Album: Gaia EP
Release Date: March 11, 2016
Genre: Melodic Metalcore
Blasting back onto the scene (independently this time), Cleveland Ohio-based melodic metalcore outfit Alliance makes a bold, driving, and frankly incredible statement with their new E.P., Gaia. Often, whenever a metal band of any subgenre is claimed to have “matured”, it is typically an inexplicit way of saying the band has mellowed out their music; but this claim cannot be made for Gaia in the slightest. Stylistically, Gaia boasts a brutal heaviness that is a significant step up from their previous efforts without sacrificing their unique melody-focused sound.
Over the years, Affiance has maintained a primarily metalcore style, yet with a unique twist not commonly seen in this subgenre; their music features almost entirely clean vocals. Many traditional “core” listeners may be put off by this aspect, especially since many bands that attempt clean singing end up sounding like the singer was given a swift kick to the nether regions before performing. Don’t let this dissuade you from Gaia, however; it is the most accessible Affiance release to these kind of musical palates (and nearly any metal-craving palates for that matter!)
Vocalist Dennis Tvrdik not only delivers another impressive and even captivating performance on Gaia with his soaring, confident clean vocals, but also assaults the listener with an onslaught of well-timed growls and screams. There were not any moments where I felt like his singing wore out its welcome, in fact I found myself wanting to belt along with him even in public places on more than one occasion.
As far as overall musicality is concerned, Affiance found the nearest heaviness dial, and threw it into overdrive. Gaia can easily contend with any of its contemporaries and match (if not utterly crush) them in terms of skill and brutality. Guitarists Dominic Dickinson and Brett Wondrak relentlessly hammer out headbangable riffs and melodies, and complement them with fantastic finger-searing solos. Patrick Galante demonstrates his skill on the drums throughout the entire E.P. by keeping the music driven and precise in both the faster and slower sections. Amidst the ensuing and engrossing awesomeness, however, there are some unfortunate dips into all-too familiar territory that have been explored dozens of times by many other bands beforehand, such as a few predictable breakdowns. This is a very minor complaint though, which does not detract from the listener’s enjoyment of Gaia at all.
Lyrically, Gaia is unapologetic and downright fierce, as with their previous albums, but on this iteration, they take a different angle. Taken from the name of the Greek goddess of the earth, Gaia differs from albums like The Campaign in its focus, which harps on not just the political problems of current times, but on the problems of society and the earth as a whole. It decries mankind’s destruction of itself and the planet it inhabits, and simultaneously urges the listener to not sit by idly, but instead become a part the force for change.
Gaia’s fluid fusion of brutality and melody is prevalent in every single track of the beefy seven-song E.P., and it represents their transition into their own unique musical niche. With bold choruses, intense instrumentation, and uncompromising lyricism, Affiance proves that they are unquestionably dedicated to their music, label or no label. If Gaia is indicative of the things to come from Affiance, then, my friend, you would be truly missing out one of the most promising and talented metalcore acts in the current scene if you passed them by. Affiance accomplished something rare in Gaia; they managed to shift their sound into a direction that appeals to a wider variety of metalheads without compromising their trademark message and sound. 2016 has already seen several notable releases, and without doubt or hesitation, Gaia is among them, and is worthy of your time and your money, especially if you are a fan of metalcore or something slightly different from the norms of the subgenre.
Here’s the official music video for ‘Reboot’ from Gaia:
For fans of: August Burns Red, The Word Alive, Haste the Day
by: Chad Brown