22 September 2016

Review: Allagaeon – “Proponent for Sentience”

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allegaeon-proponent-for-sentience-3000x3000Since their first self-titled EP secured them a deal with Metal Blade Records in 2008, this Colorado technical death metal outfit has been writing killer music and managing to expand on an already winning formula.

Allageon were already on my radar with their 2010 release, “Fragments of Form and Function” and its seems that the band gets better with each album. Their 2014 release, “Elements of the Infinite” was already regarded as an underground favorite and expectations were rather high for its follow up. The announcement that the band was parting ways with long time vocalist Ezra Hayes came as somewhat of a shock and expectations for the most part were that the next album with new vocalist Riley McShane (Sons of Aurelius, Inanimate Existence, Continuum) might not be as good as the band will need some time to get its bearings.

Well, once again, Allagaeon stomped on the naysayers and delivered a killer CD. It seems as “Proponent for Sentience” is mostly likely their career-defining moment, as from now on this will be the album that they will have to top. It feels like this is their “Reign In Blood” so to speak…

_mg_1855-2The death metal outfit has managed to create a true masterpiece as this album surpasses all expectations in terms of performance and songwriting. It features immaculate crisp production thanks to Dave Otero (Cattle Decapitation, Cephalic Carnage), who has worked on every Allegaeon full-length except “Formshifter”.

The band’s insanely intricate virtuosity is apparent on every track. Greg Burgess and Michael Stancel deliver guitar chops that are brutal, complex and extremely tight. They not only manage to write killer music but also their leads are exemplary and don’t feel like a convoluted guitar exercise, but rather as a well composed enhancement to an already crushing performance. Corey Archuleta’s bass work holds the foundation well, locking in time with Brandon Park’s blistering skin barrage. Riley McShane’s guttural growls and mid range screams complement the music well. He (thankfully) even squeezes a short clean vocal on “Proponent For Sentience – The Extermination”, and judging from appearances he’s also managed to grow the mandatory beard.

Stylistically Allageon manages to carve its own niche, which is quite exemplary considering the vast majority of bands nowadays play it safe and copy an already established formula. If I am forced to compare them with someone, I’d say that Necrophagist and Arsis might be mentioned in one sentence as them.

“Proponent for Sentience” is in essence a concept album, straight out of a sci-fi novel that might be hinting to a movie that we might already know (spoiler alert: “Ahnold is in it”). The story follows humanity’s work on artificial intelligence and takes it from its conception to its future logical conclusion, which is basically that once a machine becomes truly sentient, the only logical outcome is that it wipes humanity in order to restore balance in the ecosystem. The lyrics, from what I could glimpse from a few internet sites that featured some of the song lyrics, are well written, with a high level of research and depth on the subject, so although the story might seem similar, the topic of AI is well presented and the lyrics are informative. The tracks follow the story line, with some amazing orchestral work and flamenco / classical guitar interludes.

I believe that this CD is meant to be listened in its entirety, as it works amazingly well as a whole. As far as recommended tracks go – if I am forced to pick, I’d go with “Gray Matter Mechanics – Appassonata Ex Machinea” due to the fact that it showcases the band’s skills at its fullest. This is one album that would be hard to beat, and it could be easily be the best metal album coming out this year!

Rating: 5/5

Standout tracks: the whole album in its entirety!





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