Allegaeon: Formshifter

Formshifter the new album from Colorado melodic death metallers Allegaeon is just one of those beasts that you can only be impressed by no matter which metallic flavour lines your heart most. It is quite simply a masterpiece of defence splitting aggression, mesmeric technical prowess, and blistering scorched melodies, that is not to mention the deeply manipulative grooves and tumultuous numbing riffage which drives each and every track. The album is immense, a ruthless incursion of ear and heart which leaves one in no doubt they have just experienced the mightiest and most invigorating storm.

    Formshifter is the follow up to 2010 debut album Fragments of Form and Function, an album that put them on the metal map with force. Formed in 2008 by founding member and guitarist Ryan Glisan and soon completed with the addition of classically trained guitarist Greg Burgess, vocalist Ezra Haynes, and bassist Corey Archuleta, Allegaeon (pronounced: uh-lee-juhn) drew attention with their four tracked self-titled EP of the same year. 2009 saw them sign with Metal Blade Records and the eventual release of their critically acclaimed first album the year after. Following up such an impressive introduction to the wider world is always testing but they make it look easy as they return with an album that puts even that mighty debut in the shade.

Recorded at Lambesis Studios with Daniel Castleman (As I Lay Dying, Impending Doom, Carnifex, Winds of Plague), Formshifter splatters the senses against the cranium from the start with not only brutal intensity and insatiable grooves but also from the sheer class of their melodic invention. It never leaves one alone for a moment persistently barracking, provoking and captivating. It retains the core sound that made its predecessor so dominant but brings a fuller depth and uses a wider palate to create with. The band adds in multi sourced flavours to their melodic death metal spine without diminishing the tight powerful structure and strengths that make them Allegaeon; in fact they have simply just made them even more formidable.

The opening melodic beckoning of first song Behold (God I Am) sets one up majestically for the soon to follow wall of destructive intensity, and riffs that cripple the senses within seconds. It is a rampant muscular assault that leaves no avenue twisted and escape route blocked with its mountainous intensity. With solos which leave flesh as cinders the track is a stunning start to the album and yet not even close to be the best track on the album.

The following Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst explores inner corners you did not know existed as its grooves search out every shadow for the stunning guitar invention to glow within. Not one for over blown guitar play or constant solos it is still impossible not to be blown away from the imaginative and glorious creations from Glisan and Burgess, the latter one of the finest guitarists around and with the discipline and skill to stay well away from indulgence.  Throughout the vocals of Haynes growl and crawl all over the emotions with authority, emotion and venomous spite veining every track with a harsh intensity.

Every song on the album is a ravenous predator upon the ear mauling with titanic riffs and melodic ingenuity that lights every pore. The likes of the unrelenting bruising Iconic Images, the viciously clawed The Azrael Trigger a track which twists and torments the senses until you have no idea what day it is, and the infection spewing From The Stars Death Came, all leave one a breathless husk as they devour every synapse and feeling.  It is with Twelve – Vals For The Legions though that the band ignites the most ravenous fire within.  It immediately consumes with a groove which tantalises and excites whilst wrapping it in a fury of rhythms and riffs to bring any stiff kneed recipient to the floor. Contagious and intimidating the song prowls the ear as the guitars eagerly offer a mesmeric sonic intrusion with a final captivation coming from the brief Latin classical guitar insertions which invite nothing but the deepest affection. As the track drops its final colossal note it transforms into a wonderful guitar instrumental, the classical heart and skill of Burgess irresistible, and though the piece feels unrelated to the song it aligns itself to it is a deeply satisfying moment on the album to match the song itself.

Formshifter is immense and Allegaeon a metal giant, the album is the proof so now is the time to go and be impressed.

RingMaster 16/05/2012

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Winds Of Plague – Against The World

Metal, deathcore, hardcore, death metal, L.A. Wind Of Plague court them all making exact labelling of the band’s sound impossible. Such difficulty is a sign of a band that is always thinking and looking for new ideas or random, often both as in the case of Wind Of Plague and their new album Against The World. On the album there is an eagerness to stretch and expand their music with often surprising and intriguing ideas and directions which for the main work impressively well. There is as expected still the power, defiance and in the face aggression that previous releases have gained acclaim for in abundance.

Against The World brings simple and devastating attacks flavoured and enhanced with some inspired keys from newest member Alana Potocnik, her skills obvious throughout, and the album is a riveting amalgam of sounds underneath the Wind Of Plague canopy of power. About the album vocalist Johnny Plague  has commented “We set out with producer Matt Hyde to raise the bar for Winds Of Plague both as a band and as musicians. We put a lot of our writing focus into the energy and the structure of the songs and everything else just seemed to fall into place naturally. We really just wanted to create a fun but heavy album. We still topped every song off with over the top epic orchestral arrangements, but we brought back the more hardcore, live show elements from ‘Decimate The Weak’. Unlike the previous release this record is not a concept album, which gave me freedom as a writer. Both fans of ‘Decimate The Weak’ and ‘The Great Stone War’ will be pleased for we haven’t altered the formula or strayed from our roots, but injected them with rage and fury. This record is beautiful, ignorant and heavy.”  

The album starts off with one of the best beginnings on any album this year so far. ‘Raise The Dead’ is a cinematic and atmospheric track that is long enough to be more than a mere intro though it sets up the tone and leads wonderfully straight into ‘One For The Butcher’. The haunting keys and disturbing child chants from the opener reappear in this second track, making a death/black metal flavour at its best creating not only good sounds but emotional  responses too.

Drop The Match’ and ‘Built for War’ step up next screaming at and bludgeoning the ear with a hardcore/ deathcore middle finger up assault. On the first the keys play elegantly behind the storming intense drum attack from Art Cruz and the pillaging throbbing bass of Andrew Glover. Vocally Plague delivers his growls and force with venom, as always you know what you will get with his vocals but they never from become stale at the same time. The second of the two songs rides in on some fine teasing symphonic keys whilst the metal urgency and direct strikes from the guitars of Nick Piunno and Nick Eash come striding through. There were moments  on the track that brought bands like Mudvayne and Children of Bodom  to mind all distilled in a neat blend of vintage Biohazard and Hatebreed.  ‘Built for War’ does feature gust vocals from Jamey Jasta so a clue maybe as to one of the spices to it.

 Jasta is one of a few guests on Against The World, which include Martin Stewart (Terror) and John Mishima (ex Blood Runs Black) on ‘California’, and also Mattie Montgomery (For Today) and Drew York (Stray From The Path) elsewhere. Also notable is the appearance of wrestling legend Ultimate Warrior on the brief ‘The Warrior Code’. Musically the Japanese sounding keys are great but overall with the vocal spoken narrative  from the wrestling icon it is debateable if it works and really was just a moment of self pleasuring by the band. Good to see the ring rope shaker is still alive at least.

Tracks such as ‘Refined In The Fire’, ‘Most Hated’, and California’ all satisfy immensely and the blend of hardcore devastating ferocity and flowing melodic keyboard pleasure from Potocnik make the album intently pleasurable and very repeatable. No, Winds Of Plague will not set new trends for others and lyrically they do not exactly write words to be devoured eagerly by scholars in decades to come, but they are what they are. A strong and powerful band that eagerly fills your ears and hearts with greats sounds.

http://www.myspace.com/windsofplague

RingMaster 25/07/2011

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