Three years ago I had a video recommended for me on Facebook. It was of a cover of the Rush classic “Subdivisions” but a band named Allegaeon. I’d never heard of them before, but it was a Rush cover, and a great song to boot. So I decided to check it out.
What I heard was a faithful cover, but not a copy, that sounded excellent. Suddenly I was intrigued. Who was this band? Apparently this single was being released in anticipation of an upcoming album. The title of the album was Proponent for Sentience. Ok, that’s cool too. A little more digging and I find out these guys are apparently a death metal band. So, now we have a death metal band covering Rush, and releasing an album about artificial intelligence. And then there was the back catalog. Songs like “Dyson Sphere”, “1.618” (that would be the numerical approximation of the golden ratio), and “The God Particle” demonstrated that these guys were also firmly rooted in and writing songs about science.
That freaking rules.
And I really fell in love with the band and their music. Seeing them live on the Proponent tour reinforced that they are amazing musicians, and super chill dudes. So I was all on board for their 2019 release Apoptosis (another scientific term).
What we have, then, is another slab of technical, progressive death metal, with scientific themes. If that doesn’t make this album stand out a bit, I just don’t know what will. The playing is excellent, as always. The songs are intricate, heavy, and progressive. But most importantly, and one of the thing that sets these guys apart from so much other “tech death” is the fact that they really focus on melody.
All of the songs are just that, songs. These aren’t just collections of riffs played as rapidly and ferociously as possible. Riley, the lead singer, can growl with the best of them, but also has a really nice, clean vocal when the song calls for it. Moments of classical, acoustic guitar are peppered throughout (with an entire interlude type track consisting of just that). These songs are musical. Still, the playing is extremely technical, but it doesn’t feel mechanical, automated. This is music written by and played by people who understand and love music.
I love me some tech death. But other times, you really want songs that center around melodies. And that is what sets Allegaeon apart for me. Overall, I do think I prefer Proponent for Sentience over Apoptosis. But that also could be due to the fact I’ve been jamming to Proponent for the past three years, and only have a few months with Apoptosis. Again, saw these guys live on this tour and the brought it. They play with energy, passion, and a love for the music. It translates through in the music. While still relatively young, their first EP dropped in 2008, Allegaeon have become one of my favorite bands, and Apoptosis is a worthy entry in their oeuvre.