|Review: Allegaeon - Formshifter|
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 2012
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Review online: August 2, 2012
Reviewed by: Christopher Foley
Rated 4/5 (80%) (7 Votes)
The second full-length from US technical metallers Allegaeon plays as ear candy to those who enjoy this technical style of melodic death metal, and stands as kryptonite to those who can't stand it. The band's sound is an amalgamation of modern extreme metal conventions and similarities to Scar Symmetry, Arsis or the down-tuned chug of anything Jeff Loomis has touched in the last few years abound.
The performances are clearly good, but the music itself lacks any type of soul or substance. Production is clean as a whistle, and the album largely feels like nearly fifty-three minutes of showboating. The band likely conceived the material with thoughts along the lines of: "Let's make this part here sound like Meshuggah" or "This song only has one guitar solo, but our guitarists are really good, so we should throw a few more in for good measure; make sure there's a good solid block of sweep picking in for good measure too".
I'll be the first to admit I enjoy this style of music when done well, but Allegaeon don't really bring anything new to the table. They've picked their chosen delights from the smorgasbord of technical metal conventions, and they've arranged them into a package that is destined to do well amongst fans of this type of style. As such, anyone whose musical taste starts at Necrophagist and ends with Nevermore are going to love Formshifter. There are some good numbers like the Scar Symmetry-on-steroids approach of "Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst" or the blasting madness contained in "From the Stars Death Came" and those tracks would be good starting points for those curious.
For the most part though, Formshifter leaves me cold. The band throw a lot over to the listener, and it's pretty easily digestible; however just like after eating a Big Mac, I find myself staring at the dent in my wallet, still hungry and looking for the next meal. A solid purchase for fans of the style, especially those who crave flamboyant musicianship, but for anyone else this is a passing curiosity at best.
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