Tag Archives: Wolf

The Kissing Flies by Albatross


When the Mumbai-based power-thrash metal band, Albatross, who peg themselves as horror metal, announced that their latest album was going to be a Split EP with the American Doom Metal band, Vestal Claret, I had asked the founder/bassist of the band, Riju Dasgupta (who goes by his onstage moniker Dr. H3X) why they were keen on doing EPs rather than releasing full lengths. He replied that they would rather work on their songwriting chops and on getting their sound right before recording a full length album. So when I received the early copy of their latest effort, The Kissing Flies EP, I was very curious to know how much they had progressed from their debut EP, the Dinner Is You.

Before jumping into reviewing the album, it would be appropriate to let you know that Albatross has a penchant for horror stories and all their songs bear proof of their inclination towards the macabre. This proclivity for storytelling is evident in their choosing to construct a concept around which they weave their songs. ‘The Kissing Flies’ theme is of a hero returning to his hometown, Raptorsville, which has fallen to ruin and beset upon by, well, The Kissing Flies.

The album opener, ‘Wither’, is appropriately dark and foreboding, invoking a sense of dread about subsequent ominous and sinister events. Built on a layer of masterfully eerie sound sampling done by Murari Vasudevan of Rat King, it features the epic, soaring vocals of Biprorshee Das, and creepy chilling laughter in the background.

‘Uncle Sunny at the Tavern’ explodes from the starting block and tells the tale of the narrator arriving at a tavern in Raptorsville, and his chance encounter with an ‘Uncle Sunny’ from his childhood. It paints a picture of a desolate and forlorn decaying town at the edge of total demise. This track is a huge earworm, not only because of the uber-catchy chorus underlined by the noodly leads of Vignesh, but also because of the excellent riffage of the two guitarists; though the guitar solos scattered between the verses could’ve been better thought out. Vocal duties on this track are shared between Biprorshee Das and the brilliant vocalist from the Swedish band Wolf, Niklas Stalvind, who plays the role of the ‘Uncle Sunny’ character in the track.

The 3rd track in the EP, the title track, is the most impressive – and the longest – of the lot. Clocking in at just over 10 minutes, it features some of the most diverse and punishing vocal performances. Ranging from banshee-like shrieks and screams to the high-pitched King Diamond-esque singing and deep-throated croaks, the diminutive Biprorshee’s effort is nothing short of dazzling. And if those variations in the vocals weren’t enough, Demonic Resurrection’s Sahil Makhija also joins in for some growling merriment. While the vocals are the highlight of this track, the dueling guitar solos of Vigneshkumar Venkatraman and Nishith Hegde are also riveting. However, in my opinion, the most engaging part of the song are the lyrics, which chronicles the horrors of The Kissing Flies plaguing Raptorsville.

The last track of the Albatross side of the split, ‘From Ashes Comes Life‘, is one of the relatively weaker songs on the EP. Despite being a decent song by itself, it fails to engage the listener as much as the other songs. I would’ve liked this track to be a bit slower in tempo, and with more down-tuned guitars, especially in the 4th verse. The song follows the protagonist as he tries valiantly to rid the town of the malicious malady of The Kissing Flies.

Overall, the Albatross half of the split is quite enjoyable, much more than the debut, Dinner Is You. What is more heartening and commendable is that the band seems to have put in some thought and effort into building the concept for the album, something which not many bands pay much attention to. The resulting tale is gripping and reading the lyrics from the booklet while listening to the album is actually rewarding.

The Vestal Claret side of the split features just one song – a mammoth 17-minute beast of a track, ‘Black Priest’. Divided into 3 parts, the track takes on the duplicitous clergy class with some very wicked, sharp and intelligently written lyrics. Sample this, for instance,

When you come and seek a savior

   Don’t be surprised by my behavior

Coz like my father I’m the deceiver

Here to prey on all believers”


“Let me put my hands upon you

You’ll be anointed when I’m through”

It is always a great pleasure to read lyrics as delightful as these while listening to music that matches them incredibly well.

The first part of this magnum opus progresses sedately, with measured and restrained drumming. As the minutes tick by and the track builds up menacingly, you slowly realize you are experiencing something phenomenal. At around the 8-minute mark, the track segues seamlessly into the 2nd part, or rather a musical movement, and switches gears to move with a bit more urgency.  Guitar solos make their appearance in this part, courtesy of the immensely talented Simon Tuozzoli, who incidentally, was also behind the knobs, tweaking the sound of the album. The colossal, dirty, down-tuned and doomy guitar riffs – a reverential nod to the traditional doom masters of the past, à la Cathedral, Saint Vitus and Pentagram in this nearly 6-minute segment are absolutely eargasmic . I trust a lot of listeners would want to go back and listen to this part over and over again. In the final section, the track loops back to the first three verses. When the track finally fades out towards the end, you can’t help but wonder whether it actually covered nearly a third of an hour! Throughout this lengthy chef-d’oeuvre, Phil Swanson displays his magnificent set of pipes, which are pretty piercing and unique in their delivery of the irreverent lyrics. In summation, this track is an incredible piece of work and might very well be a strong contender for the song of the year in my book.

