Elements Of The Infinite
24th June 2014 – Metal Blade Records
01. Threshold of Perception
02. Tyrants of the Terrestrial Exodus
03. Dyson Sphere
04. The Phylogenesis Stretch
06. Gravimetric Time Dilation
07. Our Cosmic Casket
08. Biomech II
09. Through Ages of Ice – Otzi’s Curse
10. Genocide for Praise – Vals for the Vitruvian Man
Allegaeon; Colorado’s answer to Scar Symmetry, minus the catchy pop choruses. “But Scar Symmetry is all about the pop choruses!” I hear you cry, furiously. “Without the pop choruses, what does that leave us with?”. I’ll tell you what – it leaves us with fucking riffs. Riffs upon riffs. Imagine for a second that this is a cooking show.
Hi. I am Chef Ell. Welcome to the Catastrophic Cookery, coming live from Monolith TV (praise be to the Monolithic overlords). Today we are making Allegaeon, with a side of more INTENSE RIFFERY. The first thing we have to do is THROW EVERYTHING THE FUCK OUT, we only need one ingredient. Riffs.
1. An industrial sized bag of fresh fucking riffs.
2. Set oven to 6 billion degrees fahrenheit.
3. Throw your grandmother in (this isn’t part of the recipe, it’s just for fun).
4. Slice roughly a fuck ton of riffs, edgeways, making sure not to cut your precious little fingers because THESE RIFFS SHRED.
5. Get a big ass tube of pureed riffs.
6. Stick them all in a fuckin’ bowl and mix the fuck out of ‘em.
7. Punch a child in the kidneys.
8. Put the bowl in the fucking oven. It doesn’t really matter, everything is going to catch fire anyway.
9. Masturbate furiously as the building is engulfed in an inferno.
10. Praise Satan.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully concocted Allegaeon’s new album Elements Of The Infinite. Gordon Ramsay can suck my dick.
But seriously, this album. It opens with some creepy as acoustic guitars, complete with some creepy chick making “aaaah” noises in the background. The strings and horns kick in and you know shit’s about to kick off, and kick off it does; here are the riffs I was telling you about.
“Threshold of Perception” is a great introductory track. The build up isn’t too long and it pays off instantly. Before long we’re knee deep in classic melodic death metal riffery, with more than a fair share of tech. The vocals aren’t guttural growls, nor are they screeching banshee-shrieks – they’re more along the lines of Dååth-style mid-screams. The atmosphere is one of a mechanically induced armageddon; the soundtrack to a Skynet takeover.
Elements Of The Infinite is very heavily guitar-orientated – there is never a long pause between a powerful riff or a savage solo. There are widdlies and sweeps aplenty; something that any tech fan can get behind. It is melodic death metal, but there is a lot of emphasis on the death metal aspect: blastbeats, vicious chugging and sprawling riffs. Riffs. I’ll count up how many times I say “riffs” at the end of the article. Now, while the metal is most definitely death, there is still a large portion of melody involved. It’s mostly in the form of guitar harmonies, atmospheric keys or orchestral backing, rather than clean vocal choruses. It is because of this that the band seem like a mixture of Dark Tranquility and Scar Symmetry, rather than a band in the strain of Soilwork or the other Gothenburg melodeath bands.
The solos. Holy shit, the solos. They manage to be both melodic and shredalicious at the same time; a feat which is highly underrated in the tech-minded. It keeps you from being riddled with riff-holes and becoming the victim of an onslaught of random notes. Greg Burgess and Michael Stancel certainly subscribe to the Per Nilsson school of lead guitar.
Standing back from the leadwork, the rhythm guitars are pristine too. Songs like the “The Phylogenesis Stretch” and “1.618” just hammer these riffs out. It’s moments like these that show the band have pure headbang moments as well as pure air guitar moments. These riffs are complemented by an outstanding rhythm section. The basswork is spot-on, matching the technicality of the guitars and providing a baseline (or bassline…) that goes beyond being a simple foundation. The drums are equally impressive, putting on fantastic displays of technicality and power.
“Genocide for Praise – Vals for the Vitruvian Man“, the 12-minute epic conclusion to the album, is definitely one of the highlights, along with “1.618” and “Biomech II“.
The production is crystal clear; nothing is buried in the mix. Every single note rings true, as if you were right there. A powerful drum sound is a difficult thing to master, but this album succeeded in just making the drums sound HUGE. The vocals are crisp and loud, giving them the ferocity needed to sail over the riff-orgy beneath them.
Not that EotI doesn’t have its shortcomings: if you aren’t a fan of technically-minded music, then perhaps this is not your cup of tea. Like I mentioned earlier, the guitar work is at the forefront of this album, and in this respect it can appear like the album is lacking in some other aspects. For example, it can seem very samey after a while. If you aren’t into this sort of thing, it can seem like someone is trying to see how many times they can fit a widdly-widdly in one song, while occasionally breaking it up with a chug-chug or two. The songs can also blend together in a similar fashion – even I, having listened to the album over fifteen times now since its release, spent the good part of twenty minutes skipping through the tracks to find that one fucking solo that I wanted to hear. Was it in this one? Shit, no it’s not this one. What about this one? FUCK. There it is! No wait, that’s not it…
One of the main qualms I have heard people mention is the vocals. A few friends, as well as other reviewers, have mentioned that the vocals suffer from being a bit too monotonal. Others argue that they don’t really stand out enough in comparison with the utterly stellar instrumental work. I agree with this in some respects, while not in others; the vocals are not bad in any way, however I would argue that they don’t have the versatility seen in the guitarwork and instrumentals. The brutal death metal fan in me wishes Ezra Haynes would focus more on the deep growls, as I fucking love those.
This album is pretty damn good. It ticks all the boxes needed for a brilliant melodic death metal record, and more. The riffs are of an inspirational level and the songwriting borders on mythical proportions. It is certainly a contender for some years-end lists. This album is a step up from their already brilliant previous release, Formshifter. I really hope to hear more from these guys and here’s to an even better next release! Also: riffs.
(The word “riff” or a variation of the word riff was mentioned 22 times in this article – and that’s still less than the amount of genius riffs in this album. Oh, that brings it up to 23.)