Sooooooo, a little over two years since the last album Elements of the Infinite, the boys from ALLEGAEON are back with their new one Proponent For Sentience, available now via Metal Blade Records. This is their first offering with vocalist Riley McShane, who comes in and absolutely nails his parts. In addition, he also jumped right into the science-based lyrical concepts of the band, and wrote them in that vein. I know, new guy writing the lyrics? ‘Da FUCK?? But hey man, it works, believe me! Axe-shredders Greg Burgess and Michael Stancel, bassist Corey Archuleta, and drummer Brandon Park provide the music that helps to tell the story of the album, and when everything comes together it sounds glorious.
The disc is also a concept album. “With this record we’re bringing ideas to the table that corroborate the fact that at this juncture, robotics as a field is moving forward at an alarming rate,” explains McShane. “This story is dotted with examples of real-life scientific advancements, and it is also perforated with details of humanity’s flaws.” Now, I’ve said it before, I am WAY too stupid to get any of the science stuff. I just think this band has a sound all their own, and their brand of Death Metal is head and shoulders above many others in the genre. So, to avoid me sounding stupid, let’s just focus on what I dug about this disc. Sound cool? OK.
“All Hail Science” is one of the album’s best cuts, and not just because it’s something the guys in the group say often. The riffs laid down by Burgess and Stancel are razor-sharp, yes, but Park’s drumming is absolutely off the charts on this one, making it his song. “From Nothing” finds the whole band firing on full auto and taking no prisoners, while “Of Mind and Matrix” is not quite as bombastic or in-your-face at the start. Oh sure, it takes off like a rocket ship, but it doesn’t happen right away. “Gray Matter Mechanics – Appassonata Ex Machinea” is eight minutes and change of madness, then “Demons of An Intricate Design” just grinds you into powder. This was one of my favorites, by the way.
“Terrathaw and the Quake” opens with some Middle Eastern style chanting before one of the most addictive guitar melodies I’ve heard in awhile comes in and wrecks shop. The programming behind the riffs only adds to the feel of the song. The deliberate tone and jackhammer beat of “Cognitive Computations” only adds to its power, and “The Arbiters” is a romper stomper from start to finish, with McShane really outdoing himself. What a kickass tune! Initially I wasn’t sure what to make of the first part of the three-song trilogy on this record, “Proponent For Sentience I – The Conception”, but it’s definitely a great way to kick the album off.
Continuing in this vein, “Proponent For Sentience II – The Algorithm” has the same grandiose opening as its precursor, and it’s another eight minute epic. “Proponent For Sentience III – The Extermination” is like the clouds have parted and there is metal in the streets. Riley McShane sounds his absolute best on this number for sure. Closing the disc is a cover of RUSH’S “Subdivisions”, which at first glance made me say, “Whoa! What the fuck you doing?”, but after a listen or two I kinda dug it. Will it even come close to the original? Fuck, no!! Nothing will. But I have to applaud ALLEGAEON for doing something so big and ambitious, with no fucks given. Plus, Riley sounds excellent on this one.
At the end of the day Proponents For Sentience is a great record from a band that used to fly under the radar. Dave Otero’s production is goddamn fantastic, and I don’t think “under the radar” will be the case anymore. ALLEGAEON is poised for bigger and better things in 2016 and beyond, and I could not be happier for them. Pick up your copy of this record today and see what it is I’m on about. Oh, and ALL HAIL SCIENCE!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “All Hail Science”, “Demons of An Intricate Design”, “The Arbiters”, “From Nothing”, “Proponent For Sentience III – The Extermination”, “Terrathaw and the Quake”