‘Fragments of Form and Function’ is Allegaeon’s debut full-length album. Signed to Metal Blade Records after their self 2008 EP, which just so happened to be produced by Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Matriden, Cobalt), Allegaeon has put together a blistering 10-track LP that lyrically touches on stem cell research, cryonics, evolution and much more. With such deep and touchy subjects as basis for messages, Allegaeon should theoretically be able to back it up with music that is equally deep and complex. Do they manage? Check after the jump to find out.
‘Fragments of Form and Function’ beings with ‘The Cleansing’, a track that starts off with very digital sounding synths, setting a mechanical tone for the album. Quickly, it jumps into the tech/melodic death metal style that will pervade through the rest of the album. It’s a brutally fast song complete with intense blast beats, intricate riffing and guitar harmonization. If you enjoy this track, you are bound to appreciate the rest of the album.
The production of ‘Fragments of Form and Function’ is underwhelming when using high-end headphones but sounds perfectly fine when using my Macbook Pro speakers. It’s an interesting contrast but one that makes a lot of sense: The Macbook is tailored for certain frequencies whereas my headphones don’t try to hide anything. So, if you’re using high quality headphones, here is what you can expect: Somewhat thing sounding guitars, almost no low end (I really couldn’t hear the bass at all), a marked difference in cymbal volume and the vocals sound a bit buried. However, through my laptop speakers, the production sounds very tight and convincing (sans the bass, of course).
Some of the production aspects that stand out with headphones are the panning of the guitars and the panning of the toms. The guitar harmonizations stand out and are really a treat to hear. The toms sound huge and the fills travel from one ear to the other with such speed that it’s really fun when it happens and left me with a grin almost each time. Also, the low string droning of the 7-string guitars sounds almost mechanical. This coupled with the artwork of the album and you’ve got a good mental image of what Allegaeon was trying to convey with their music.
I want to take a moment here to talk about the talent of these musicians. It’s easy to hear that they are all insanely talented and know how to put a song together so that it flows not only with amazing ease but also with extreme effectiveness. I also want to give a special nod to drummer Jordan Belfast: He plays with brutal speed and has extremely solid chops. However, the thing that stands out the most about his playing is his ability to know exactly when less is more. If you want to hear a great example of how clever he can be, just check out the first 30 seconds of ‘Across The Folded Line’.
The band also likes to toy with expectations sometimes: The outro to ‘Biomech – Vals No.666’ is a very pretty, Celtic inspired nylon string melody complete with orchestral strings. This type of melody is hinted at during the song when one moment of guitar soloing sounded suspiciously like a Celtic flute or whistle. Also, the exact middle of ‘Accelerated Evolution’ breaks down into something very unexpected and almost, dare I say it, polka-esque. Trust me, it works.
‘Fragments of Form and Function’ is an album that grew on me with each listen. The songs flow well into one another making for an easy listening experience. Just understand that this album features some incredibly intense musical assaults. Make sure you’re ready to survive the onslaught.
4 out of 5 skulls