Here at the elucidation-station that is Angry Metal Guy, EPs usually slip beneath the review radar in favor of a meatier morsel. But it’s cutting season, dammit, and no tyrannical filthy ape tells me what to review. Virginia’s Affasia are preparing to release their debut EP, Adrift in Remorse, an offering full of doom-death and a beckoning melodic charm — and when the sad-boy signals, you best believe I answer the call. With an unfaltering belief in the genre-labels that adorn the promo bin, enRaptured songs of spiritual Slumber is absolutely what I was expecting, but what I got turned out to be something a little different…
Affasia‘s character is primed by that of Paradise Lost‘s, but that isn’t what defines it; an emotional atmosphere of dark melody perseveres throughout these threnodies of bedoomed death and it’s a theme that Affasia strictly adheres to. “Another Host,” the first, and arguably best, of four songs instantly showcases the band’s focus on songwriting and natural proclivity for progression. A gentle swell of cymbals soon lapses into a swaying verse riff that, in turn, makes way for vocalist Noah Cabitto’s porcelain tones. While his mid-range offers comparisons to Nick Holmes’ more tender orations, it’s the immediately evocative chorus that commits the song, and Cabitto’s voice, to memory. A gentle and perpetual pitch that hints at the fragility inherent in the genre’s lyrical themes float over the refrain, sharply contrasting with the dense roars that intermittently pepper the verses. Cabitto proves himself nothing if not diverse, with the uglier end of his dual vocals clearly studied at the Kotamäki School for Gifted Growlers.
Where Affasia truly attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff is the classical influence that makes an occasional appearance. While Adam Coffman’s keys are prevalent throughout, layering the mid-paced riffing, it’s only at the beginning of “Dissolute” that they truly shine. The song begins with an all-too-brief piano intro that progressively improvises on its own structure with an almost Baroque sensibility, peaking with a crescendo of beautiful trilling notes before the song plunges headlong into a post-metal/doom rhythm. The thoughtful All Quiet on the Western Front quote that interjects mid-song expands on the emotional drama, and for a while, all is well. Adrift in Remorse is an infinitely considered offering from a clearly professional band, and its strict quality control is evident. However, as a first musical venture and, presumably, a precursor to a hopeful full-length, it isn’t entirely without fault. Although no reflection of Tony Petrocelly’s playing, the drum tone is awful — I’ve heard more impact making a fucking sandwich. Guitarist, Jason Jennings, consistently forges catchy riffs and crestfallen chords, but the songs are carried by the clean singing, which falters somewhat on “Brittle Sentiment,” where Cabitto’s once delicate delivery seems to sporadically slip into awkward timorous phrasing. A minor quibble, however, is all I can really level against the record’s fastest song, replete with a fine solo courtesy of Matt Motto of Dissona.
Special mention must go to bassist Nick Lucente1, who busies himself on each song with a loquacious profusion of chattering metallic notes. Doom metal isn’t always the kindest to bassists who aren’t content to only emanate seismic quakes of feedback, so to hear his articulate low-end sifting through the mix was particularly refreshing. His feature on closer, “As You Never Were,” serves to fortify the despondent riffing and suitably disconsolate chorus. The song fades with a few lamenting keys, teasing another classical embellishment, but then proceeds to abruptly end. It seems a missed opportunity, considering Coffman’s skill, but it remains only a vague observation, and the EP closes as well as it began.
While a few developmental issues remain, Adrift in Remorse is a fine foray into a crowded genre and is absolutely possessed of a quality often lacking in more established acts. The material offers us a tip-toe glimpse into a veritable well of potential that, once fully tapped, may see Affasia standing eye to eye with the genre giants, providing a somber and perhaps unique soundtrack for when that eternal October Tide once more drags the waters into another Doomed November. If the band can embrace their classical capacities, then I await a full-length release with baited breath.