Review Summary: Technically impressive. Technically boring.
Here’s an interesting tidbit about me, there are, in fact, no interesting tidbits about me. I’d even go so far as to question any interesting tidbits about anyone, because, what the hell is a tidbit? I mean it’s definition is literally anything
, but I digress. In regards to me and my tidbit-less life, in which I spend countless hours listening to music, x-ing out days on my calendar ‘til The Dark Knight Rises is physically mine
, and drinking exactly eight ¾ cups of water a day, I’m baffled as to how I can’t find the time to listen to Allegaeon’s sophomore release Formshifter
in full, since, according to my calculations, I only listen to music and pee all day. And, yet, for weeks on end I found myself subconsciously cutting Formshifter
short around track four and listening to something else - for better or worse. Coincidentally, this may define something interesting in me because this is not the first time I’ve noticed this phenomenon. And I think I know why. While technically impressive, Formshifter
is short and simply, boring.
I’d like to start off by expressing how heated I am by this epiphany, because, dammi
t, I love being right, and at this stage of my life I feel like it’s just me wishing the Gothenburg scene would resuscitate somefucking
how, leading to me standing high atop some masculine pillar and screaming to the world “I told you so.” This won’t be happening anytime soon. While Formshifter
kicks off to a raucous start, it’s only takes a matter of minutes to uncover anything worthwhile hidden within; not completely unlike my life. Leads flutter and expand into furious breakdowns that bare obvious resemblances to each other. The drumming is above par for the course, but sound barren and too processed to make a true presence to the overall sound Allegaeon are gunning for. And then there are the vocals, but more on that later. What we have with Formshifter
is the best Dark Tranquility
tribute album since Fiction
Between “Behold [God I Am]” and “Iconic Images” Allegaeon create the best quadruplet since the invention of the word quadruplet, probably (source needed), and it’s a fitting way to kick-off what the band declares is, “their most ambitious release to date”. Aside from them having only two albums, this included, I would agree with this claim. There’s a subtle thrash fever here underneath all the melodic death metal and it presents a nice urgency to these otherwise ‘heard-before-somewhere-in-my-life’ tracks. What ups the ante even more is the technicality glowing from each member of the band. “Tartessos”, for example, is a masterful display of melody mixed with uncompromising chugging and tempo shifts on the drop of a half
-dime (ha!). Easily the standout “Tartessos” molds everything that should
have occured on this album, and continuing the trend follow-up “A Path Disclosed” opens with a smooth lick that builds into ever cascading leads for a finale that hammers (literally) home. Unfortunately, the praises are few and far between amongst those easily discernable moments.
Truthfully, “Twelve-Vals For the Legions” is the only song I can pinpoint and decipher, by name
, and it’s not until it’s acoustic outro that I can do so. This is a problem that is magnified by Formshifter
’s production. The ability to clean up a gritty band this much is detesting -- almost. I suppose the greater crime rings with vocally vomiting every song identically. But it’s an umbrella failure, and boy, does this umbrella have it’s holes (the production equals the umbrella). There may never be a more top heavy album as this one until the second coming of Christ. Songs are completely devoid of any passion to change the chug-lead-chug mentality from “The Azrael Trigger” on. Breakdowns fill holes where ideas could lay and, and this feels most important, everything sounds the exact same. Everything. From tonality to where a solo will occur, to the fuc
king song length, everything is choreographed in the exact same manner and it’s maddening. When a band who showed actual promise through a debut takes the machinist mentality in cranking out a follow-up then there’s more than boredom to be concerned of.