Melodic Death Metal is a genre in which you can find plenty of great stuff, but at the same time, much like almost any other sub genre, it's easy to find band's that are skilled technically speaking but lacking in creative song writing skills. Allegaeon, who are building quite the name for themselves since the release of their debut album Fragments Of Form And Function, are not one of these cookie cutter bands, and they hope to further that idea with the release of their latest album Formshifter.
The band takes heavy influence from the already established 'gothenberg sound' but they further build upon that with technicality and an overall immense sound. Drawing influences from bands like Dark Tranquility, Scar Symmetry, and mixed with the heavier sounds of bands like Miseration, and Son Of Aurelius.
So the first real question that comes to mind when a band releases their second album which is 'is it better than the first album?' This is a hard question to answer solely because Fragments Of Form And Function set the bar so high for the band, but Formshifter does represent a growth in overall sound I would say, everything sounds better and the musicianship seems to have gotten even tighter. The bands technicality has definitely taken a step forward which is evident on the very first track 'Behold (God I Am)' which is a 7 minute beast that begins with a nice acoustic opening. Which brings me to another point, the band has added more acoustic elements which is a nice touch and add's more atmosphere to the album on top of the sound Allegaeon has already established for themselves. Further proving their technical chops is the very next song 'Tartessos: The Hidden Xenocryst', which is chock full of aggressive riffs and solid soloing.
One things that really stands out for me with this band, which is true for both their albums, is the vocals provided by Ezra Haynes. Ezra's voice perfectly accommodates the bands sound. His vocals tend towards mid range and lows with this solid high screams. The end of the first track leaves quite an impression with the throaty growls roaring out 'So created, so destroyed. Behold, God I am.'
Instrumentally speaking this album is definitely a step up from the last album. Fragments Of Form And Function is definitely a solid album overall, but the writing on this album seems to have been stepped up, with more impressive driving riffs and more interesting drum fills. The title track has one of my favorite drum sections; about halfway through there's a fill that gets repeated a few times and it's something you can't help but attempt to air drum to. The guitar solo's sound very similar to the first album, in that Allegaeon has created their own sound, and there are plenty of solo's to be impressed by. There is even a rather standout moment for the bass guitar in the final track 'Secrets Of the Sequence' which will easily get stuck in your head.
Overall Formshifter stands very well for the band. It's an improvement from an already solid debut and definitely a contender for one of the best albums to come out this year, and possibly the best Melodic Death Album to come out thus far this year.