– Elements of the InfiniteGenre:
Technical Death MetalRelease Date:
June 24th 2014Label:
Metal Blade RecordsAuthor:
Just before I took my first listen to Elements of the Infinite
(2014), which is the third full-length album by US death metal act Allegaeon
, I realised something about the death metal releases of 2014 that I'd enjoyed so far: there wasn't a really killer technical death metal effort among them. Epic melodic death from Arch Enemy
's War Eternal
, challenging progressive death in Lascaille's Shroud
's Interval 02: Parallel Infinities, The Abscinded Universe
, powerful symphonic death from MaYaN
and even some good old classic sounding death metal from Deus Otiosus
. But no technical death metal standout. Well, until now that is.
I haven't encountered Allegaeon
before this album but it seems that their earlier work is usually described as technically minded melodic death metal rather than technical death. On Elements of the Infinite
though the music is actually dominantly full-on technical death metal that occasionally has a prominent and epic melodic death metal vibe on top, as is the case with the album's lead single 1.618
. So it seems that the band has done an about face with their mix of the two styles of death metal. Having not heard any of their older work I can't really say how it compares, but from an outsider's point of view I was instantly impressed with Elements of the Infinite
. Aside from the impeccable musicianship I also especially enjoy the lyrics which are themed around space and science-fiction. The growls of vocalist Ezra Haynes
being easier to follow than most really helps me feel appreciation for the lyrics. It's clear that a good deal of thought has good into them and as a fan of sci-fi and spacey stuff they strike a chord with me on a personal level too.Elements of the Infinite
is impressive right from the start with the opening track Threshold of Perception
, which starts with a nice symphonic and acoustic guitar build up before segueing into lead guitar playing and choirs until things really get going with the technical riffs. Most bands probably would have done something as a separate intro track and been worse off for it. Allegaeon
make no such mistake. If anything though Elements of the Infinite
is an album that gets more impressive as it goes along. The more melodic death metal influenced tracks provide a great balance between the technical playing that characterises the album. Another aspect I especially enjoy is the album's atmospheric side. There's even some quasi-symphonic stuff happening in the background on certain songs like, Biomech II
, which is definitely one of the best tracks on the album along with 1.618
(make sure to also check out the hilarious music video for this one), Gravimetric Time Dilation
and Threshold of Perception
.Elements of the Infinite
is the first excellent technical death metal record I've heard so far this year and it sets the standard for other bands to beat. Masterful musicianship and strong vocals meets a great balance of aggression, melody and sophistication. That's what Elements of the Infinite
is. 94/100CommentArch Enemy
– Black EarthGenre:
Melodic Death MetalRelease Date:
December 12th 1996Label:
Wrong Again RecordsAuthor:
is the debut full-length studio album by Swedish death metal act Arch Enemy
. The album was released through Wrong Again Records
in December 1996. After leaving Carcass
in 1993, guitarist Michael Amott
founded hard rock/heavy metal act Spiritual Beggars
in 1994, but to satisfy his interest in harder edged metal, he founded Arch Enemy
in 1995 with his brother and guitarist Christoffer Amott
, drummer Daniel Erlandsson
and former Furbowl
vocalist Johan Liiva
. This is the four-piece that recorded Black Earth
. Michael Amott
handles the bass duties on this album.
The original album features 9 tracks while later re-releases feature either 2 or 3 bonus tracks. one of the bonus tracks is a cover of "Aces High"
by Iron Maiden
. It´s a good idea to include a couple of bonus tracks on the re-releases because the original album is only 32:46 minutes long.
The music on the album is melodic death metal. It´s a pretty raw and old school type of melodic death metal though, so if you´re only familiar with the band´s later releases, this is a bit different and quite a bit more brutal. Johan Liiva
isn´t as such a great vocalist in terms of technical skill, but he´s got his own unique style, which makes up for it. A kind of semi-growling/shouting vocal delivery that suits the music well but ultimately gets a bit monotone. His performance here is decent but I´ve heard him deliver better vocal performances than this one.
The main strength and attraction of Arch Enemy
have however always been the dual guitar attack of the Amott
brothers and the same applies to "Black Earth"
. Their playing style on "Black Earth"
isn´t nearly as melodic and memorable as on later albums though, but still colourful and passionate. The material are not always that memorable and few tracks stand out as highlights and along with the raw and unpolished sound production, which definitely could have been better sounding too, this do have some effect on the listening experience. Overall "Black Earth"
is a decent debut release but I think it´s obvious that Arch Enemy
were still not completely mature as a band at this point. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted. 60/100Comment
Progressive MetalRelease Date:
February 10th 2007Label:
is the debut full-length studio album by Australian, Brisbane based progressive metal act Arcane
. The album, which was originally intended to be released as an EP and only to feature the 24:15 minute long "Ashes"
title track, was released through OzProg Music
in February 2007. Now with 4 additional tracks and a playing time of 55:57 minutes.
The band play a very intricate form of progressive metal with interesting song structures, a generally dark and melancholic atmosphere and of course impeccable and at times virtuosic musicianship. The latter is more or less a trademark of the genre, so it´s not so surprising. Lead vocalist Jim Grey
has a rather distinct sounding voice and it took me a while to learn to appreciate, but he sure is very skilled and after I have gotten used to his voice, I can´t imagine Arcane´s
music without it. At times he reminds me of Jan-Henrik Ohme
from the Norwegian act Gazpacho
. There´s lots of passion and also bite in his performance. I like the fact that he is able to deliver both soft styled vocals and more raw almost aggressive vocals too. We´re not talking extreme metal vocals here though, just a commanding, powerful and passionate clean vocal style.
As such Arcane
don´t bring much new to the table if you are well versed in progressive metal neither when talking instrumentation nor songwriting, but they deliver high quality material and it´s obvious that these guys are very talented and I´m sure they will release even more unique sounding material in the future. With a strong and unique sounding vocalist like Jim Grey
there´s certainly a possibility that it might happen. Much great music begins with a quality vocalist and bearing that in mind Arcane
are very fortunate to have Jim Grey
There are many positive things to say about "Ashes"
and overall I really enjoy the album, but unfortunately there´s one thing holding the album back from being really great. The sound production isn´t very powerful or well sounding and while I can live with that because the music is as convincing and well executed as it is, it´s still an issue that drags my rating down a bit. The sound is pretty powerless and some of the instruments (mainly the keyboards) sound detached from the rest of the instruments in the soundscape. So a 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted. With a better sound production "Ashes"
would have been a sure 4 star (80%) rating. 70/100Comment
– A Matter of Life and DeathGenre:
Progressive Heavy MetalRelease Date:
August 28th 2006Label:
With their last two albums Brave New World
and Dance of Death Iron Maiden
were on a much needed new high after the disappointing and patchy nineties efforts. Despite the massive hype I remember for this one at the time though I actually think it represents a small step down for the band, but we're still dealing with massively superior work to anything released in the nineties.
The average track running time is quite long on this one with only single Different World
under the five minute mark. Most songs tend to be approaching or over seven minutes making A Matter of Life and Death
a much less direct Iron Maiden
album even when put up next to the previous two albums which also had many long songs. It works very well when taken in one listen but individually there just aren't so many standout tracks that make me get addicted to them the way a lot of their eighties work does. My favourites are easily These Colours Don't Run
and The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
. To say it isn't a very creative album, especially for a band who've been going so long, would be wrong though. 85/100Comment
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