Monday, 11 June 2012

AFFLICTED - Prodigal Sun (1992)


01  Prodigal Sun
02  Harbouring The Soul
03  In Years To Come
04  Tidings From The Blue Sphere
05  The Empty Word
06  Astray
07  Rising To The Sun
08  Spirit Spectrum
09  The Doomwatcher's Prediction
10  Consumed In Flames
11  Ivory Tower

Afflicted was a technical death metal band from Stockholm, Sweden, that formed in 1988 and disbanded in 1995. They were an important and influential part of the early Swedish death metal scene, though they were overshadowed by better-known bands like Entombed and Dismember. Afflicted originally formed under the name Afflicted Convulsion. The decision to drop the word "Convulsion" from the band name was taken once vocalist Joakim Bröms had joined. Afflicted Convulsion had been formed out of the ruins of a thrash band called "Defiance" and released one official rehearsal tape and two demos under this name. The band defines their sound as "Psychodelic Ultraviolent Heavy Grindcore". 'Prodigal Sun' is the band's first album, released by Nuclear Blast Records on 1st December 1992.

Afflicted showed on their debut here that they could more than hold their own, their brand of death metal full of technical prowess and brutality, 'Prodigal Sun' is a solid display of tunes that remains to this day their best known album. Plenty of thrashy riffs, pummeling drum work, and snarling growls abound on this one, the guitar team of Jesper Thorsson & Joacim Carlsson especially doing a fine job churning out monstrous riffs and frenzied solos. Drummer Yasim Hillborg's non-stop double bass drum assualt also is quite impressive, as he blasts away on tunes like "In Years to Come" and "Harbouring the Soul" with reckless precision.

There are a few bass lines here and there, especially in the instrumental sections, but for the most part, it just provides backing. Because of the extremely muddy production, it's hard to hear it most of the time, so I can't really tell how big of a role it plays. When it's audible, it's usually quite a nice touch, but the music doesn't feel empty or one-dimensional when it's not there. The lyrics are probably the most impressive part of the record. It might or might not be a concept album, but there are two general themes and every song deals with at least one of them in some way. One is the question of the meaning of life and the rejection of their possible answers, including mysticism and religion (in a strange contrast to this, "Rising to the Sun" offers a clearly positive view on paganism, but I think they're talking more about the cultural and less about the religious concept). The other songs comment on modern life and technology, accusing them of crippling one's spiritual abilities. All of this is compellingly written and well worth reading through.

Check this record out if you want to hear some obscure and innovative prog death, but don't expect too much. You certainly will find something to like, but it might also disappoint you overall. Had Afflicted made more albums in this style, they might have had a chance to perfect their sound and become of the big names of progressive death metal, but instead they chose to change their sound entirely soon afterwards and became a power metal band.

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