The gifted, guitar wizardry of Toby Knapp returns with another project, Affliktor. Having reviewed his 2016 release for Waxen, the prospect of another dose of blackened thrash metal was both intriguing and exciting. Again, Knapp is the one man band; the master of ceremonies; the deliverer of shred over what we expect will be some darkened tones.

“Storms Of Demogorgon” sets the bar high as we enter Knapp’s realm. Highly technical and furiously paced with vocals that blend Bathory filth and Goatwhore venom, a pulse racing ride feels like its’ developing. The lead guitar hypnotises and mesmerises in equal measure never feeling cold or sterile as it weaves its’ way through sometimes hardcore punk blasts. There’s a lot going on here and it feels busy but not fussy; if anything it demands attention and rewards in turn. Elsewhere, on tracks like “Born To The Breeder”, classic American thrash tones mix with the raw fury of their German counterparts. Throat stripping vocals add an extra layer of venom to what is fast becoming an intriguing mix.

The ominous tones of “South Of Heaven” era Slayer envelop “Chaos Magick Totality” with its’ twisted creep. Despite the tornado off riffs, there’s an odd delicacy to the guitar breaks that leave you constantly shaking your head in amazement. These leads are the constant hero but not to the detriment of the layers that Knapp has created. He’s also crafted a strong sense of groove, especially in latter tracks like “Burn The Earth” and “Planet Rogue”, both of which are hooky and full of heads down propulsion. Signing off with the tortured guitar squeal of “Pazuzu Invoked”, the urge is strong to start the album all over again. There’s an undeniable uniqueness that allows these songs to take flight with each one carefully and thoughtfully crafted.

Affliktor proves to be another prime slab of genius from Toby Knapp. Complementing his work under the Waxen banner, this project has its’ own identity and proves to be a springboard for its’ creator’s considerable talents. The prospect of experiencing these songs in a live setting would be a sensory delight. For lovers of classic sounding black and thrash metal, or indeed purveyors of fretboard mastery, this is well worth getting hold of

(8/10 Johnny Zed)