TDW & DREAMWALKERS INC.
The Antithetic Affiliation
Layered Reality Productions
Much like Ayreon, Avalon, Aldaria, or Avantasia, TWD is a metal project based around one main composer / songwriter, who, in this case, is Tom de Wit. The former frontman of Dutch progressive metal band Mind:Soul, Tom has released 6 full-length albums with TDW since 2004.
After three years of work, the next page in TDW’s book was finally released in May this year via Layered Reality Productions under the title “The Antithetic Affiliation”. However, a few months before the new album came out, TDW released an EP titled simply “Aphrodisia” (you can read the review here), consisting of four songs, for the supporters of an on-line campaign.
This concept album is divided in two halves – the idealist and the cynic – that highlight the antithesis between a light and a dark side, like yin and yang, if you will, which makes the title of the album self-explanatory. As it was explained in the press release:
Part I: The Idealist
The more we remember
Monolith – the ascent
Part II: The Cynic
Monolith – the descent
Lest we forget
“The infinity symbol is crucial to the theme that lies in this album as the human life pattern never stops in terms of positive and negative experiences. As long as a person lives and feels, the cycle will continue. Every positive experience will have a negative one to counter it and vice versa. You can feel completely alone, yet we all walk together in our loneliness connecting us again, for example.”
On these premises we can consider “The Antithetic Affiliation” as being an album of extremes, both music-wise as well as emotionally, with the first part being more melodic and symphonic, and the second part being darker, edgier, and more aggressive. To help create this album, Tom was join in the studio by a cast of highly talented musicians that have flavored the music with their own unique touch, and also by the live band Dreamwalkers Inc, who undoubtedly put their own mark on the music.
Part I – The Idealist. The lengthy “The more we remember” (22:39) opens the album on gentle piano notes, whispers, and uplifting violin melodies. The music gradually builds up to feature beautiful instrumental passages, some impressive guitar solos by Bob Wijtsma, and duets between Tom and guest vocalist Radina Dimcheva, which add an extra layer of complexity and beauty to the song. It is a very well crafted progressive metal track. “Anthem” can pretty much serve as a prog anthem as it contains a catchy chorus, easy to sing-along-to vocal lines, uplifting lyrics, and headbangish instrumental. Again I love the juxtaposition of male and female vocals, which make the whole song feel more bombastic, while giving it a symphonic metal edge. “Lovesong” has a somewhat more melancholic atmosphere to it, highlighted by the mellow instrumental, the acoustic guitar, and the underlying piano lines. “Monolith – the ascent” is not as heavy as I had anticipated, though it has a very intriguing structure, as it slowly builds up and quickens its pace as we reach the end of the song (hence the name), with powerful drums beats, groovy guitar melodies, and a well orchestrated backing instrumental.
Part II – the Cynic. “Monolith – the descent” picks up where the previous song left off and introduces us to the second part of “The Antithetic Affiliation”. Starting up with huge choirs, heavy guitars, and some synths á la Epica, the song is more brooding and darker than its counterpart, though it gradually slows it pace and its heaviness (as its name suggests) culminating in a very interesting chimes / bells interlude in the final couple of minutes, which I like a lot. “Aphrodisia” starts like a ballad, with some mellow melodies, and a duet between Tom and guest singer Radina Dimcheva accompanied by a melancholic cello line. Soon enough the guitars and drums kick in and change the direction of the music towards fast-paced metal and rapid delivery. Add to this a wonderful guitar solo by Dave Mola and you have yourself a good recipe for a thrashy / proggy piece with some bombastic moments in the form of Radina Dimcheva’s vocals. “Dirge”, the shortest track on the album, has a slow pace, and guest vocalist Cailyn Erlandsson adds some beautiful, ethereal vocals that fit perfectly on top of the cello lines and overall somber feel of the song. Closing the album is the 23-minute track “Lest we forget”, and I have to say I love the wicked bass lines provided by Peter den Bakker. Tom vocal delivery varies from cleans, to some downright creepy harsh vocals, to beautiful soft singing, showcasing his range and versatility. The instrumental ebbs and flows throughout the song, boasting some incredible guitar solos by Tommy Talamanca, Mendel bij de Leij and Frank Schiphorst, and orchestral passages. The choir is also used beautiful to pinpoint key moments in the song. It is indeed a monstrous metal song.
Tom de Wit – Vocals, Synths, Guitars
Lennert Kemper – Guitars, Vocals
Vincent Reuling – Synths, Vocals
Hanna van Gorcum – Violins, Treble Vielle, Vocals
Norbert Veenbrink – Guitars
Joey Klerkx – Guitars, Vocals
Peter den Bakker – Bass
Kenneth Martens – Drums
In conclusion: “The Antithetic Affiliation” is a well balanced, ambitious album (it clocks in at 85 minutes), with a good flow to the music, and many interesting moments.
It requires a few spins to fully grasp all its layers and complexity. It is a well rounded progressive metal album, with an intriguing theme to it that I’m sure would appeal to many progressive metal fans. I give it a 7.5 / 10