Affector represents the gathering of big names and excellent musicians that bring with them qualities of their "principal" bands; a kind of progressive metal ''super-group'', which has become a sort of a trend these days (see EPYSODE, FLAMING ROW, even AYREON). Daniel Fries and Collin Leijenaar are the masterminds behind this, supported by the talent of Ted Leonard and Mike LePond, but also the guest appearances of four well-known keyboardists and a Polish symphonic orchestra - a combination which ought to succeed.
The album lasts for a little more than an hour and is full of heavy guitar riffs (primarily in the vein of Dream Theater, but also Symphony X) and fast (mainly keyboard) solos, over which the melodic vocal lines are laid out by Ted Leonard. As a concept album, there are a few main themes which are repeated in the album, admittedly with great success, and particularly in the highlights of the album, the instrumental ''Overture (pt. 2)'', but also ''Salvation'' and ''Harmagedon''. The use of twin guitars and accompanying keyboards (a la 90s Dream Theater) create two or three memorable riffs that I would not mind hearing repeated throughout. The musicianship is also undoubtedly (and as expected) exceptional, the variations enough to sustain tracks over 10 minutes long (title track, Rapture) and, yes, there are those catchy refrains you were hoping for from Leonard.
The concept builds on the Biblical Apocalypse, from where the majority of lyrics are extracted, often intact. I felt that, in some occasions, the lyrics don't tie in with the musical background and often the grandeur and the epic feeling are lacking in order to support the concept. This mostly appears in the middle sections of the album and the closing track, which I found somewhat weak and/or indifferent. The Neal Morse and Enchant influences are also there in the sung melodies, while Leonard seems to ''disappear'' for long sections within some tracks. Most of the album is compositionally articulate, with the exception of the occasional mixing of series of themes that affect its cohesion (even during the highlights), creating some confusion.
All in all, a very good album that will not disappoint the fans of progressive metal, but could be far from the masterpiece that might have been expected. The potential is definitely there to create one, and it will require some further elements of originality to excite me. Amen.
P.S. Originally posted in www.progarchives.com