Allegaeon – Forging New ElementsSunday, 15th June 2014
Since their first full-length, Fragments of Form and Function, Allegaeon have been writing the tastiest riffs this side of the Atlantic. Forging ahead with technically driven melodic death metal, the band has taken what has become a tried but true formula over the years and created a sound that is complex, intense, and most importantly, their own. After the release of their second album, Formshifter, there was a significant shake-up among the ranks. Guitarist Ryan Glisan left the band, and some thought the band would not recover. But recover they did, arguably in their best shape yet.
Elements of the Infinite, the band’s latest effort, sees the addition of Brandon Park on drums (they had been working with a session drummer on Formshifter) and Mike Stancel on guitar. Elements also sees the band on a creative high, strengthening their songwriting abilities and enhancing their sound with some impressive orchestration stemming from a collaboration between guitarist Greg Burgess and Joe Ferris.
An all but certain top 5’er come the end of the year for this scribe, it didn’t take much coaxing to give Greg Burgess and Mike Stancel a call to discuss the state of the band, their amusing “1.618” video, the mispronunciation of their band name, and even the possibility of other life forms out there. As an aside, an apology to Mike Stancel, who contributed more to the conversation than what appears here. Unfortunately, his voice didn’t record clearly on my cheap recorder, hence only a few comments appear in the interview.
Dead Rhetoric: With two new members in the band, did you feel that you had something to prove with Elements of the Infinite?
Greg Burgess: Yeah, I felt we had quite a lot to prove, but not because of Mike [Stancel] and Brandon [Park]. It’s mostly just to prove that without our old guitar player [Ryan Glisan] we were still viable, because there were lots of doubts as to if we were.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel that Elements of the Infinite differs from your previous albums?
Burgess: Well, I’m happy with it. I’m like 100% happy with it, so that’s a big difference!
Dead Rhetoric: “1.618” is based on the “golden ratio.” You converted it into guitar riffs, what was the process for doing that?
Burgess: Since we play 8 strings in drop E, I just assigned the key to E minor and used the ratio to assign pitches. The first step off of E is F, and I didn’t know how to notate the decimal point so I just made a decimal point E, and then 6 would be B-flat and 8 would be C. So it’s just a play off those numbers.
Dead Rhetoric: The video for “1.618”…it’s been getting a lot of plays for you and has been pretty successful. How’d you come up with the wheel of subgenres idea?
Burgess: It started back with Formshifter, we actually filmed the black metal scene with that line-up plus a fill-in drummer, but the schedules and our personalities were just not working, so that whole thing just fell apart. So when it came to the new album, we thought, let’s re-do it and we were hoping to actually use some footage from that. But Ezra’s beard is like 8 million times bigger and we have different people so we ended up re-shooting it and it turned out really well.
We actually weren’t sure how well it was going to turn out so we filmed two videos at the same time. So we did the funny one first (“1.618”) but thought there would be a backlash with people hating it because it was too goofy, so we made a serious one that is going to come out soon. People are going to fucking hate that video.
Dead Rhetoric: Was there a favorite part with the subgenres, was there one in particular that you liked more than the others?
Mike Stancel: I thought hair metal was the most fun. A lot of it was not in the video.
Burgess: The amount of footage that we have from the hair metal day, oh my god it’s so funny. There’s so much shit that didn’t make the video.
Stancel: My favorite part was walking in and seeing Corey in that leopard print one-piece.
Burgess: When we did the Viking and the black metal scenes, it was freezing. It was cold as shit. It was not a fun day. It was kind of funny, we were filming on the street and this woman pulled up asking what we were doing and I lost my shit on this poor woman. I have the longest fuse ever so everyone was shocked when it happened, but I basically told her to get the fuck out here, it was so cold and I was standing around in a kilt. I feel horrible for that poor woman, but I was freezing.
Dead Rhetoric: “Genocide for Praise” is 13-minutes long. You’ve had some longer songs in the past but was there a different approach to this one?
Burgess: This song was actually Mike’s writing try-out for the band. I had written the classical intro and a few parts so I gave it to him and I said, “Here’s part of a song I’ve written, I want you to finish it. Make it about 10-minutes long, and sound a little like an “Accelerated Evolution” part II. I also want the classical part to come back in the middle”.
Stancel: I didn’t even know, I was just like, okay, I’ll write this. Then the day that I showed it to Greg, they showed up at my door with a rose, Bachelorette style.
Burgess: We decided after the last tour that Mike was our guy and he was always joking about “if you want me in the band, make sure you do it like The Bachelorette.” So I went and got a rose, got a tux, got the guys, and we did it.
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