with the occasional showboating song, but the focus has to be the song, that is what people will keep coming back for.

As I started listening to the opening track, "The Cleansing," I was not sure. Turns out I needn't be so immediately judgmental right off the bat (something I should have learned by now). The track turned out to be quite awesome and proved to be only the beginning of what is really a strong album.

Allegaeon has a death metal base but spreads out into technical metal areas that bring Nevermore-style riffs into close proximity to Gothenburg-style melodic death like In Flames. Through it all they have a straight ahead focus that is quite refreshing. They do have a striking focus on the song. There are speedy moments, slower riff grooves, and some great technical leads.

This is not a band that amps everything up into a metallic mush where you would need access to the original tapes in order to hear individual instruments. The production is crystal clear with everything coming through very nicely. Credit must be given to producer Dave Otero, who has worked with bands like fellow Colorado act Cephalic Carnage.

Leading the charge are the twin guitars of Ryan Gilsan and Greg Burgess. The latter of whom is a classically trained guitarist with a degree from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, he spent five years as the guitar instructor at the Music Institute of Lexington. Impressive. His experience paired with that of founding member Ryan Gilsan prove to be to the advantage of the band. They work exceptionally well together delivering some complex riffs, slow heavy riffs, as well as some blistering leads. I am impressed with the restraint shown I have to imagine there is always a desire to just cut loose with all that they have. They don't and the results could lead the way to a strong career laced with great music.

Behind the guitar excellence is as precise a drummer as I have heard for awhile. Jordan Belfast is quite blistering behind the kit. Sharp and crisp, his technique is solid. I love the sound, the snap of the snare, quick hit of the bass drum, the lingering splash of the cymbals.

I even like the vocals from Ezra Haynes. There are moments where they do not always seem to fit the tech style of the music, but he has the advantage of being able to be understood. It is a nice mix. I particularly like the catch groove on "The Renewal."

Bottomline. This is a solid album with some very good songs and a solidly delicious technical bent. I love the pace changes, the fast solos, the slower accentuated leads, the driving drums, heavy riffs, this is an all around excellent metal release. I will be sure to keep an eye on these guys going forward.

Highly Recommended.



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