Coming into AFFIANCE’S third album Blackout I still wasn’t quite sure how I felt about them. I mean sure, they’ve got talent in spades, and their songs have some good hooks, but never was there really enough on a record for me to get excited about…till now. This is definitely a case of third time’s a charm, because at times this sounds like a completely different band; not that they were a bad one before, mind you. Everything just seems more focused and polished without being TOO polished. Even Dennis Tvrdik’s vocals feel like more of a natural fit this time around. And thankfully the breakdowns are kept to a minimum and the dual harmonized guitars are at the forefront.
First things that really grabbed my attention were the title track, “Monuments Fail” with its bull-in-a-china-shop beginning and peppering of blast beats, and “In Justice” the song EVERYONE is talking about, with good reason. From start to finish this is not only my favorite song on Blackout, but possibly the band’s whole catalogue up to this point. If you’re a headbanger this one will wreck your neck for sure. “Brothers” is another one that emphasizes balls over flash but still showcases everyone’s abilities nicely. And the chorus is, dare I say it, pretty. That’s a compliment, trust me. And once again, the guitars are pretty fucking badass on this one.
If you’re looking for that “crank it up in the car” song then “Limitless” along with “Justice” would be the one. Here the breakdowns fit the song and overall aesthetic. I know that AFFIANCE are widely considered metalcore, but this record sees them taking several large steps away from that oft-maligned genre. It’s a change I’m happy to see them make. Really the most core-like song is the opener “Fire!” which, coincidence or not, was one of my least favorites. ”Darkest” sees the guys once again employing severe guitar harmonies once again and “Death Cycle” proves to be another favorite for the rapid-fire pummeling of the rhythm section as well as the infectious melodies.
I have to say I was mighty impressed with “No Peace”, a tale of two halves of a song. For the first 1:30 it is atmospheric and anguished, and then everyone slams in like a battering ram. Closing the record out is “Midnight” which is yet another winner on a record that is just full of them. All told AFFIANCE have put out something that should garner them a lot more fans without alienating the old ones. Blackout is out now via Bullet Tooth. This one is definitely worth some listens.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “In Justice”, “Death Cycle”, “Midnight’, “Limitless”, “No Peace”