ALBUM REVIEW – “Blackout” by Affiance

Thank goodness non-ironic power metalcore is a thing. Where would the world be without bands that combined face melting solos, stratospheric vocal melodies, lots of references to fighting/fire/badass things/emotional turmoil….and breakdowns? Too many bands take themselves way too seriously nowadays, eschewing talent for effort towards their image.

Enter Cleveland Ohio’s Affiance, and their latest effort Blackout. If you are looking for a seriously high quality record windmill headbang your brain out your ears to, this is it. Affiance just knows how to put together songs that go from thrash metal romps to epic choruses to pounding. They go from the circle pit to the fist pump to throwing down in all matters of combinations, and totally effortlessly at that.

Blackout just feels so smoothly and naturally put together, Affiance are totally in their element, writing the music they want to write, having no issues showing their skills and blowing giant middle fingers at genre standards. If As I Lay Dying and Edguy had a baby and nursed it on Red Bull, it would probably sound like the opening section of “In Justice”. Really the ENTIRE song continues this “giant pool of testosterone and anthemic workout fuel” formula, but you get the point.

The group has no problem dropping bits of completely silly writing into songs, just to throw listeners through a loop. Take the intro to “Limitless” and that stupidly cool opening groove that collapses into a pinch and bend laced opening solo. This album is a dark one, overall, especially as far as the lyrics are concerned, but it’s also incredibly fun to listen to.

Even the panic filled “Brothers”, probably the most somber song here, can’t escape Affiance’s true nature, what with that high strung shredfest that is the closing minute. There are simply way too many achingly good combinations of modern heaviness with old school simplicity, think of the Trivium that made Ascendancy and how bold and technical that was, and the sort of greatness of Blackout belongs to will make more sense .

Affiance obviously really really really like guitar harmonies, to the degree that they sometimes get used in locations that the band-short of using a backing track or a harmonic pedal-could never fully replicate live. Giving themselves a third guitarist in the studio is sonically a neat trick and adds some sweet flavor to sections of songs; but overuse of them puts an artificial sheen on this album thats difficult to see past sometimes because it’s just so distracting.

Maybe listeners will care about this sort of trickery, maybe they won’t, it doesn’t change the fact that Blackout is an awesome record. Not just “cool this album is really good” awesome, the kind of awesome you say sounding like Wayne Campbell. It’s fun, brutal, musically incredibly solid,  and a needed addition to any respectable metalhead’s record collection.

9/10

Max Robison

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