Fragments Of Form And Function
posted on 9/2010 By:
Ah, the time-honored tradition of mimicry. Countless bands forge a decent career despite much of their sound being a carbon copy of former heroes. Pencil in Allegaeon as a possible addition to this list. Their form of death metal--that which straddles the melodic and technical lines--is ever-so-(sarcasm)-slightly popular right now. (Cue Mel Brooks holding Space Balls: the Flamethrower and saying “The kids love this one.”) And although debut Fragments of Form and Function may not reach the same heights as the albums which served as its muse, it contains more than enough mettle in its metal for these Coloradoans to perch themselves securely on the second tier.
Allegaeon’s approach is contemporary to say the least: oft-grooving and intricate rhythm guitars, choreographed and nearly neoclassical twin lead dancing, cardiovascular-challenged drumwork and articulate harsh vocals. They are a musical hybrid of Arsis, Anata, Necrophagist and even Dark Tranquillity, a balancing act between creativity and emulation. There is a very good chance that the imitation bug will bite at you while spinning the album, but the prime-grade riffage that the band brings to the table may be just the medicine to cure that itch, depending on your perspective.
And right there is the dilemma of Fragments of Form and Function. It is perfectly acceptable and even quite thrilling at times if one hasn’t already worn out the aforementioned acts, but for those who have, the album may be automatically relegated as a shining footnote. For example, the chorus of “A Cosmic Question” is one of many moments that sounds directly lifted from the We Are the Nightmare sessions; well-written but potentially tiring for genre veterans.
The band’s saving grace is undoubtedly the duo of guitarists Ryan Glisan and Greg Burgess, who have overloaded the album with wildly-entertaining axerobatics by channeling the likes of James Malone and Muhammed Suicmez. They are at their best on finale “Accelerated Evolution,” an eight-minute near-epic that runs the full gamut through the influences mentioned above with some of the best riffs and certainly the most accomplished song progression on the album. It is also proof that they may find their best future success in instrumentally-heavy progressive songs. The fact that capable-but-limited vocalist Ezra Haynes is the band’s one possible weak link only furthers this impression.
To use the Iron Chef scoring approach, Fragments of Form and Function scores great on taste, slightly less on plating design (that cymbal sound is questionable at best), and a bit less still in its originality using today’s secret ingredient. Allegaeon thusly falls short of beating out the Iron Chefs in this melo-tech battle royale. But in spite of nearly every aspect of the album bringing with it a touch of déjà vu, the band knows how to construct an engaging song and an even better riff, and their music will appeal greatly to any fans who get aroused by that style of cover art. Simply put: this is modern metal written by modern metal musicians for modern metal fans.
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