If you were to say to me “melodic technical death metal”, I would say that there’s no part of that sentence I didn’t like, and that’s exactly how metal fans should feel about the debut full-length from Colorado’s Allegaeon, Fragments of Form and Function. To be fair, there’s not much left that can be done with this genre, and about the only thing one can hope for is that the music is well executed. Thankfully, Allegaeon does just that.
“The Cleansing” kicks off the album with a head fake, masquerading as a black metal song before the harmonized rhythm guitars come flying in. “Across The Folded Line” shows off drummer Jordan Belfast’s incredible chops, giving the song a tech-y Lamb Of God feel. “Biomech – Vals No. 666” channels a bit of Dragonforce’s rapid-fire harmonized lead work, then unexpectedly finishes with a gorgeous Baroque chamber arrangement. And the closer, “Accelerated Evolution,” allows dueling lead guitarists Ryan Gilsan and Greg Burgess to let their hair down further and just shred, Dream Theater-style, before ending in the most metal fashion possible.
Guitar pyrotechnics abound here, suitably supported by the metronomic percussion of Belfast. Indeed, the only grievance is the production. The guitars feature that ultra-smooth neoclassical lead tone that contrasts sharply with the raw power and brutality of the songs, and the drums occasionally suffer from the over-compressed “kick-drum-sounds-like-a-paper-bag” syndrome that plagues other tech-death outfits. The songs are well written and performed, but a broader soundscape could have put this album over the top.
Melodic tech-death isn’t for every metalhead, but if it’s something you’re looking to try out, Allegaeon has handed us a worthy addition to that catalog.