Allegaeon- Elements of the Infinite (Metal Blade)

Is there really such a thing as a technical death metal album that's immediate as well as engaging?
Release Date: 
24 Jun 2014 (All day)

As a music critic, it’s a rare pleasure indeed when an album you weren’t expecting to like surprises you by being awesome. Perhaps it’s because everything we listen to we scrutinise, or the fact that by nature we have to take in a lot more music than your average fan, but happy little accidents like this are certainly a rarity for someone as jaded and sun-deprived as yours truly.

Let me qualify all of this by saying that for the most part, I’m not a fan of technical death metal. The endless noodling or impenetrable soundscapes of the genre have just never been able to get me interested; I even have a heretical disinterest in media darlings such as Gorguts. So you can imagine my trepidation when I was tasked with reviewing the new LP by Allegaeon, a band whom all I knew of was the fact that they composed hyper-technical songs. I imagined I would be struggling to objectively deconstruct an album that did nothing for me, but one that fits into a genre of metal with many fans that all seem to get it way more than I do.

What I got instead was an album that may make me reconsider my opinion on tech death.

So, why does Elements of the Infinite work so well for me?  On paper, it doesn’t do anything radically different; the songs are still densely packed compositions of hyper-technical musicianship mixed with blasting brutality. Granted, there are a few little touches the band adds to the music that you wouldn’t find on your typical tech death album- symphonic flourishes always agree with me, and the sparing use of electronics works surprisingly well- but this is still undoubtedly in keeping with the norms of the genre.

What Allegaeon does so well is deliver a sense of immediacy, dare I say, even a sense of urgency to their music. The impressive musicianship is all there, but you appreciate it less by stroking your beard and nodding sagely and more like a Van Halen solo, by shouting to your mate “this is fucking awesome!” and banging your head. This is the true victory of this record; it gives you plenty of material to wrap your head around but still allows you the fun of hearing some awesome hooks while you’re playing mental catchup. The chin-stroking crowd may consider immediacy to be contrary to the intricacies of technical death metal, but it’s just the thing my easily distracted brain would have liked to hear from the genre.

I’m not sure how much of an impact this album is going to make on the metal world, but it’s certainly made a convert out of me. Embrace the infinite.