Seth Hecox guitar, keyboard, vocals | Daniel Gailey guitar, vocals | Chris McCane vocals
Chris Heaton drums | Codey Watkins bass
On their lauded 2011 album, Celestial Completion, metal misfits BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE did exactly what they do best - push the boundaries of what metal music is and can be, spit in the face of convention and completely melt faces with ferocious, relentlessly creative and breathtakingly risky prog and death metal orchestrations.
Armed with what Metal Hammer called "massive songs, massive ideas and a massive array of instruments," the Atlanta, Georgia outfit has forged a cottage industry out of defying musical expectations, pushing heavy music to its breaking point with horns, Middle Eastern sitar, choirs of sopranos and bone-crushingly heavy riffage. Suffice it to say - with four full-length albums under their belt, the now veteran act have truly mastered the art of throwing curveballs.
Now, with the metal world on the lookout for another backdoor slider, BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE are winding up with their best pitch yet - a fastball right down the heart of the plate.
The band's fifth full-length, I AM, is baffling first and foremost because it's not meant to be baffling. As guitarist, mastermind and band nucleus Seth Hecox explains, the album is less about reinventing heavy music than it is reinventing BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE. That's not to say listeners won't find the band doing its usual mind-warping and genre-bending, but the point of this album wasn't to transcend the artform of metal music, it was to master it.
"I AM is 100% head banging riffs," Hecox says. "Gone are the sitars and horns of Celestial Completion. Instead, we've crafted an album full of the heaviest and most technical songs we've ever written."
"Pushing the limits is usually a goal of ours, but on I AM, we really focused on how well the songs flowed and kept your attention. I think we nailed it completely," he adds. "I do think we pushed the boundaries in the sense of having a new sound. It's new, it's heavy and it's like nothing I've ever heard before."
Lyrically, the album addresses the band's penchant for spirituality - this time in stunning mythological terms. Written in the first person, the album recounts superhuman feats of a character who was himself truly superhuman through vignettes in song form, with titles including "The Sun Eater," "The Time Bender" and "The Ocean Walker."
Recorded with producer Shane Frisby (BURY YOUR DEAD, THE GHOST INSIDE), I AM, as the title suggests, is also a statement of an album that puts a new stamp on who BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE is and what it stands for following an inter-band shakeup - one that cleared the path for Hecox to assemble a true dream team of musicians around him.
"All the members of the band now are the best I could have for what we're doing. It's kind of an All Star lineup that people will realize is something special," he says of his bandmates, clearly relishing the idea of releasing the new material. "When they hear I AM, people are going to realize our new vocalist Chris McCane is a beast. They're going to hear a younger, hungrier band. It will change the way people think about us and look at us as a musical entity. Old fans and new listeners alike will be forced to alter their perspective of who BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE is."
After seven years and four acclaimed albums with longtime label Solid State Records, BECOMING THE ARCHETYPE is in the unique situation of being an accomplished veteran band with a roster comprised largely of young, hungry, wildly talented musicians poised for their first real test on the national front. It's a fact that isn't lost on Hecox, who is embracing this perceived new lease on life as an opportunity to both reinvigorate the band's wide fan base and tap into a huge crosssection of metal fans who previously might have balked at BTA's unbridled, manic creativity.
"In a sense, we are a brand new band," Hecox says plainly. "If some previously unsigned band named, I dunno, BAZOOKA TOOTH came out with this album, they'd blow up immediately. So the question is, will people come to the table with open ears and open hearts? If so, BTA will conquer the metal world."
"I totally believe it's possible," he says, "and this album will be an explosion to start that process." And when that explosion happens, the doubters can't say they weren't warned.