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Allegaeon: Damnum

Colorado's Allegaeon are a difficult band to pigeonhole- technical melodic death metal is probably the most apt description for their sound. Their latest album Damnum is due for release via Metal Blade Records in February 22.

On the surface this album has everything I like in an extreme metal release:
Strong guitar work-check
Mix of melody and brutality-check
A mix of vocal styles- check
Highly technical, well executed drumming- check
Progressive elements -check

But despite the album containing a lot of what I usually like, this album just doesn’t hit the mark for me at all.

This album is an enigma -On one hand I do really like the track "Blight". Great heavy riffing and the overall mood is strong. "Only Loss" is another stand out track. On the flip side, tracks like "Of Beasts and Worms" are like nails on a chalk board to my ears. Perhaps it’s the nasally clean vocals that turns me off. I love progressive music and I’m not adverse to bands hopping around between moods and styles during songs or from track to track (take Between the Buried and Me as a good example), but on this album I hear a real lack of cohesion. I feel like I’m listening to a shuffled playlist from a couple of different bands or a shuffle of a bands back catalogue, rather than a new album. The 12 tracks are a mixed bag and unfortunately none of it really leaves a lasting impression on me. Some of the tracks are Black Dhalia Murder style Death Metal, some of the tracks are verging on Metal Core, and some of the tracks are heading towards progressive metal. I can't fault the playing or the production, so I guess it’s the song writing that doesn’t strike a chord with me which is a shame.

With all that said, I’m sure there are plenty of people who will love this album, so check it out and feel free to tell me how wrong I am!

Track list
1. Bastards of the Earth

2. Of Beasts and Worms

3. Into Embers

4. To Carry My Grief Through Torpor and Silence

5. Vermin

6. Called Home

7. Blight

8. The Dopamine Void Pt. 1

9. The Dopamine Void Pt. 2

10. Saturnine

11. In Mourning

12. Only Loss

Added: September 24th 2022
Reviewer: Chris Reid
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 869
Language: english

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Allegaeon: Damnum
Posted by Ben Dudai, SoT Staff Writer on 2022-09-24 17:19:25
My Score:

In the world of Technical, Progressive and Melodic Death Metal there are few bands who have made as memorable a mark as Colorado’s Allegaeon. For 15 years and through various line-up changes Allegaeon have forged their complex sound to the point where they now sit firmly at the tip of the spear of these sub genres. Now in 2022, the guys, in partnership, once again, with the highly sought after producer Dave Otero, have dropped their sixth full-length album in Damnum.

The title Damnum is a latin word meaning loss. Consequently the lyrical themes explored within by singer Riley McShane reflects many of his own and other band members' feelings of anger, grief, sadness and loneliness, which they have experienced over the last few years. Channeling the pain felt by the suicides of two close friends and even drawing lyrics from the suicide notes as well as literature that had been enjoyed between the friends gives the whole thing a real potency of feeling and at times can get pretty dark. However Riley has stated that his intention was more about showing the listeners who may also feel these dark emotions that they are not alone and to try to find a positive strength and light in the darkness through the music. I think they have done an excellent job with this synthesis.

While the lyrical content and pain is there to be felt, the music itself throughout is very uplifting and exciting, even with the brutality. Certainly the violence and furocity the band has always had remains and is even perfected further, yet so are the melodic elements. Allegaeon has reached new heights in that department. The guitar playing prowess from Greg Burgess and Michael Stancel is undeniable. Seamlessly mixing gentle complex acoustic passages with bludgeoning death metal riffing as well as beautiful heavy melodic passages and jaw-dropping solos. On Damnum, Allegaeon welcomes new drummer Jeff Saltzman, formerly of Continuum. With his inclusion and in combination with the uber talented Brandon Michael on bass, the rhythm section is equally mesmerizing.

In recent years Allegaeon albums have always been very consistent affairs from top to bottom and Damnum is no different. In my opinion it’s even more so than previously. So picking standout tracks is a hard task because every song is an exciting world of its own to explore. However you can't go wrong with the bludgeoning “Of Beasts and Worms”, the absolutely killer riffing of “To Carry My Grief Through Torpor and Silence”, the melodic splendor of “Into Embers” and the pulverizing power of “Blight”. Also the two part “The Dopamine Void” is once again another album highlight for Allegaeon as well as for Riley’s fantastic vocals, which for those unfamiliar with the band is a mix of killer, top-tier Death growls and goosebump inducing clean singing. I believe he’s announced his departure from the band, which if true, is a huge loss because the guy is a genuinely talented vocalist.

Allegaeon haven’t really done anything vastly different on Damnum and those familiar with their work will find it fits in with their established sound and direction very well. What they have achieved however is to level everything up quite dramatically. The compositions are the best they have ever produced, the playing and singing, which has always been great, is somehow even better, and the production by Dave Otero sounds full and powerful. Damnum is the band's best album to date and that's saying a lot because they have been pumping out great albums for years now. If you love it technical but also loaded with aggression, melodic expression and emotion then don’t sleep on Damnum. It’s Allegaeon’s masterpiece.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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