The “classic” Becoming the Archetype lineup of Jason Wisdom, Seth Hecox, and Brent “Duck” Duckett return after more than 10 years apart to deliver a heavy progressive death metal album filled not only with everything one would expect but also a few surprises.
Ever since their debut album, Terminate Damnation, in 2005, Becoming the Archetype have maintained and expanded their base of followers who have appreciate their unique blend of technical, progressive, and death metal. The Physics of Fire followed in 2007 and Dichotomy in 2008 where Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad) produced and guested as well as Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter. Over the years, the band toured with the likes of Parkway Drive, August Burns Red, Zao, the Chariot and others solidifying their audience. In 2011, the band partnered with producer Matt Goldman (Underoath, The Chariot) for the experimental Celestial Completion which even featured a ska –like trombone part in one track. That album saw the departure of founding members Brent “Duck” Duckett and Jason Wisdom until a reunion in 2020 when the band began writing Children of the Great Extinction which eventually was produced by Nate Washburn (My Epic) and saw guest appearances by former guitarists Daniel Gailey (Phineas, Fit for a King) and Alex Kenis (Alethian) providing solos on “The Lost Colony” and “The Calling”, respectively.
The album opens up with “The Dead World” and has multiple guitars layered into a central riff that builds and eventually ends with Jason Wisdom’s shouted vocals coming in and the verse section taking off. Drummer Brent “Duck” Duckett gets a bit of a speed workout for much of the song alternating with the slower chorus sections and combined with Seth Hecox guitar, keyboard elements and clean vocals, the song itself fits well within the BTA catalog. I especially like the ending with the somewhat strangled guitar in the outro.
I have to admit, when I first heard that Becoming the Archetype was getting back together, “The Lost Colony” was exactly what I was hoping for. Without knowing anything about the people involved, I immediately picked out the solo by Daniel Gailey (Phineas, Fit for a King) in the track which was a nice surprise. The song itself starts out with a pummeling riff which leads into a bass and drum driven verse section with Jason Wisdom’s trademark gravelly shouted vocals sounding much like something straight off Dichotomy, which is impressive when you think about that album coming out 14 years ago. The backing vocals and clean chorus work perfectly within the track.
As the first part of the concept album unfold, the songs all fit within what one would expect and hope to hear from the reunited band. There are definitely some unexpected twists and turns along the way, like the piano-driven chorus in otherwise very heavy song “The Remnant” or the keyboard and piano driven opening in “The Calling” which features and explosive shift from quiet lone piano to full on fast death metal and near blast beat drumming.
Halfway through the tracks, the band gives the listener a bit of a respite with a quiet interlude featuring acoustic guitar, orchestral elements, and atmospheric keyboards, which does provide a nice break and seems to continue with the Eastern-tinged sounds that open “The Awakening” and have the listener wondering where things are headed. That question is answered rather quickly when the sounds shift back to a heavy doom-like riff that provide a transition into the rest of the track where Jason Wisdom’s voices shift even lower and darker and approaching guttural growls. Throughout all the twists and turns of the song on the album, the musicianship and extra elements added by Seth Hecox and Brent Duckett, really make this a listening experience and this track in particular is a good example that may take a few listens to appreciate everything going on.
“The Ruins” is another track on the album that starts out a bit like what would be expected from BTA but goes in a different direction when the verses start and here again a guest musician, Ryan Clark (Demon Hunter), is used perfectly as a new element in the song which seems like it was written with him in mind as it works so well. The quieter sections with the intricate percussion patterns, layered clean chorus and growled vocals are arranged such that every element comes through cleanly and despite the differences, do blend well, showcasing the creativity.
The album closes out with “The Sacrament” an ambitious track over 8 minutes in length, that gives the band plenty of time and space to explore several different styles and elements without trying to force them together. At times heavy and driving, while in others quieter and melodic with atmospheric keyboards and what could be a string section, the song has much of what you would expect, but then again the piano and clean chorus with Wisdom’s bass in the background is something completely unexpected but at the same time, welcome.
Becoming the Archetype have what many metal listeners consider a long and storied history with different factions of their fan base choosing different albums from their catalog as the best of the band. Myself, I choose Dichotomy and the more experimental Celestial Completion as my favorites. The more I listen to Children of the Great Extinction, the more I hear elements from all their previous releases often mixed within a single track. As a result BTA have given the long time fan a lot to appreciate and given new listeners a great introduction to one of the most creative metal bands.
Written by John Jackson
1. The Dead World
2. The Lost Colony
3. The Remnant
4. The Calling
5. The Phantom Field
6. The Awakening
7. The Hollow
8. The Ruins (feat Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter)
9. The Curse
10. The Sacrament
Release Date: August 26th. 2022
Record Label: Solid State Records
Jason Wisdom – vocals, bass
Seth Hecox – guitars, keyboards, vocals
Brent “Duck” Duckett – drums
Video for ‘The Remnant’
Video for ‘The Lost Colony’
Visualizer video for ‘The Calling’