REVIEW: ALLEGAEON – “Proponent For Sentience”
In metal, a terrible metaphor, ‘beauty and the beast metal’, is used to describe music that contrasts harmonious, soaring clean vocals with aggressive growls. The lack of imagination shows that it wouldn’t have taken a poet to come up with the metaphor, but it’s usually associated with gothic metal and rock. US metal band Allegaeon is gothic by no means, but musically they achieve a perfect balance between grace, melody, technicality and brutality with their latest album ‘Proponent for Sentience’.
In a metal scene where bands are getting faster, guitars have more strings, and drummers grow extra limbs, Allegaeon is having none of it. It’s not often that a band takes a step back from their heavier, more brutal roots and turns their music into something balanced. Sure, some bands have done it, but how often does it turn out well? Not often. Allegaeon showed everyone a middle finger, metaphorically of course, and went technical melodic death sandwich metal.
The band must admit to using eight-string guitars, and the new album is less intricate than their previous efforts, but this doesn’t mean the songs are easy to play. Michael Stancel can eat sandwiches while playing the solos, but the layman has to be satisfied with a good sandwich and shouldn’t attempt the scary things Stancel does on the fretboard. Also, Greg Burgess’ classical guitar pops up in songs like “Gray Matter Mechanics – Appassonata Ex Machinea” but everything gels well –the band has its winning formula already. “Of Mind and Matrix” is another memorable track.
Burgess’ unique solos are all over the record, and like Stancel, the two guitarists lay down heavy, crushing riffs that are followed immaculately by Brandon Park’s drumming. Park doesn’t overplay (Not overplaying on a death metal record? The blasphemy!), and it’s quite obvious why ‘Proponent for Sentience’ sounds so damn good –the rhythm section, with him and Corey Archuleta on the bass, is the unsung hero of Allegaeon’s sound. There are sections where the two indulge in shred-fests, like in “All Hail Science”, but everything is compact, well thought-out and intelligent.
The band also covered Rush’s “Subdivisions”, and it highlights the range that new vocalist Riley McShane brings to the band. Geddy Lee’s signature swagger isn’t easy to replicate, so McShane says screw it and the band goes with their own style. The result –a heavy but recognizable rendition of the iconic track, with clean singing, of course. His growled vocals are top notch as well, and the epic “Proponent for Sentience III – The Extermination” is a major highlight. The track features Soilwork vocalist Bjorn “Speed” Strid and a relatively new entry in the metal scene: the ultra-brutal Stephen Hawking. The latter’s speech in the song symbolizes the science-themed lyrics Allegaeon are known for, and combined with a very Lovecraftian album cover, the record succeeds in every aspect.
Well, almost every aspect. The only bad thing about the album is that Act Of Defiance & ex-Megadeth drummer Shawn Drover will still hate it 😉
Buy Allegaeon New Album Here: www.nervegas.com.au/allegaeon-