United States, Metal Blade Records, Technical Melodic Death Metal
I want to like this album. I really want to like this album. But I want to hate it too. Unfortunately, its just not really working out either way for me, so Formshifter ends up floating someplace inbetween.
I will use the song “Iconic Images” as a model for Formshifter, because I think this song sums up the album quite nicely: Allegaeon has employed a moderate helping of neo-classicism to make songs more interesting and the album more individual; but at the same time, the band has embraced their metalcore side a bit too much, and thereby LOST some individuality, along with some of their more technical death metal moments.
Let’s take a step back for a moment. 2010’s Fragments of Form and Function was an absolute masterpiece. Simply one of the best albums of 2010, hands down. Technical, progressive, heavy, melodic… lyrics about philosophy, evolution, physics… memorable songs, over-the-top-technicality and solos…what more could a technical metalhead want?! Fragments is my third most played album released in 2010 – I simply cannot find enough good adjectives to describe it.
Fast forward two years, and we have the follow-up, Formshifter. Its a pretty solid album. I would say even a good album…and, if released by someone else, possibly even a GREAT album. But coming from Allegaeon, I was hoping for more technical, and less typical American melodic metalcore. I feel bad even typing such slander, but I am disappointed with Formshifter. Perhaps the problem is that my hopes were just set to high.
On songs like the aforementioned “Iconic Images,” Allegaeon channels the composers they were in past lives, for the absolutely head-turning Flamenco-esque guitar interlude and a classical guitar closing. If all of Formshifter sounded like this track, I would be giving it a 10/10. Unfortunately, only closer “Secrets of the Sequence” follows the lead of “Iconic Images.”
As for the rest of the album… its technical at times, and melodic at times, but it simply doesn’t have the “WOW WHAT IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW?!” factor that made Fragments so memorable and so jaw-dropping. I am left thinking of what could have been, or what could be next time. Allegaeon is definitely a top tier metal band, but with Formshifter they fell in line with that top pack, rather than leading it, like they rightfully should be.