The album starts mercilessly with “Reboot,” a song accompanied with a music video that effectively articulates the corruption of government through the juxtaposition of violence and torture with media coverage.
Starting with a muted guitar riff, it’s as if Affiance is lying, persuading listeners to think the song might stay quiet. Of course, the volume increases, the drums kick in, and the speakers are exploding from the bass strikes. A few more seconds and the drums pick up a punk beat, pushing forward, urgency filling the sound as lead singer Dennis Tvrdik introduces his operatic voice, proclaiming, “I no longer believe we’re in control of this. The machine [is] calculating our death.”
“Reboot” continues and I find myself compelled to move with the bass line; it becomes impossible to resist. Affiance’s music walks in and dominates; nothing else is relevant when it begins to play.
Probably the most brilliant part of the song is actually the ending, where Tvrdik sings, “This was not built to last. THIS WAS DESIGNED TO COLLAPSE!” Immediately, abruptly, the instrumentals cut off, mirroring the lyrics perfectly.
Gaia in Greek mythology was the deity that embodied Earth, and in this track, Tvrdik sings, “Mother Earth, she weeps tonight,” harkening back to the eponymous goddess of the track. “How can we live while she dies?” he asks, forcing listeners to simultaneously consider man’s destruction of Earth while head banging—a serious multitasking feat.
“Hollow Empire” is filled with a considerable amount of screaming, but Affiance goes about sreamo in a careful and artistic way—there is never a growl misplaced or a howl misused.
At around 2:38, Dickinson plays a chromatic cascade down the range of the guitar that lands in the booms of the bass drum and Tvrdik proclaiming, “THERE’S NO FUTURE HERE! THESE LIES WILL STAND NO LONGER! BRING OUR FUCKING JUSTICE!”
After those livid screams, Affiance plunges into the classic metalcore sound—a thunderous bass rhythm topped with drum fills and a repeated guitar riff.
The sonorous line from the guitar that opens “Knowing” lays the bedding for the vocals and continues as a quiet, ceaseless, and beautiful background for much of the song.
“Knowing” features Tvrdik’s enchanting singing, finally acquainting the audience with his vocal power unequalled in all of metal.
We all know those balladic guitar solos that are so melodious, so beautiful, so perfect within the mood that we can listen to them over and over and we’ll never tire. You may be thinking of any number of famous solos, but once you hear “Knowing,” Dickinson’s solo will be the one that you remember.
The last thirty seconds of the song consists of synthesizer chords and beats, a peaceful ending to Affiance’s one and only ballad.
“Crusader” begins with a brief prologue of ambient noise before Tvrdik releases a guttural scream from deep within, unleashing a growl so violent that my own vocal chords hurt from listening to it.
The song contains an odd period where a radio-style recording plays over instrumentals, which serves as a slight break from the screaming, pounding bass, and electrifying guitar solos that comprise Affiance’s most furious track.
At 1:20, Affiance tries on a new hat, switching to the fast-tempo metalcore technique driven by drums and paired with quick, screamed lyrics. Although this style is normal for metalcore bands, this is a first for Affiance, and they pull it off better than any other group did before or will after.
The rhythmic quality of the chorus captivates the listener—often I become so engrossed in the music that I don’t realize I’m headbanging and singing aloud until all the heads in the room are already turned my way.
“PRSVR” ends in reverse of the beginning. A loud scream and then Dickinson playing a beautiful line that fades into nothingness.
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A sizable chunk of the track consists of an instrumental section with a personal speaking over the top. “There comes a time in everyone’s life,” says the metallic voice, “where we must question everything we think we know and understand about ourselves and the world around us.”
When the voice cuts off, an echo hangs over the clean rhythm of the guitar, bass, and drums. The song carries on, and in the last minute or so, a sparing use of synthesizer toys with the time, rhythm, and sound and manipulates dynamic swells up to the end, where I cry because there’s not more Affiance left for me to listen to.