Allegaeon – Formshifter


Review by Jason Guest

Allegaeon’s 2010 first full length, Fragments Of Form And Function, served as a demonstration of the band’s ability to weave complex song structures with technical proficiency into excellent songs. Their high level of musicianship was matched by the sheer force and ruthless brutality that pervaded an album of huge grooves, hook-laden riffs, and thought-provoking lyrics. Album number two, Formshifter, is bigger and better, retaining their ability to balance their musical and technical skills.

Where Fragments Of Form And Function took scientific development in such areas as evolution and stem cell research for its lyrical themes, for Formshifter, Ezra Haynes has broadened his scope to tackle such subjects as an imbalanced judicial system, controlled media, space, philosophy, and Atlantis. His vocals match the intensity of the lyrical themes, as does the musicianship across the album. Session drummer JP Andrade sounds like he’s been in the band since day one and whoever it is that will be the full-time skin smasher certainly has their work cut out (at the time of writing, Allegaeon are searching for a drummer). The skill and technique of the guitarists has clearly evolved; the lead work is enthralling, the riffs are more developed and complex and they manage to maintain that capacity for groove displayed on Fragments… Of particular note is the three minute Spanish guitar section that closes ‘Iconic Images’. It may be a little self-indulgent, even gratuitous, but astounding nonetheless.

Frustratingly though, as with most albums of this kind the bass remains almost unnoticeable save for the odd occasion where Archuleta takes a break from matching the guitar riffs and makes his voice heard. It’s these moments that indicate that Archuleta has a lot to offer and were Allegaeon to exploit his abilities, it may be what shifts this band further into their own for album number three and secures this band a position on the frontline. But minor flaws aside, the production and precision musicianship are balanced with slick song-writing, ridiculous riffage, and more savage hooks than a serial killer’s basement. Where their eponymous 2008 debut EP secured them a deal with Metal Blade Records, and Fragments Of Form And Function established them as respected tech/melodic death metal band, Formshifter takes Allegaeon up a notch and deserves to bring them a much wider fan-base. Phenomenal.

8 out of 10

Track Listing:

  1. Behold (God I Am)
  2. Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst
  3. A Path Disclosed
  4. Iconic Images
  5. Twelve
  6. The Azrael Trigger
  7. From the Stars Death Came
  8. Timeline Dissonance
  9. Formshifter
  10. Secrets of the Sequence