For all of the Toby Knapp projects I’ve heard over the years from his misguided neoclassical shred albums to his awkward and wild black metal band Waxen, Affliktor is probably his best music to date. For all of the odd vocal effects and wailing solos this album features some heavy black/thrash metal songs offset by some blackened heavy metal tracks. The most effective moment for me has to be the early 00’s groove/thrash riff that starts off “Storms of the Demogorgon” and quickly gives way to the rest of the Absu-styled high speed technical thrash song. My major issue with this debut is that it feels more like a demo that needed a producer’s touch in creating variation within the core sound of ‘Affliktor’.
Knapp’s croaking, reverb and echo heavy vocals seem tweaked to give the production depth but instead they pile muddy noise on top of otherwise interesting rock solos and death/thrash influenced drum and guitar dynamics that are largely inspired. I would like this issue with The Wakedead Gathering and how his project didn’t really sound “professional” until he’d gotten a few other musicians to toss in their two cents on the compositions. “Impressive for a one man band” is no longer a thing anymore and hasn’t been for nearly two decades in a world well-soaked with bedroom projects that are incredibly high caliber.
The drum patterns here, which sound programmed, can’t seem to decide if they’re going for the precision of technical death/thrash or raw and filthy black thrash and I think that is the heart of why I can’t fully warm up to Affliktor on his debut. It all feels like a 00’s groove metal band trying to sound like Absu, and I’ll admit that feeling largely comes from the programmed feeling the album has. I really don’t want to discount the quality of the riffs found on this album and have to say tracks like “Burn the Earth” and “Chaos Magick Totality” are real bullet-belted butt shredders full of awesome guitar riffs and a good mix of lead guitar styles. For all the points he’s lost with me for execution most of that is made up with a wealth of good black/thrash ideas that will surely improve even more on further releases. If nothing else this debut is an excellent proof of concept for Knapp’s ability to piece together a solid blackened thrash metal album from start to finish.
|Released||October 20, 2017|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Affliktor on Facebook|
Breeding just to breathe. 2.65/5.0
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