Album Review: ALLEGAEON Elements of the Infinite
It's weird to think that it has already been four years since I just happened to download Allegaeon's first album Fragments of Form and Function for my college radio station. They were exactly what a picky metal fuck like me needed at the time. They were atypical melodic death metal that could fly that flag without being another In Flames copy. Their second record, Formshifter, was good, but there wasn't really a special something to hold my interest. Now, on their third record, the band has begun stretching their wings more.
Elements of the Infinite has the band presenting growth, albeit subtly for most of it. Large sections of the album could have fallen in with Formshifter. However, with each listen I was able to find more and more I enjoyed in ways I simply didn't last round.
"Through Ages of Ice – Otzi's Curse" takes metal conventions and shakes the listener's expectations. Many bands fall into some musical progression patterns, and Allegaeon toe the same line, then drastically turn away. It's almost as if the band is aware of where the audience thinks they'll go next, and purposely strays from the obvious. I can give the album opener "Threshold of Perception" similar praise. This song is an epic ride and the perfect (re)introduction to this force of a band.
While I know the band has done this to a degree before, their way of emphasizing guitar solos through atypical rhythmic backing really grabbed my attention this time. As the solo soars, the rest of the band converges into a pocket filled with synchronized stutters, odd mood jumps and more. The guitar wankery that I am so often drawn to takes a backseat to awesome choices by the song itself, which often functions simply as a bed. My favorite example of this would be in "Biomech II."
The album's final track, "Genocide for Praise – Vals for the Vitruvian Man," may be the band's single greatest song they've done. This song is nearly thirteen minutes that I never want to end. The band is at they most technical, their most melodic, their most chaotic, their most Allegaeon on this song. This is what "White Walls" is to Between the Buried and Me.This is their game changing song that they should end every show with.
Initially I found myself only coming back to these few aforementioned songs, until I happened to leave the album going after relisten of "Threshold" and "Tyrants of the Terrestrial Exodus" made me realize some of the songs need a second chance. I've heard several songs by other bands start as "Tyrants" does, and checked out the first time. As I reheard the song, I found myself hearing underlying atmosphere and just how tight this band really is. This isn't exactly a favorite of mine on the record, but I was able to hear potential.
Much of the album sounds like a band in a grove trying to fight their way out of it. I wasn't overly impressed with either of the first two tastes of the album. "Dyson Sphere" is cool, but I heard Soilwork do a pretty great version of this last year on The Living Infinite, mind you with more singalongs. I could say the same for "1.618." This is also a really good song (with an amazing music video), but it is certainly a single track, were this to be a mainstream album it would be the one your couldn't escape. I'd say about half of the record is more of the same, but when they do present their efforts to shake things up, they shatter the mold that they've created for themselves.
When the band is trying new things, I cannot praise this record enough. What isn't new, isn't bad by any means either. This band is great and has never dipped in quality. It's just that the new shit propels this record, and makes it their best yet.
Elements of the Infinite is out June 23rd via Metal Blade Records.