Allegaeon (pronounced: uh-lee-juhn) was formed in 2008 by founding member and guitar player Ryan Glisan. Soon thereafter joined the classically trained guitarist Greg Burgess, vocalist Ezra Haynes and bassist Corey Archuleta to round out and form what people have come to know now as the Colorado Kings of Melodic Metal. “Formshifter” is their sophomore follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2010 debut, “Fragments of Form and Function”.
Listening to this album several times there’s a key phrase rolling around my head that, while wordy is, I hope you’ll agree when you hear the album, apt. Firstly, the album is a stonker, that’s the simple part. More importantly it’s a stonker because it’s a controlled, aggressive, immaculately brutal, progressive melodic slice of death metal. There’s yer key phrase I’m talking about right there.
With each of the ten tracks you’ll find a driving, force majeure of an album that to me has far too many rip snorting riffs to pick as my favourite. The incredibly technically efficient and amazing musicianship on display throughout from guitars, to bass, to keys, to drums just makes me cry at my own limited ability at playing an instrument! Not only that, to top it all off Ezra Haynes vocals fit like a glove with the rest of the talent on display, being controlled and consistently aggressive throughout.
There’s a consistently high quality of song writing, lyricism and structure evident throughout the whole album from the opening epic of “Behold (God I Am)” into one of the absolute standout tracks, the wonderfully named “Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst”. There’s no chance to stop for breath as the album roars on through “A Path Disclosed” with its thunderous drive and intricate twin guitar work too.
I do, however, want to give a section of this review to one track in particular, “Twelve”. It’s an epic that outshines not just the first track, but all others by some distance to my ears. There’s tremendous contrasting shades that mesh together effortlessly throughout this track and just as you think it’s finishing off it stuns you about half way through with a beautiful acoustic piece that flows into some awesome flamenco styled acoustic wizardry. I have to say that it’s definitely one of the best tracks I have heard in a long time and one that is also likely to stick with me and in my mind.
It’s hard to follow a track like that, especially as you’re slap bang in the middle of the album, but after the beauty of the acoustic end to “twelve” Allegaeon remind you that blistering and brutal melody is what they do best and from “Iconic Images” through to the finish of the album with “Secrets of Sequence” they do just that. There’s some fantastic sweeps within “The Azrael Trigger” coupled with complex riffage, there’s brutality to the max with some insane blast beats conjuring up Cthulu-esque imagery in “From the Stars Death Came” while “Timeline Dissonance” is pounding, driving and complex in its approach. All of this is rounded off perfectly with the title track and fitting finale of “Secrets of Sequence” that has a wonderfully classical acoustic intro that confirms once again just how talented these guys are before it kicks in to what they do best while including some truly epic operatic styled runs.
I love being surprised by bands and albums and Allegaeon have most definitely done that with me on this one, so much so I think I’m off to hunt down their debut!
Formshifter will be released on May 8th via Metal Blade Records.
1. Behold (God I Am)
2. Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst
3. A Path Disclosed
5. Iconic Images
6. The Azrael Trigger
7. From the Stars Death Came
8. Timeline Dissonance
10. Secrets of the Sequence
Ezra Haynes – Vocals
Ryan Glisan – Guitar
Greg Burgess – Guitar
Corey Archuleta – Bass