Apoptosis – the natural death of cells which occurs as part of an organism’s growth or development. How apt. It’s not often an album blasts off with some of the most ridiculous bass riffing known to man, but this is science-loving death metallers Allegaeon, a band who continue to grow and develop their sound with each album, delivering the unexpected to even the most seasoned listener.

Taster track ‘Exothermic Chemical Combustion’ is quite the introduction, boasting rapid-fire riffing, guttural vocals, solos that melt your mind and some mental time changes, but these alone do not tell the story of the whole album. 

Allegaeon have a wealth of not-inconsiderable talent at their disposal, with guitarists Greg Burgess and Michael Stancel showing real flair and aggression throughout, moving seamlessly from walls of brutal noise to flourishing solos and back again. After galloping through ‘Interphase//Meiosis’ and ‘Extremophiles (B)’, when ‘The Secular Age’ reaches full tilt, it is an exhilarating ride.

The vocals of Riley McShane are more varied this time around (recent covers of Rush songs have shown the man has a fair set of pipes). Crushing guttural vocals are interchanged with some top-notch clean singing on ‘Tsunami’ and ‘Submergence’, providing even more texture and variance to the album. As on previous efforts, science-based lyrics dominate and again make for interesting reading.

Providing some light relief to the pummelling tech-death on display is ‘Color of the Current’, designed to sit with the previously mentioned ‘Tsunami’ and ‘Submergence’. In Burgess’ own words he wanted to capture the feeling of water moving around the listener – just as real-world currents ebb and flow, so does the intensity of the piece. It works.

Many albums of this genre can suffer from muddy production levels – not here. Each instrument is given room to breathe, so you can hear the solos fly, the vocals hit home and each blastbeat shakes the teeth out your head. The band does produce slabs of earth-shattering heavy noise when the need arises, but this is done by design, rather than poor production.

It’s been said before; All Hail. All Hail Science.

Apoptosis is out now on Metal Blade. Purchase here.

Words: Scott Crawford

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