Affinity album review

Inside Out Music

Inside Out Music

I’d like to start out by saying that while I do listen to music across different genres, I have never particularly liked progressive metal, but I figured I should try something new after all of the indie/alternative albums I’ve reviewed.

Just as all bands meet, Haken was formed in 2007 when former To-Mera guitarist Richard Henshall and his high school friends Ross Jennings and Matthew Marshall got together and decided to play metal. They later met keyboardist Peter Jones and drummer Raymond Hearne in an online forum thus forming their band. Jones and Marshall ended up leaving the band in 2008 and were replaced by Charlie Griffiths and Diego Tejeida.

The band went on to make three albums and a really long EP which now brings us to their fourth album, Affinity. The album starts out with a minute-and-a-half instrumental titled “Affinity.exe” featuring mostly sound files and ambient electronic noises which is not what I thought any metal album would start. The metal aspect of the album came through in the following 40 minutes of music with driving guitar chops and 3-minute long solos accompanied by drums that oscillate between grooves that could have been created by a three year old and some of the most complex beats I’ve ever heard.

After my stereotypical expectation of metal was fulfilled by this album’s first six songs, the tracks “Earthrise” and “Red Giant” were refreshing, with more synthesizer driven music and non-screamo lyrics. This, overall, brought a kind of musicality back into the picture that had been covered up by all of the craziness at the beginning of the album.

While Affinity is decent musically, the lyrics are a different story. According to an interview with Jennings, the lyrics are based on the 80s and the controversial discussions and ideas that are attributed to the decade. Initially, the lyrics seemed to follow that idea since I really couldn’t understand any of the screamo or drowned-out-by-the-guitars lyrics; so I naturally assumed that held true until I ventured away from my normal lyrics source and found the deep, dark metal lyrics site that holds Haken’s words. How wrong I was. Sure, the lyrics kind of start with technology-based themes, but then take and twist and contort them into the stereotyped metal lyrics that question the very basis of our existence such as “My first step / Was undertaken aimlessly Yet I arrive As if I’m meant to be” from “1985” or “Collapsing pillars of the earth / A march of progress in reverse / Blood fills my lifeless heart / Eyes flicker in the dark.” From “Earthrise,” and doing that over and over and over is mental torture by the end of reading all of the lyrics. By doing that, the band fell into a hole since they are supposed to be progressive metal and they’ve played into what I see as generic metal music similar to that of Metallica, Iron Maiden or Slayer. At least from a lyrical standpoint anyway.

Aside from that, the album is mediocre at best. That might just be my alternative taste talking, but the album doesn’t really move past what I see the rest of the metal genre existing as in a musical or lyrical sense thus defeating the idea of ‘progressive metal’.

The Parkway West Pathfinder gives “Affinity” a 6.2/10.