ALBATROSS – Fear From The Skies
Storytelling and horror has always been an integral part of Albatross’s music. Influenced heavily by King Diamond, Queensryche, Iron Maiden and Dream Theater, the band has, over the last few years, built a reputation as being India’s first and best heavy metal storytellers. The band’s debut EP ‘Dinner is You’ presented to the listeners diseased cannibals, and the sophomore EP release ‘Kissing Flies’ followed the tale of the town of Raptorsville, plagued by killer flies.
The latest release from the Mumbai based heavy metal band, ‘Fear From The Skies,’ released on Transcending Obscurity Records takes the band and the music to the next level with two (apparently unconnected) spine-chilling tales – one set in the doomed town of Raptorsville where Jugglehead the Clown reigns supreme, and the other in a mysterious land, under siege by the winged assassin from the sky.
“Let’s play a little game; things will never be the same!”
The first mini-story takes place at the Raptorsville Fair; the intro ‘Advance’ lays the narrative, and leads into ‘The Raptorsville Fair.’ The song possesses an eerie, neck-hair-raising vibe – the re-imagination of a traditional amusement park tune, complete with a heavy bassline and off-time beats references the previous Raptorsville horrors (‘The Kissing Flies’) and depicts the wonders that lie in store at the fair, as the shroud of impending doom wisps through. ‘Jugglehead the Clown,’ one of the highlights of the release, introduces the primary antagonist in a wave of double bass and thrash riffs, and ‘Children of the Cloud’ leads the proverbial lambs to the slaughter (without going into too many spoilers).
“From the death of the old king, a new order we shall bring. An end to the holocaust, the empire of Albatross.”
‘In The Lair Of Dr. Hex’ begins the second part of the album – a riff-fest set in a fictional land of rebellion, where the mysterious Dr. Hex plots his coup against the unnamed King. The Albatross, the “winged assassin,” the subject of horror and Dr. Hex’s instrument of revolution and death does his cruel bidding in ‘A Tale of Two Tyrants’ and ‘The Empire of Albatross’ brings the savagery to an end in an epic showcase of riffs, ripping guitar solos and animalistic screams of pain and bloodshed.
Since the first release in 2010, Albatross have constantly changed and moulded their sound, going from rather mid-tempo, riff based music to faster, lick and melody based music – using the music to support and enhance the story, rather than as an accompaniment for the words. Albatross’s new release is a fantastic exhibit of horror metal and is a flawless representation of the band’s technical and storytelling prowess. With thick, crunchy riffs and heaps of delectable guitar solos spread across almost 40 minutes, the album captures the elusive ‘heavy metal aesthetic;’ a sound and vibe that has been long missing from Indian heavy metal. The twin vocal attack and the rock solid rhythm section rounds up a remarkable release from the sextet. It’s pretty early in the year, although I predict that this album will occupy a top spot on my year-end list.