Review Summary: Fragments of potential
I’m weak. There. I’ll admit it: I miss the days of technical death metal when things were kind of catchy, you know. I mean, I’m all for musical prowess and mind-bending solos - I was jamming that back then in the trenches of the Naughties and am doing so even today - but where has the structure gone? More specifically, where the hell are my melodies? Where has the 'cat
' to the 'ch
' to the 'y
' run off to, eh?
. Right. I’ve heard it before, far too often actually - but come on now: Up until Arsis’ second album, United In Regret
- err, that is, when things hit fast-forward into wanking territory from there on out – you enjoyed your fair share of the who-gives-a-damn-about-songwriting Epitaph
and the good-natured appeal of your Defiant Imagination
, right? Oh yes, you
had a soft point once in your path to metal elitism, however short. Don’t you ever, once in a blue moon at least, miss those car rides with A Celebration of Guilt
blaring through your speakers? Hmmm?
Thought so. Despite its flaws, here’s your entrance to nostalgia, my friend: Allegaeon’s Fragments of Form and Function
. That’s right, this album brings in the memories of songs premised on melody, vocal and guitar in nature, and, hey, all without the technical aspect of the band’s music being castrated in the process. Sounds like it’s all plagiarized from like ten years ago, right? Well, it actually is
, when it comes down to it, so much so that this Colorado quintet’s faults make themselves evident only three tracks in thanks to comparisons that will inevitably, by default, pop into your head.
To start, while Ezra Haynes is a strong vocalist – think Mikael Stanne sped up with the likes of James Malone – the melodies he puts to use over the band’s admittedly great performance of cycling leads, catchy solos, and apt drumming sound painfully generic, quite close to watered-down variations from the anthems of Guilt
. Take for instance Fragments
’ most commercial cut, “A Cosmic Question”: The chorus comes in over a tripping guitar riff from Ryan Glisan and Greg Burgess, with Haynes pulling a generic rolling delivery of “What lies beyond what we see?
” In practice, it sound like something pulled straight from Arsis' or Mors Principium Est’s playing books, sadly. And unfortunately, you'll find that this type of borrowing is pulled on a lot of Fragments
And then there’s that album art, which hints at the lyrical themes of Fragments
. Right, it’s hard to take these guys seriously sometimes to be honest, to the point where it distracts from the music. I’m for the sciences and think things like stemcell research are interesting, but in the tech-death setting the topics sound very out of place - or at least aren’t implemented into the music well enough to not sound so forced and contrived. If anything, themes such as pharmaceutical structures actually hurt the recycled melodies of the album even further
, and also add this annoying bit of unintentional comedy to whatever Allegaeon set out to do.
This is unfortunate, as what Allegaeon do right is what the tech-death genre needs more of these days. Too often have the same albums been made over and over again with a lack of structure and cohesion. Fragments
is the sound of a band that is able
to change this - but they obviously have some things to work on before they do. The melodies of the album sound recycled from the bands that first did the melodic tech-death metal thing, and the lyrics are often too laughable to take seriously. That said, Allegaeon’s balance of melody to technical playing is spot on, though, as they really don’t have to sacrifice much to make songs that bring it hard and fast, with a sing-song-y quality to them. In this way Fragments of Form and Function
ironically plays out to its name, as the band have it in them to do some great things, but as of now Allegaeon just don't have it all together in the right order.