The sophomore release, Formshifter, from Allegaeon refines and polishes what they had established with their debut on Fragments of Form and Function – tight, technical, groove and hook-laden riffs with catchy choruses and blazing shredding all along the fretboard and deep, commanding death growls. Unlike a lot of other technical death metal bands, that like to eschew the traditional song structure, Allegaeon embraces a more metal traditional verse-solo-chorus-verse-solo-solo song structure on this album. They manage to pack a white dwarf star’s worth of riffs and solos across ten tracks that can leave you exhausted from the sheer brutality and virtuosity that is happening on the album.

The first track, “Behold (God I Am)” starts off with a calm and relaxed clean guitar and bass part with a slow melodic lead before punching you in the face with some Fleshgod Apocalypse-inspired riffing and drumming –from session drummer JP Andrade. Granted there is no bombastic use of orchestral samples, yet Allegaeon makes up for it with meretricious leads that would be welcomed on an Arsis album. The dual guitars of Ryan Glisan and Greg Burgess keep the pace with some groove-Psycroptic style riffs throughout the verses. The song takes a little detour near the end with a fist-pumping, gang-chanted anthem that is closed out by a fading melody.

The riffs just keep on coming with “The Azrael Trigger”, “Timeline Dissonance”, “From the Stars Come Death”, and “Iconic Images” which has a fantastic Nevermore-inspired main riff, and a blazing scalar lead before going into the verse. The chorus is filled with a sick descending lead riff against a catchy chorus from Ezra Haynes. An old-school death metal breakdown slams through the song before going into more blazing leads and reprising the chorus. “Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst” jumps right out of the gate with a driving, groove-pummeling riff that is backed by a deliciously sweep picked melody during the verse. This song – pretty much all of the songs really – is drenched with more liquid smooth leads. Haynes belts out a solid and memorable account of the mythical city Atlantis during the chorus. Even though “Tartessos” clocks in at less than five minutes and has some fantastic moments, the song quickly makes itself repetitious with the constant florid soloing.

This is especially apparent on “Twelve – Vals for the Legions”, which dishes out more groove-technical riffs that serve as the backbone for the soaring, melodic, virtuosic leads. This seven minute epic does overstay its welcome somewhat within a few minutes, however, it is broken up with a breakdown backed by Spanish-style, finger-picked acoustic guitars (which is honestly something I’ve never heard before and it does sound pretty awesome), from classically trained guitarist Burgess. The acoustic guitars make an unexpected, although quite welcomed reprise after more sensational leads to close out the remainder three minutes of the song.

The beautiful classical inspired acoustic break would have done well as a standalone track, especially given that the metal just stops to let this piece shine through. This type of experimentation is sprinkled throughout the album, such as the progressive – almost Human Abstract-style intro to “A Path Disclosed”; the short dirty motif mixed in with the slam-breakdown toward the end of the title track, and an acoustic intro and a cool little bass break (courtesy of Corey Archuleta) about three and a half minutes in the final track, “Secrets of the Sequence”. I love brutal, intense music but it does fatigue the ears and mind when being assaulted by it constantly will little else to break it up; it should be more of a short, intense pummeling rather than a drawn out exercise on a speed bag.

Despite some of the repetitious nature of Formshifter, this is an album that stands strong with the rest of the technical death metal giants like Obscura, Nile, Dying Fetus, The Faceless, and Gorod. Anyone looking for solid technical death metal but would like a little bit more groove, a little bit more of sing-along-growled choruses, and a lot of groove-technical riffs and an insane amount of soloing; then you can do no wrong with Allegaeon’s new album.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Travis Bolek
June 18th, 2012


  1. Commented by: Guilliame
  2. Commented by: Gabaghoul

    Yeah this is badass so far – how have I missed these guys til now?

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