“I’ve been wandering how did I get here, I’m so far away from who you thought I’d be“
In 2015, Ohio band Affiance started a campaign to independently fund its new EP. Gaia is the result of this successful call to arms and it eats away at your ears and soul with its wounded power and evocative cadence.
I make no bones about it, I rate this band mega highly and they are great musicians with a unique world view…Absolutely the masters of the metalcore genre, well above big hitters such as Killswitch Engage and August Burns Red and you can take that to the bank!
The seven tracks here demonstrate their ability to bring tunefulness and aggression together with a measure of theatre and soulfulness that no other current band can match. Affiance are made up of two very gifted guitar players in Brett Wondrak and Dominic Dickinson, along with Patrick Galante on pounding blast beat drums and the amazing Dennis Tvrdik on vocals.
The music ebbs and flows wonderfully, mixing screaming vocals to delicate harmonies and crunching riffing to thoughtful acoustica. “Reboot“ opens proceedings with its staccato guitaring and marching drums. It gives a chilling warning with the lines “I no longer believe we are in control of this/The machine calculating our death“. This is a constant in the whole of the EP in terms of fantastic lyrics, which read like poetry. This is a calling for our lost humanity and it really is powerful.
More riff-o-rama follows with “Gaia” asking questions about the survival of the human race and looking at Earth as the mother figure. “Gaia” has chest-beating singing from Dennis and the guitar interplay is a real treat. Certainly, this is a highlight of the EP.
“Hollow Empire” mashes up the hardest hardcore with a great sung chorus, once again chewing up the social scenery and railing against injustice.
“Knowing” is the surprise song with its glorious Def Leppard-esque start and growling menace, which then turns into an aching call to understand why and how we get to this moment. The melody and vocals are beautiful and again the soul of the band is exposed with its refrain of “Knowing who I am, Afraid of who I’m not!” adding a touching vulnerability. The outro is also superb, bringing to mind some vintage 80’s pop!
“Crusader” is the hardcore song that harks to a Lamb Of God sound, or possibly System Of A Down at their most brutal. It is a strong song, but probably my least favourite of the EP.
The best song has to be “Prsvr” with overt undertones of electronic pop band Depeche Mode. This song builds into the lines “You’ll never get this far until you fight, and if you are broken, start picking up your pieces and rebuild again“. The track courses with intent and positivity in the face of adversity. The drumming is excellent by Galante, as it is throughout the collection.
The EP rounds out with “Exist” and this is a throwback to earlier albums with the angular playing and big chorus. It is catchy and thoughtful in equal measure, with another masterful vocal display from Tvrdik and guitars to wail away to in the wee small hours.
I truly believe that this band is the best Metalcore band in the world. Give them a try and, if you like them too, be sure to tell them who sent you! Gaia is excellent and should be heard by everyone. Amazing what can be accomplished if you “Prsvr”.