Allegaeon has somehow survived lack of finances and band turnover to release great album after great album. “Apoptosis” is their last and one of their greatest. The first big change was vocalist Riley McShane who stepped in on 2016’s “Proponent For Sentience” which was my favorite to date by them.
McShane has the death growl of his predecessor Ezra Haynes but he adds an awesome clean vocal which gives the band a dynamic they were lacking. Though his near pig oinking on “Extremophiles (B)” is a bit much. Additionally, I would make with “Apoptosis” is that the band does not take enough advantage of his clean vocals.
The album is technical as fuck, but is still very listenable. Too many tech prog death metal bands lose themselves in their own notes. Allegaeon isn’t one of those bands. New bassist Brandon Michael adds his own style to the album which is very melodic. I mean check his playing toward the tail end of “Interphase // Meiosis” or the chorus of “Extremophiles (B).” Wow.
I don’t think that “Apoptosis” is better than the last two Allegaeon albums. Those were just perfect BUT since the band cannot release anything but a great album, there’s still a lot to love about “Apoptosis.” It’s aggressive, technical as fuck and proves that they are one of the most dangerous bands on the planet. If you’ve liked them before, you will definitely enjoy “Apoptosis” as well.
Label: Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 19 April 2019
John Mitchell returns with the third Lonely Robot album “Under Stars.” Last year saw him resurrect one of his other projects Kino (with Pete Trewavas of Marillion). Kino and Lonely Robot definitely have similarities in style and that works for me just fine. Mitchell is a formidable songwriter and no matter how often he releases music, he never seems to run out of song ideas.
Joining Mitchell once again is drummer Craig Blundell. And unlike previous Lonely Robot albums, there are no other contributors. Thus it feels more like a true solo album. And to be fair, Mitchell doesn’t need help. He has one of my favorite voices, he is a talented guitarist and has no problem with the rest of the instrumentation (sans drums).
The album starts with an intro track “Terminal Earth” and if you’ve read my reviews, you know I usually hate wasting time on instrumental intros BUT this track works. It’s not a throw away and sets up the whole album nicely. From there, the first single “Ancient Ascendant” kicks in and the chorus is typically memorable since that’s what Mitchell does extremely well. Then comes “Icarus” which is another winner. Other favorites are “Authorship of Our Lives” and “When Gravity Fails.”
“The Signal” might be the only song that for whatever reason doesn’t grab me. It’s fine though and doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the album. Once again, John Mitchell proves he is an extraordinary talent. “Under Stars” is yet another great album of songs from him and he never seems to run out of great music. If you enjoyed either of the first two Lonely Robot albums (or like modern prog the likes of Steven Wilson), you need to add “Under Stars” to your collection.
Label: InsideOut Music
Release Date: 26 April 2019
Periphery is one of those bands that I kept waiting for them to unleash a great album. After their second album “Periphery II: Now It’s Personal,” I thought they were posed to write a masterpiece. I thought it would be the “Juggernaut” double album. But that one seemed scattered to me and a missed opportunity. “Periphery III: Select Difficulty” sounded like they were basically treading water. So now what?
I am glad that I stuck with them because “Periphery IV: Hail Stan” is definitely the band’s masterpiece. Honestly my top songs by Periphery are all on this album. The near 17 minute opening epic “Reptile” is their shining moment and then you have the INCREDIBLE closer “Satellites.” The album is worth buying for those 2 songs alone. But wait, there’s more!
“It’s Only Smiles” and “Crush” are two songs that can please anyone who likes great melody. Each prove that Periphery are definitely growing as musicians and songwriters. While both of those showcase their melodic side, “Chvrch Bvrner” and “Follow Your Ghost” are the Periphery that most people know: insane djent that tries to rip your head off. This makes “Hail Stan” a balanced album in addition to being well written.
To say that “Hail Stan” is my surprise of 2019 so far is to put it mildly. It proves that you shouldn’t give up on bands that you know are good at what they do. The other positive is that this album makes me want to revisit the previous albums with a chance to find something new. Hail Stan? Hail Periphery!
Label: 3DOT Recordings (Fuck Sumerian)
Release Date: 5 April 2019