The multinational progressive metal act Affector certainly made a startling entrance to the prog metal scene last year. Their debut, Harmagedon, told the story of the literal Biblical apocalypse, and several prolific musicians lent their talent to the release to muster up some interest. It made quite a splash--but the substance didn't quite live up to the promise, sadly.
Affector want to go for that lightly-symphonic prog sound that Symphony X and Kalisia have in the bag--the problem is that they don't do much else. Frankly speaking their compositions just aren't that interesting; Harmagedon sounds like every other symphonic prog album, and nothing about it is noteworthy or distinguishable. Affector mostly play to the tropes of the genre note-for-note, and the result is an album that is both unsurprising and predictable. Any progressive fan listening to this album for the first time would be frankly impressed with how easily they could predict the song structures as the music went along.
And even a slew of awesome guest keyboardists can't make this album any good, and that's impressive, considering that Affector bring in big names like Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, Dixie Dregs), Neal Morse (Spock's Beard, Transantlantic), Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Planet X), and Alex Argento (a damn prolific session musician). Though their guest keyboard solos tend to be pretty damn awesome (Jordan's in particular), the music that frames them almost doesn't make them worth getting to.
A few tracks like the closer "New Jerusalem" actually flirt with originality, but Affector's desire not to let experimentation taint their music means that whatever novel moments do pop up tend to be more from coincidence or chance than actual intention. And the longer tracks like "The Rapture" that just have nothing new to say at all are truly a test of endurance to get through.
Also, I cannot get over just how plain old insipid some of the choices on this album were, like having the first two tracks titled "Overture Pt. 1: Introduction" and "Overture Pt. 2: Prologue". The sheer pretentiousness of this seriously made me want to smack my head into a desk--but not nearly as much as the choice lyrics of "Harmagedon", which includes the phrase, I shit you not, "flames of fire".
All in all, Harmagedon is just a regurgitation of familiar prog tropes without anything of real interest or merit to it. It's not a bad album to listen to, but it does leave you unfulfilled and unimpressed. Affector set out to make a progressive metal album, and that's just about the only thing they accomplished here.
Recommended if you like: Symphony X, Epica, Sun Caged
3.0 / 10
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