Album: Proponent For Sentience (“sen-chence”)
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: Friday, September 23rd, 2016
By Stephen Kruczyk
As if their name doesn’t create enough pronunciation issues between metal heads trying to spread the good word of their music, Allegaeon‘s fourth studio album Proponent For Sentience is another wrench in the circuitry. If their latest effort via Metal Blade Records is a “do-or-die” type of album in a band’s career, Proponent for Sentience further cements their place in the modern metal realm as they expand upon their signature technical precision, catchy gang-vocal-style choruses and overall damn good musicianship. While the first half of the album reinforces these familiar aspects and ensures longtime fans can put their apprehensions about new vocalist Riley McShane (Inaminate Existence) to bed, the second half begins to tap into an even more progressive direction of the Fort Collins, Colorado quintet moving forward. Familiar underlying elements such as classical guitar licks and groovy drum patterns have joined forces with orchestral pieces and impressive song structures to form an incredibly enjoyable listening experience for both new and old fans alike.
Personally, I’ve been a fan of Allegaeon when the band messaged me on Myspace (remember when?) in 2008 while promoting their 4-song sefl-titled EP. From the first time I listened to those songs, I could tell that the band was going to take off and eventually sign with a big label. They just had this tightness to their sound, musical chemistry if you will, that reminded of a few other metal bands like Arsis and The Absence whose songs got stuck in your head until you had to put in the album back into your car stereo for one more spin. Eight years later, and Proponent For Sentience is the latest release of theirs to confirm my premonitions. Since Damnation Magazine acquired the new album about two weeks ago, I’ve probably listened to it all the way through about 20 times or so. I’ll probably listen to it again after I finish writing this review, because instead of regressing as they evolve their sound and transition from past members to the present they’ve solidified the role they played in helping me through several shaky years of my early-to-mid twenties. Oh, and it’s just a blast to listen as well.
The album starts off with “Proponent For Sentience I – The Conception” and it takes you on a ride – literally, it sounds as if you’re waiting to ride the Batman at Six Flags – that flows into a Fleshgod Apocalypse-esque build-up before their signature sound filters in throughout the rest of the 6+ minutes. The band keeps the pedal to the metal in the next track “All Hail Science” with a blackened death metal style song with neck-crushing time changes and even that particular guitar chord “twang” that you’d hear in your favorite Behemoth song. Tracks 3-6 offer intricate bass lines and guitar riffs from Corey Archuleta and Greg Burgess while the newer members keep up the pace right alongside them. Generally speaking, this album should sound like another Allegaeon album. Two of these “newer members”, Michael Stancel (guitar) and Brandon Park (drums), were key contributors on Elements of the Infinite (2014). Meanwhile, the truly new addition, vocalist Riley McShane, holds his own on the first half of the album and then breaks loose on the second half.
Tracks 7-11 on the album showcase the new approach and style that McShane brings to the table from his previous work with Inaminate Existence, and provides possible insight into the future of Allegaeon. The impressive vocal pattern forming the chorus of “Cognitive Computations” has a unique flow to it that dares to expand upon the basic choral composition that harsh vocals in modern metal have set forth as the norm, while incorporating clean vocals – for the first time – seamlessly into the bridge of the song as if Allegaeon has been there/done that before. The final track, “Proponent for Sentience III – The Extermination” brings on vibes of Scar Symmetry’s dual vocal attack, except Riley McShane is doing the singing and shows off his ability to nail both sides of the spectrum. Some may complain about the clean singing, but it seems to fit each song just right, without being overdone.
While finishing up this review, the first single from the album, “Gray Matter Mechanics” started playing on Music Choice‘s \m/etal station, so naturally I had to crank up volume and rock out for a few minutes. Overall, this album is my favorite of 2016 thus far. There are so many different styles of rock AND metal on this one album. As a result, it has a lot of to offer veteran listeners and newcomers alike. There are hints of chaotic technical brutality among the likes of Behemoth and Fleshgod Apocalypse alongside refreshing classical guitar licks that makes you want to turn on some Rodrigo y Gabriela. Hell, they even put together a quite unique rendition of “Subdivisions” by Rush as the last song on the album to cover all of their bases. Do yourself a favor: buy this album and play it loudly. Repeat until neck detaches from torso…
Check out Allegaeon in a town near you this November/December on the “Winter Warriors Tour” alongside Battlecross and Necromancing the Stone!!!