Keep a dictionary handy for this one. Time to bone up with Allegaeon’s newest release, Apoptosis. With this, his sophomore performance, Riley McShane solidifies himself as the band’s fully-capable, and versatile vocalist. The guitar licks on the fifth studio album from Allegaeon are fervent as ever, and we are treated to some excellent melodic passages that break up the intense, sonic assault of scientific jargon with sophistication—evidence of a consistently excellent band still at the top of their game.
2016’s Proponent for Sentience was not a fluke, and neither was the vocal performance of Riley McShane. McShane displays an impressive range—laying down brutal, but surprisingly intelligible death growls, as well as higher pitched screams and even some rather nice cleans on “Tsunami and Submergence,” and “Apoptosis.” After the release of Allegaeon’s outstanding cover of Rush’s “Subdivisions,” I fully expected some clean singing to land on a track list, and Allegaeon have utilized this part of McShane’s repertoire both sparingly and effectively.
As relentless as McShane is on some of these tracks, one cannot listen to Allegaeon without appreciating the immense skill Greg Burgess and Michael Stancel display on guitar. The riffs on this album are fresh as ever, and it’s evident how much fun the band is having throughout. Few bands can put up their guitar solos against those of Allegaeon, but even the foundational technical riffs are top caliber—never boring, always nod-inducing. Perhaps even more impressive are the acoustic interludes Burgess lays down. “Colors of the Currents” is on par with the memorable “Twelve-Vals for the Legions” off Formshifter.
The technical guitar and drum work make melodic sections like “Colors” so much more impactful. The best example, and perhaps the best song this band has ever recorded is “Stellar Tidal Disruption.” I can’t gush over this track enough. The melodic bridge four minutes in is one of the most inspired passages I’ve ever heard. It’s a surprising, but fitting, transition with gorgeous guitar tones atop blistering drums and the most booming death vocals McShane has yet to record. This, followed by even more excellent guitar solos and an epic chorus. It’s a masterpiece.
Perhaps the largest blemish of the album is that the rest of the tracks are not as potent as “Stellar Tidal Disruption.” There isn’t a bad song on Apoptosis, and many of the songs are laid out with care to elevate the album as a whole. However, “Stellar Tidal Disruption” is so good that it inevitably becomes the song you go back to in lieu of the others, which often blend together. It was smart to put it second to last—the perfect package tucked between the beautiful “Colors of the Currents” and the album’s concluding track, “Apoptosis.” If the band takes a page from Rivers of Nihil’s book and pushes their progressive sound going forward, crafting more tracks like this one, they really could be something special.
This is a band that often makes music for the sheer fun of it, as is clearly evident from earlier music videos. However, these guys have always shown a deftness for intelligent and innovative song writing, and Apoptosis feels that much more mature. The lyrics largely dabble in the scientific, as per usual, and can be hard to take seriously at times, but the melodies can not be dismissed as anything short of impressive. Apoptosis may be the finest album yet from one of melodic technical death metal’s finest acts. We’ve heard that Allegaeon have struggled to keep their projects funded—they’ve earned the price of admission with this one.
FAVORITE TRACK: “Stellar Tidal Disruption”
RELEASE DATE: 4/19/19
FOR FANS OF: Obscura, Beyond Creation