Like a deliberate effort to humanize the type of sound heard in Spiral Architect and other technical bands, Twisted into Form's goal, according to the press release, is that of "conjuring extraordinary emotions through each musician's contribution." That they are only partially successful in this can be attributed in large part to Leif Knashaug's limitations. With the air of a bestselling novelist referencing an early, scathing rejection letter, he concludes his personal profile at the Twisted into Form homepage with a 1987 quotation attributed to Kerrang, characterizing him (presumably) as "a piss poor vocalist." While I wouldn't go that far in describing the Leif of today, he is mediocre. Sterile and stiff, his thin voice carries little emotional resonance, and sounds particularly weak on "The Thin Layers of Lust and Love," which also has some lame vocal harmonies. Only on "Coda," where he is helped by a poignant melody, does he generate much feeling. Elsewhere, his strident, annoyed tone may be the only aspect of his singing that could be called emotive, as well as being the lone distinguishing feature of what is otherwise a generic prog-style voice. For a clean, non-aggressive singer, Knashaug is strangely abrasive most of the time, and not in a good way.
Part of what makes him off-putting is that the vocal melodies themselves can be stilted or jerky, intentionally, perhaps, so as to make the voice a percussive element and to convey a sense of agitation, one that would have come across better with a warmer, more soulful singer. That feeling is, however, expressed effectively and pleasurably by the other instruments, peaking in "Enter Nothingness" and "Coda." Lyrically and musically, these tracks suggest the beginning and end of a circular journey initiated by and concluding with the affliction alluded to in the album's rather pretentious-sounding title, which, I learned, is from Kierkegaard. Whether this knowledge makes it seem less pretentious or more, I'm not sure. Turmoil mixed with calmer moods dominates the middle portion, and throughout there are intricate riffs and rhythms, lush melodies (notably in "Torrents"), and great variety in the guitar sounds as well as in the style and length of the songs to command one's attention. While the music isn't consistently interesting, at times becoming merely background entertainment, there are few missteps (a glaring one being the tired in medias res opening of "House of Nadir") and many excellent choices. Sound-wise, Then Comes Affliction to Awaken the Dreamer has enough in common with Spiral Architect to somewhat assuage yearnings for a follow-up to A Sceptic's Universe, and although the vocals will be a deterrent for some, it should appeal to most fans of non-aggressive technical metal.
|1. Enter Nothingness|
|2. Instinct Solitaire|
|4. The Thin Layers Of Lust And Love|
|7. The Flutter Kings|
|9. House of Nadir|
|Buy other Twisted Into Form albums|