Review Summary: Breakdown the Archetype
Nostalgic bands…we all have them. Those bands we grew up listening to that have influenced our growth and maturity as fans of music. For me, BTA is a stanchion of my musical progression. I have stubbornly held fast to the notion that their first three albums are well-crafted instances of prog death done right, especially in the Christian-themed arena. From originally listening to Physics of Fire
back in the day, to anticipating the hell out of Dichotomy
, to rediscovering the band they were in Terminate Damnation
, BTA has thus far failed to disappoint my expectations. While they’ve never been a completely original band, they have never really painted with the same numbers as everyone else, and I give them credit for sticking to their formula in a scene where originality is increasingly rare. As I come to I Am
, however, I have to wonder if nostalgia is the longest leg that BTA is standing on.
This then brings me to my double entendre of a summary. In this album, Becoming the Archetype
have indeed broken down their own archetype by upping the prevalence of breakdown-centric deathcore. Whether this was a safe move to introduce what is now basically a new band, or just a sign that the tank might be running on empty, this album is a marked regression from a band that has pushed their music with every release whilst still retaining a familiar sound. This just doesn’t have the instantly recognizable sound that has been their mainstay. Only the occasional keyboard interlude from rhythm guitarist Seth Hecox (the only original member, incidently) will remind you that you’re listening to a BTA record. Through repeated listens one can catch glimpses of a band that once was still shine through, such as “The Planet Maker” with its sludgy riff, flashy guitar work and few instances of notable clean vocals. Another is the title track, which calls to mind the structures of past greatness from the song “End of the Age” from Dichotomy
I suppose my problem with this album is that it wasn’t what I
wanted it to be, and that can be a dangerous line to tread. I Am
is by no means an abysmal record, but I held it to a checklist of the band’s back catalogue and found it lacking. So as I find myself hitting repeat on several songs, I’ve realized that I’m a bit torn by this album. While it’s by no means a landmark album by a critically acclaimed band, it now represents a bigger problem within my musical consumption. And that is letting initial bias become continual opinion. I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with only listening to music that reinforces the boundaries of one’s own taste, or that constantly redefines what those boundaries are. However, I will speak for myself when I say that such mindsets have numbed me to how truly beautiful passionate music can be.