Have you heard Allegaeon’s latest album Proponent for Sentience yet? If you haven’t, then you really, really should. It’s that good. It’s also one of those very pleasing records that just gets better the more you listen to it. With each spin you notice and appreciate different things about the songs, and you wonder how you didn’t notice them the first time around.
Hmm, there’s clearly some form of black magic going on here. Or, as we’ll see, maybe some high-tech shenanigans are afoot…
Introduce us to Allegaeon
Well we’re a 5 piece modern melodic death metal band, originally out of Fort Collins Colorado, but now out of Denver. Riley McShane on Vocals, Michael Stancel and myself (Greg Burgess) on guitar, Brandon Park on drums, and Corey Archuleta on bass.
What are your influences?
This vast question depending on who you ask of it. For myself and Mike, you’re looking at Megadeth, Dream Theater, Death, Cynic, Yes, Soilwork and many others.
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
1) Zimmers Hole – When you were shouting at the devil, we were in league with Satan.
2) Miseration – Your Demons – Their Angels
3) Bloodshot Dawn – Demos
4) Opeth – Ghost Reveries
5) Andy James- Andy James
Tell us about your latest release
Proponent For Sentience is our 4th album on Metal Blade, and our 5th release ever. We recorded 13 tracks, 12 of which are on the record. Its a loose concept record about Artificial Intelligence, based on the theories of Stephen Hawking. It’s a long record, clocking in at like an hour twelve minuets.
Tell us about the conceptual story of the album
The corner stone songs that relay the story are the 3 title tracks. Its basically in Sonata Form, with a fast/slow/fast pacing. The Conception, The Algorithm, and The Extermination are musical representatives of a possible timeline in our not too distant future. A overview of the story is thus: the early stages of experimentation, to sentience and evolution, to the dissolution of the 3 laws of robotics and eradication of mankind. The title is duplicitous in that humanity would be a proponent for sentience to aid our species. The other perspective is one of misanthropy, being that humanity is evil and needs to be destroyed.
How does the album artwork tie into this?
Our original concept was to have the background image be basically 3 panes, each one showing the passage of time as a representative of the 3 movements. When we lost our original artist, and switched over to Sam Nelson who is more of a painter we had to change the concept. One central image that would have many facets to the story, and an image that could be interpreted by the observer. The Allegaeon emblem of the “A” we chose to have in red like Hal from 2001 a Space Odyssey but other than that I’ll leave it up to the audience.
How were the songs written and recorded?
Mike and I write the music individually, and then we send the demo with programmed drums to the other guys. We tab everything out, and give Riley lyric times. Everyone learns it, comes in and just track it. Everyone has free reign to put their mark on it. Corey writes his bass parts, Brandon writes his fills and spruces up the drum parts, and Riley or I write the lyrics. It’s very efficient and I think we pump out tunes at a good rate that way. I couldn’t imagine sitting in a room jamming for months on end, I think I would go crazy.
What’s your favourite song on the album and why?
Proponent For Sentience III: The Extermination is by far my favourite song. I think we really accomplished something, reaching a balance between tech playing and good songwriting. On top of that getting to hear two of my favourite musicians ever play with us was pretty surreal. When Ben Ellis sent his solo I got goose bumps. When Bjorn sent his vocal tracks I actually teared up a bit. The song is just very special to me and I think we ended the album the properly with it. I’m not even sure a lot of people will pick up on all the small quotes and melodies we used in that song to wrap it up. I just couldn’t be more happy with it,
What was it like breaking in a new singer for this album?
It was easy to be honest. I’ve been friends with Riley for so long, and we can communicate musically so well it was painless. He came into the band a year prior so he didn’t even feel like the new guy in the studio he just belonged there. We’d all had so much road time together at that point it was really a non issue. Plus his work with Son Of Aurelius proved to me that he was gonna be a champ in the studio, and I wasn’t wrong. He’s one of the best musicians I’ve ever had the privilege to work with,
Why did you choose to cover Rush for the last track?
We actually recorded 2 Rush covers, that we were originally just recording for bonus tracks. We’ve only ever covered one song which was “When Satan Rules His World” by Deicide. So that was the front runner for the cover, however when Riley joined the band our options opened up. He said lets do a prog rock band, which I think we were all super excited about. Brandon really wanted to play some Neil Peart so Rush was decided on. We chose two Rush songs that were special to me and the dudes killed it.
You have a couple of guests on this album – how did they come to happen?
Well we had a band meeting where we had to decide which songs were gonna make the record. I think we had like 17 written so it was just a trimming the fat meeting. We always have only done 10 songs and we carved it down to 11. So as we were we sitting around having this conversation we mentioned getting a guest vocalist in, to help diversify some of the songs. We just started spitting out vocalists, and Corey threw out Bjorn’s name. I loved that Idea so much so we went after him HA! We went through Soilwork’s management and we finally bugged them enough, that he agreed. As for Ben, I originally approached Ben to join Allegaeon after Ryan quit. I had no clue he was British, and no clue he was in Bloodshot Dawn. I was a fan of his playing way back, and then just over the years stayed in touch, and that’s that.
What is it like working with Metal Blade?
Couldn’t be happier. They’ve gone above and beyond for us during the making of this album. It’s been very interesting ride so far, and we’ve really grown to love Metal Blade. The employees are second to none. From Nikki in PR, to Brian Ames in the Art Department, everyone there is an absolute pleasure to work with and seeing what they can do is truly admirable.
How do you think your music will progress in the future?
I think we’ll continue to push the boundaries of what we’re capable of. I want to push the classical parts a little further, and integrate more jazz into what we do. There has always been a bit of it in our chord voicings, however I’d really like to bring it further into focus.
Do you have any upcoming live shows you want to talk about?
Yeah we’re about to head out with the Cavalera’s to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Roots album. Which will be a lot of fun, and then we’re going to be playing Ozzfest. So many great bands we’re going to be playing with. Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Opeth, Suicidal Tendencies, among others. its going to be amazing.
What are the next steps for Allegaeon?
Getting our live show together and getting our butts in the van. Also start writing a bit for the next album.
Any final words?
Thank you to everyone who took the time out to purchase, or to listen to our new record we really appreciate you guys. Also thank you to Wonderbox Metal for doing this interview with us, you rule!