Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Afflicted - Prodigal Sun (1992)

Apparently this band Afflicted was promoted by Nuclear Blast like the next big thing back in 1992.... and the hype backfired so catastrophically that today, few people know that Afflicted even existed. It's is basically a much weirder version of early 1990s Swedish death metal, if much closer to the first death metal records back from the eighties but also unusually complex. There's some rather unlikely influences ranging from Arabic folk music to the heavy blues-rock metal evolved from, but they don't feel jarring. The rather dry-sounding production has the bass much higher in the mix than usual for the genre, as it's far more active than usual for the genre - there's a lot of interaction between bass and guitars. The individual songs are quite varied. Some are rather internally fluid in their progressions with the individual riffs slowly and progressively changing in texture, others containing much more dramatic developments. Completely abrupt ones mostly appear in only one song, "Astray". A few leitmotifs in the forms of specific riffs or lead breaks keep the album coherent. As for cases when comparing specific songs... "Tidings from the Blue Sphere" is a good example - it seems to be anticlimactic by design, with the occasional outburst of energy, giving the whole thing a tragic but far from lifeless expression. The following song "The Empty Word" feels more like an unpredictable whirlwind. In fact, the songwriting on this album is overall very unpredictable by design and somehow manages to pull it off correctly. Except for two songs being more spiritually oriented, the lyrics here are more overtly political than usual for the genre, full of criticism of contemporary civilization. The subversive vitriol shows in the music too, so nobody can accuse this of sacrificing attitude for complexity like much tech-death is criticized for - making it a very good example of how to do this style. Definitely recommended.