To begin this post, I feel the need to remind anyone reading that I still don't know anything about metal (I blame Brendon Small, since he hasn't called about the babysitting gig I offered him and/or taught me how to play metal guitar and/or moved in to our spare room, where we keep confiscated toys, houseplants, fermenting cider, and hopefully someday the man himself). My appreciation of the genre continues to deepen, however, especially when I hear records like this.
Affiance was formed in Cleveland, Ohio in 2007, and according to their Facebook page, they "love food, fun, competition, and freedom!" They are best known for the vocal range of lead singer Dennis Tvrdik (whose style, on rare occasions, reminds me of Brandon Boyd, the lead singer of Incubus), as well as their political and religious lyrics, which Tvrdik describes thusly in a quote on their MySpace page: "We are a band that strongly believes in the pursuit of truth and happiness. In order to achieve these ideals we must delve into concepts and that we often don't want to think about. We hope that through our music we can inspire people to think for themselves and be pro-active in society". Although I poked around a bit trying to find a more complete explanation of how they believe a person should pursue "truth and happiness" and be "pro-active in society", I was unable to find anything specific, and unfortunately, the song lyrics themselves are also too vague for me to get a clear idea of their standpoint. Therefore, it's equally likely that these guys might be Ron Swanson-style Libertarians or politically-staunch-but-flip-floppy musicians à la Gene Simmons; either way, however, I don't really care. What I TRULY care about is the fact that Tvrdik loves cottage cheese, as evidenced by the following South African interview (it's in English, and a cartoon!). Wait, no, that's not right. Maybe it's the music that matters?
Oh right, the music. Like I said, I don't know much about metal, so I can't give you a fancy description of why this record rocks, unless "I liked that thar music" counts. But I did like that thar music, from goofy-introed but chugging first track "Kings of Deceipt" to metal ballad "Threshold", and everything in between. And although I have neither the space nor the skill to describe each track individually (unless "wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-wah-nu-nu-nu-nu-BA-BA-DA-BA-DA-BA-DA-nu-nu-nu" counts as a description, in which case, DONE!), I can say that, throughout the album, each song's average remains high, with music that is hard, melodic, and extraordinarily prone to change, morphing from one metal guitar riff to another deftly (and from one furious drum sequence to the next without batting an eye). The standout of the album is "You Will Be Replaced" (lyrics include "It seems the walls are closing in/The clock defeats another day/With each step we're pushing forth/This is the only way"), a chameleon track whose ever-changing musicality and dashes of metal-voice make it a pretty interesting listen. Or as Tvrdik himself says, "Cottage cheese is low in fat, high in protein. It's delicious." Word.