By: Wade Reitz
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Released on September 23, 2016 via Metal Blade Records
Everyone music fan has a band that they feel should have been bigger. For me it will always be King’s X. Maybe it was the decade they came out. They were much more sophisticated and soulful than the hair metal that dominated MTV, and didn’t quite look the part either. Regardless, they have persevered, and continue to release quality music. A more recent band that I have added to this list is Allegaeon. Founded in 2008, the Fort Collins, CO, tech-death metal band has been on my radar since their 2010 debut album Fragments of Form and Function. Their last album, Elements of the Infinite, was an epic concept album based on the Earth revolting against the human race. This time the band has again chosen a difficult subject to write about. Their latest album Proponent for Sentience, was released September 23rd, 2016 on Metal Blade Records.
Proponent for Sentience is about the concept of artificial intelligence, and how someday, machines will recognize the vastly negative impact of humanity, ultimately wiping us off the planet Terminator style. An ambitious undertaking to say the least, but one Allegaeon is fully capable of handling. Their previous albums may have had a pinch of black metal here and there, but Proponent for Sentience is all out Dimmu Borgir, minus Shagrath’s chainsaw vocals. The grandiose arrangements and powerful orchestral elements before the guitars, bass, and drums even kick in are an obvious nod.
Classical music scholar and founding guitarist Greg Burgess wrote the three parts of the title track – ‘The Conception’, ‘The Algorithm’, and ‘The Extermination’ as a sonata. This provides the overall framework for the album, binding the songs together on the record. However, Proponent for Sentience is more than this powerful trio of songs. ‘All Hail Science’ may be the band’s new anthem, with its chanting chorus and pit ready groove. Burgess flexes his classical muscles on the extended flamenco sections of ‘Grey Matter Mechanics – Appassionata Ex Machina’, showing that he can do more than shred.
New vocalist Riley McShane’s presence is felt throughout the album. Formerly of Sons of Aurelius, his amazing vocal range allows Allegaeon to add even more progressive elements to their music. Speaking of vocals, Soilwork singer Bjorn “Speed” Strid to lends his instantly recognizable vocals to ‘Proponent for Sentience – The Extermination’, along with a solo from ex-Bloodshot Dawn guitarist Benjamin Ellis.
If you Google technical death metal bands, Allegaeon is not even on the first page. Why they are not more popular is beyond me. Nevertheless, through multiple line up and management changes they have persevered. The band consciously never repeats themselves, always striving to progress their sound. By doing this, Allegaeon have consistently improved upon their music on each record, never being satisfied with their previous efforts. Proponent for Sentience is no different, finding this to be the best version and offering from Allegaeon yet.