Afflicted – Prodigal Sun – 4.5/5
Alright, this one has been on my “to-do” list for far too long. Before I started my project on women of metal in fact. I listened to it, forgot about it, wrote my project, remembered it, forgot about it again, was reminded about it once more by Julian Chan and here I am. This is one that I’m not sure why its taken so long, its hardly a bad album. Actually, it’s a bloody good one, and one any fan of - particularly Old School - Death Metal needs to have in their collection.
Now, describing their sound is not exactly the easiest thing to do. Certainly the main body is that old school crunchy death metal tone, with a decent helping of technical metal, though it doesn’t feel like it. A lot of modern Tech bands get bogged down in sounding more technical than before; not here. Its fluid, seamless, and used in a way to make them sound unique rather than another avenue to prove just how quickly they can wank that guitar.
But more than that are the variety of subtle influences that make themselves known, the very Egyptian toned introduction, the almost jazzy toned interludes in ‘Rising to the Sun,’ the blues/rock sounding riffs in ‘Tidings from the Blue Sphere,” the quick, almost hardcore punkish outbursts in ‘The empty word,’ or the apocalyptic doom-filled atmosphere in ‘The Doomwatchers Perdiction,’ it all serves to create an album that is damn near impossible to predict. It adds an element of uncertainty, as it can change in tone and atmosphere at any moment, creating a tension that is not easy to find.
The drumming is complex and well performed, as is a must in any technical metal, and the vocals with a mid-ranged growl feel punchy and almost hardcore in the way they are presented, serve well at assisting the frequently chaotic atmosphere created. The guitars – the bass making a notable contribution, which I like to hear – whilst not masters of any particular style, are incredibly adept at a large array of tones, and are the driving force behind the chaotic atmosphere that is so critical, and that for me is far more important than simply how fast someone can sweep or tap.
The production holds this album back only slightly, not matching current standards but detracting little from the sound. Everything can be heard, if perhaps not as crisp as I would like. This is not an album for everybody. Tech metal is not the easiest of genre’s to enjoy, the lack of a regular structure and frequent shifts in tempo and styles will no doubt be off-putting to many, regardless how well done they are. This album, however, is more than worth your time, even if to simply discover what forgotten gems there are that you may have missed.
Highlights: Harbouring the Soul, Astray, Rising to the Sun
By T. Bawden