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Becoming the Archetype - "I Am" (CD)

Becoming the Archetype - "I Am" CD cover image

"I Am" track listing:

1. The Ocean Walker (3:30)
2. The Time Bender (3:23)
3. The Eyes of the Storm (2:55)
4. The Sky Bearer (3:50)
5. The Machine Killer (2:07)
6. The War Ender (4:23)
7. The Weapon Breaker (4:43)
8. The Planet Maker (3:17)
9. The Sun Eater (3:14)
10. I Am (5:44)

Reviewed by on December 22, 2012

"There is no wiggle room, a longing for sheer hatred and tainted refuge its prime motivator."

When vocalist/bassist Jason Wisdom and drummer Brent Duckett left Becoming The Archetype in late 2011, that left guitarist Seth Hecox as the longest reigning member in the band. Adding three new musicians to the fray, the band strips their sound to its raw, technical essence on “I Am.” Their last album, “Celestial Completion,” was boggled by sitar interludes, operatic female vocals, and seven-minute diatribes that all took away from the power of their past material. That power returns in greater increments on “I Am,” which is as straightforward as the band has ever been with their songwriting.

This mindset plays into the brevity that many of these songs fall under. There is no wiggle room, a longing for sheer hatred and tainted refuge its prime motivators. Conciseness has been one of the previous pitfalls to the band, but that is hardly a feasible concern on “I Am.” These songs come out like a subway train on fire, and they scorch the ground, leaving an ashy trails to cloud the air. It’s not entirely a new approach, but feels significant in the band’s overall timeline.

There is more of a groove to their music, but this isn’t a faux attempt at being the next Periphery or Meshuggah, thankfully; just a stylistic choice to inject a heavier fix on the music. The technical proficiency, especially in the guitar department, has not been swept aside. Hecox and second guitarist Daniel Gailey pull out every trick they know to crawl and screech out vivid leads.

There are hints of the same band that wrote “Termination Damnation” in “I Am,” though of course with only one member from that line-up still hanging around. “The Machine Killer” goes all electronic on the instrumental format, boops and beeps fixed along a snazzy piano line. The title track harkens to the band’s symphonic influences, with a grandiose introduction that does justice to the bout of aggression that follows it some minutes later. A soulful guitar break puts some heart into the otherwise-ruthless “The Sky Bearer.”

“I Am” feels more in tune when the band attempts to reconcile the past with the future. It’s a nice jolt to hear them ignore the urge for pronounced melodic sensibility on “The Ocean Walker” and “The Eyes Of The Storm,” but it doesn’t work as well later on with songs like “The Weapon Breaker,” which takes over a minute to fade out without much of a payoff. Fading a track out can be effective, but not in this song’s case. The songs between this one and the stellar title track are also hit-or-miss, passing by in three minutes each and using brief instances of average melodic vocals.

Hecox took another line-up change as a means to transform Becoming The Archetype into the ravenous metal group that was always lying under the surface. “I Am” is direct in its impact, which may sway fans who enjoyed the subtle melodic accompaniment that defined the first few albums. The band pulls off the frantic songs well, but, whether intentional or not, they seem more poised when they incorporate melodic elements. “I Am” is a quaint new chapter for the band, one that will hopefully have the benefit of a stable group surrounding Hecox.

Highs: New, more aggressive direction for the band, guitar work continues to excel, the brief melodic touches are appropriate whenever used

Lows: Clean vocals don't impress, latter half has some forgettable tunes

Bottom line: "I Am" is Becoming The Archetype's most ruthless album to date, though not without the progressive influences that defined their earlier work.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)