Hold on to your horns because you’re about to be taken on the ride of your life from the furthest depths of space to the darkest pits of hell with the mighty Black/Thrash aficionado Affliktor. One of the most eagerly anticipated releases of the year from legendary guitar virtuoso Toby Knapp (Ex-Godless Rising, current Waxen/Where Evil Follows), who proves he is master of all with his brand new solo venture. Released this coming Friday 20th October via Transcending Obscurity, India’s dominating label for underground metal. Get your pre-order here!
Having been scouted in the early 90’s at just age eighteen by Shrapnel Records President Mike Varney, Wyoming-based Knapps has rightly become part of the underground elite and a pioneering force in the scene. Arguably one of the greatest guitarists of the present times and with an entire discography of solid releases across a multitude of genres, expectations were already high after 2016’s mind-blowing Heavy metal/Neo-classical infused instrumental venture “The Architect Of Paradox”, and recent guest appearance on Mark Riddick’s Fetid Zombie on 2016’s “Epicedia”. Fittingly Riddick has created the grotesquely eloquent artwork to grace Affliktors debut, which suits it down to the bone.
“Storms Of Demogorgon” is exactly what the name denotes, thundering in with an explosion of turbo-charged distortion and raspy vocals accentuated with the heavy use of reverb to give a deathly demonic sound, easily appeasing any bloodthirsty deity that resides in the darkest pits of hell. Its fast tempo draws parallels to early thrash and the late 80’s underground extreme metal movement when it broke away from the more rapidly growing heavy/speed metal of the time. Not to say that these didn’t have their influence, as across the album there are numerous mind-bending solos that are genre crossing and an absolute feast for guitarists to draw inspiration. Knapp’s delivers what I feel are authentic solos from across the board. Notably in “Born To The Breeder” which is beautifully melodic with screeching top-end, interwoven against a backdrop of layered harmonised rhythm guitars that echo traditional heavy metal licks. This is contrasted in “Chaos Magick Totality” which has numerous insane frenzies of mind-expanding tapping alongside earth shattering blast-beats that rip right through to your core. This track is definitely one of the most technically diverse on the record and is an intoxicating equilibrium of chaos and control. Knapp’s experience as a drummer is again heavily utilised to the max in “Planet Rogue” adding to the already impressive repertoire. Without hesitation you are consumed by a barrage of triplets that heavily accentuate the initial slower melodies at play, leading on to an onslaught of psychedelic yo-yoing across the fret board and another of many sublime solos.
What strikes most overall is Knapp’s ability to combine multiple influences, creating a truly experimental approach whilst staying true to the traditional black thrash genre. ‘Affliktor’ is an absolute adrenaline induced astral joy ride from beginning to end and is testament to Knapp’s sheer artistic virtuosity and skills as a competent composer. Being a one-man project has allowed him to fully exploit his remarkable ability as a fully-fledged guitarist and take each song to the absolute limit. Overall, giving off a strong insight to his real raw and ready passion and adding another fantastic offering to his already impressive discography.