I discovered Becoming The Archetype on a whim at shortly after they released Dichotomy. I was intrigued by the album cover, drawn in by the bearded man on the back, and pleased by the music I heard. since then they've become one of my favorite bands, and last years album Celestial Completion was one of the best albums to come out in 2011. Since then however Becoming The Archetype have been very busy and have a lot of changes, from the loss of drummer Brent Duckett to the loss of the bearded beast of a vocalist Jason Wisdom, and the addition of drummer Chris Heaton and new vocalist Chris McCane. This leaves Seth Hecox as the only remaining original band member. So that's a lot to handle as a band and fans. When the lineup changes were announced and shortly after we were told we'd be getting a new album just over a year after Celestial Completion many were not entirely sure what to expect.
Well from the get go you as a fan can rest assured that the bands sound has not changed, this is still easily identifiable as Becoming The Archetype, which is a heavily death metal inspired version of metalcore. Celestial Completion brought a lot of progressive elements to the table sound wise, and while they aren't entirely dropped, this album seems to go back towards older stuff. This album honestly felt like it might have been placed better between Dichotomy and Celestial Completion.
What might be considered the largest change is the swapping of vocalists. This can quite literally break a band for many people, because the vocalist is generally the most accessible or relatable portion of the music, plus it doesn't help that Jason Wisdom had a hell of a voice. We got a small taste of Chris's voice on the cover of 'O' Holy Night' but outside of that and having heard pretty good things about him performing live, we really didn't have much to go on. I'll say in the end I still miss Jason, but Chris has done a fantastic job taking his place. He brings a bit more of a typical death metal style growl to the album as a whole, but it fits perfectly with their already established sound.
I'll be honest in that I forgot until recently the fact that the drummer was replaced, I want to say that speaks for Heaton's talent on drums because if I didn't know it I'd say Duckett was still on drums. Heaton does a great job providing a solid backbone to the album and while he doesn't really get the limelight on the album, his presence is felt throughout and his talent is not missed.
Seth promised us that this would be the most technical and heavy album they had written, and even Jason talked about how this was the best material the band had ever written regardless of him being in the mix, and while it is commonplace for a band to say this for every album they release, I'd say they might have delivered on that promise. The blend of the heavier aspects of Dichotomy and the more progressive guitar focus portions of Celestial Completion have made this quite and impressive album musically speaking. You get some excellent solo work from Seth; my favorites being on 'The Timebender', 'The Weapon Breaker' (which has a small portion of music that leads into the solo that sounds like something Born Of Osiris's stuff.), and 'The Sun Eater'. I need to re-listen to their older three albums more again, but I'd say I Am definitely gives them a run for their money in terms of heaviness.
My one qualm with this album is the instrumental. Some of their insturmentals are fantastic, like 'St. Anne's Lullaby' and 'Nights Sorrow', both of which are excellent acoustic pieces, however I Am brings us a piano piece with some electronic elements behind it, which isn't necessarily a bad track it just doesn't seem to fit the tone of the album overall, and it's not as impressive as the rather great acoustic work on those previous two.
Outside of that Becoming The Archetype have solidified in my mind that their sound isn't going to change and that while previous members will be missed, the fans should have nothing to worry about. Becoming The Archetype are still killing it.
If you have Spotify you really should give this album a listen right now, and then you should go buy the album from the band. Or if you don't have Spotify skip to step two.
Becoming The Archetype - I Am