Change is needed for growth. Whether it’s moving to a new area, taking on a new job, or writing your fifth record, you need to be comfortable with the uncomfortable in order to move on, to become a better version of yourself. That’s exactly what Allegaeon have done with this delightful album that not does a great job of exhibiting an impressive amount of growth while also retaining the aspects that made them so endearing up until now.
What made many latch onto the Colorado-based group is their particular mixture of melodic and extreme metal styles: prog, death, melodeath, thrash, and black. They even embraced the joke in the hilarious “1.618” which was a song about the Golden Ratio. That’s not to say Allegaeon’s style is mathematical perfection, but few bands are able to make music this extreme be this damn catchy. That ability is on full display throughout Apoptosis, particularly on “Interphase // Meiosis,” both “Extremophiles” suites, and “Exothermic Chemical Combustion.” It’s an album chock-full of everything that made the band so endearing before, except there’s quite a bit more.
Most notably, there’s the sense that the band reached pretty far from their comfort zones when creating the record. Vocalist Riley McShane finally gets to show off his full range with some lovely melodies popping up throughout; his harsh voice even feels fuller, deeper. Also, guitarists Greg Burgess and Michael Stancel have similarly gone harsher and more beautiful; Apoptosis contains quite a few riffs and sections that are notably heavier and more-low end than expected. It’s overall a much more aggressive record than past efforts; however, longer stretches of melody weave their way through songs, and guitar solos are both more prominent and better executed than in the past.
It’s also important to note that while the songs are less “pure Allegaeon” than expectations, Apoptosis is a real sonic treat. The embrace of more extreme and progressive elements flowed into the songwriting, where songs have wonderful payoffs, and the overall style feels closer to Between The Buried And Me than past efforts. That’s not saying this is Allegaeon gone BTBAM, but that comparison gets you to the idea that the band weren’t afraid of being bold.
Even the length has been slightly trimmed down from past efforts, resulting in an album that goes fairly strongly to the finish line. Were it not for the unnecessary acoustic number “Colors of the Currents” and about half of the 10-minute title track, Apoptosis might just be a perfect progressive death metal record.
That minor nitpick aside, Allegaeon have embraced the changes they’ve encountered among the years (member turnover, moving, life events) to create their best record to date and a top-tier album for the style.