With Proponent For Sentience Allegaeon have delivered a musically complex, intelligent, and absorbing concept album that can rightfully sit alongside the true greats of the medium. With a lyrical arc rooted in science-fiction yet uncomfortably encroaching upon the reality of the present, the record captures the Fort Collins, CO natives at their most ambitious and accomplished, pushing the boundaries even further than on their three previous critically acclaimed full-lengths.
"With this record we're bringing ideas to the table that corroborate the fact that at this juncture, robotics as a field is moving forward at an alarming rate," explains vocalist Riley McShane. "This story is dotted with examples of real-life scientific advancements, and it is also perforated with details of humanity's flaws. Overall, the record tells a story that is still a bit too far fetched to be based in reality, but isn't too far beyond the scope of imagination to see occurring within the not-so-distant future."
Such grandiose and intricate thematic material requires a suitably grandiose and intricate soundtrack, and the band – rounded out by guitarists Greg Burgess & Michael Stancel, bassist Corey Archuleta and drummer Brandon Park – pushed themselves harder than they ever have before. Given that this is a band already lauded for their extreme technicality and capacity for writing music of truly epic scale, taking things to the next level is always going to represent a challenge, but one they tackled head on.
That they have ventured into far more expansive musical territory than previously explored before is evident from the moment the record starts. As "Proponent For Sentience I - The Conception" rushes from the speakers the listener is met with a veritable wall of choral vocals that is soon joined by similarly powerful orchestral elements before the guitars, bass and drums come thundering in, bringing to mind Dimmu Borgir at their most monumental while sounding almost impossibly huge. The three parts of the title track - "The Conception," "The Algorithm" and "The Extermination" - which Burgess envisaged as a sonata, not only provide the overall framework for the concept but also unite the songs over the course of the record.
While these individually and collectively represent the pivotal moments of the story they are also among the most epic and sweeping music unleashed here, yet such elements suffuse each of the tracks, none sounding more sinister than "Demons Of An Intricate Design," while "Terrathaw And The Quake" captures the band at their most anthemic. At the other end of the sonic spectrum, the record also wields some truly beautiful and sonically understated parts, such as the extended flamenco sections of "Grey Matter Mechanics - Appasonata Ex Machina," and throughout, the players were always cognizant of not repeating themselves, maintaining the core Allegaeon sound while always pushing it forward.