Originally written by Erik Thomas
If you were to put me on the spot and tell me to name one single Christian metal band that most typically angry non-Christian metalheads would tolerate, it would have to be Becoming the Archetype. (It would have been The Showdown based on their debut alone.) Throughout their first three, consistently quality albums, they have delivered an impressive, intelligent mix of metalcore, death metal and progressive metal that’s never too preachy and always manages to be engaging and skillful. And while the band’s fourth album sees that trend continue, Becoming the Archetype seems to have forsaken some of their heaviness in favor of becoming even more experimental and progressive.
Once again graced by Dan Seagrave cover art, the album stumbles out of the gate (after the promising orchestral / choral intro of “The Frequency of Flesh”) with a couple of tracks of pretty standard modern metal, including more clean vocals and keyboards — it’s more Demon Hunter than death metal, and while hefty and well constructed, it’s frankly a bit underwhelming.
The fourth track, “Path of the Beam”, shows signs of more direct death and black metal injections, especially vocally, but it’s after the instrumental “Spheres” Requiem Aeternam pt1” — the first part of a trilogy — that the album really starts to shine. The eight-minute centerpiece “Elemental Wrath: Requiem Aeternam pt 2” is where the band and album really kicks into high gear: a thick 70s doom groove, some fierce shreddage, Hammond organs, a dreamy acoustic/piano mid-section that segues into part 3 “”Xenosynthesis”, a short but incredibly epic track with a simply stunning choir- and orchestra-backed blast that has to be the album’s standout. I just wish it was longer.
The album’s other standout comes after yet another interlude by way of “Cardiac Rebellion”, a track sure to divide fans of the band and fans in general. After its chunky opening lurch, the song takes an eyebrow-raising tangent about a third of the way through into this full-on jazz / swing number complete with brass band and gang chants. I personally thought it was pretty awesome, and a bold risk, but I can see how most metalheads and maybe even die-hard fans of the band could hate it. The closing duo of “Reflect/Refract” and “Breathing Light” are tracks more in line with the band’s back catalog, a sort of Unearth-meets-Opeth combo, though some (myself included) may see the ‘oooooohs’ that start and end “Breathing Light” as a little too commercial, but it ends the album fittingly.
Ultimately though, I have to say that Celestial Completion is actually a bit of a step back from their previous efforts that garnered so much respect within the non-Christian metal hordes. It’s the kind of album that will only strengthen anti-Christian sentiments among metalheads — it’s far cleaner, more experimental, has a couple of huge musical bulls-eye moments and it’s less metal then their last efforts. And, while to some (myself included) that’s a boon, it still puts them squarely in the pot of other Christian metal acts, rather than standing out as they did previously.