In partnering with Vestal Claret, Albatross has scored an absolute winner. This album is a delight to the ears and I expect heavy metal and doom metal fans to trip over themselves trying to get their hands on it. Hope this album gets released on vinyl.


XXX’Mas at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore


The XXX’Mas gig held on Christmas Eve, more importantly on Lemmy’s birthday, was supposed to be a tribute to those artists born in December who had inspired the bands playing that night. The artists being paid tribute were Dave Murray, Lemmy Kilmister, Ozzy Osbourne, Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, Marty Friedman, Randy Rhoads, Daniel Antonsson, Jari Maenpaa, Mille Petrozza, Chris Barnes, Chuck Schuldiner, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.

There were a few hiccups before the gig began – Corrode (covering Dark Tranquility/Wintersun), Pushing Tin (covering Jimi Hendrix/The Doors) and Theorized (covering Metallica/Megadeth) pulled out at the very last minute. Shepherd, Djinn & Miskatonic and Dhwesha pitched in and agreed to play even though it was at such short notice.

XXX'Mas at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore

Shepherd was a few minutes into their set when we walked into Kyra. Since we were not familiar with the band due to last minute changes in the line-up, the first couple of minutes were spent trying to figure out what they were called. Though they have a characteristic doom-laden sound, the down-tuned, but heavily distorted lead guitars and the processed, yet abrasive vocals were very much reminiscent of YOB, or even Acid Bath. The throbbing bass was prominent in the mix, and even though most of the tracks lasted a bit over six minutes, the sudden tempo changes surely made for an interesting set. We later found out that this was their very first gig, something that was perhaps evident from the zero interaction the frontman had with the crowd. Shepherd is certainly a band to look forward to in the future, especially for the sludge-like vibe from their sound.

Djinn & Miskatonic was the second band of the three last-minute additions that evening. They have a very interesting and unconventional line-up that consists of a drummer, a bassist and a vocalist (yessir, no lead/rhythm guitars!) D&M’s sound is primarily bass-driven (duh), with the rhythm section playing a tight, but plodding version of traditional doom rock grooves. The vocals range from laboured, almost drone-like sections sung clean, to low-pitched growls. The feel, if we could use the term, is one of horror films of days gone by, to be honest. Their brand of ultra-slow, trudging doom is not everyone’s cup of gin & tonic, and will certainly confuse a metalhead who sticks to the conventional riff-based gloom perpetrated by the likes of Sabbath, Pentagram and Candlemass.

XXX'Mas at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore

Dhwesha was the third band in queue and put on a great show even though it was only their second live performance and they had little time to practise. They kicked off their set with typical, old school death metal ferocity and ‘Hoy! Sala’ was the first of the original compositions that they played. After enthralling the crowd with ‘Dhwesha’, ‘Ugra Narasimha’ and ‘Yudhabhumi’, they even managed to squeeze in a rousing cover – Bolt Thrower’s ‘Those Once Loyal’. Together with Djinn & Miskatonic and Shepherd they provided an excellent opening for the rest of the bands lined up.

Up next were Gorified, one of the bands from the original line-up. They were paying tribute to Cannibal Corpse and Death, more specifically Chris Barnes of the former and the Chuck Schuldiner of the latter (Schuldiner wasn’t born in December but passed away that month). As is their standard, they got the moshing started in no time giving the crowd a nice, strong dose of their brand of extreme metal. Their brutal onslaught included intense covers – Cannibal Corpse’s ‘A Skull Full of Maggots’ and ‘Stripped, Raped and Strangled’; Death’s ‘Denial of Life’ and Napalm Death’s ‘Scum.’ They ended their savagery with a song from Gani and Charlie’s older project Cremated Souls.

XXX'Mas at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore

Mumbai’s Albatross were the next band on stage and their set that night was a tribute to Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads. They took a while to get started and set up but once their set began they were a sheer thrill to watch. The vocalist – Biprorshee Das has a solid set of pipes and terrific stage presence; he was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the night. They started off with classics ‘Bark at the Moon’ and ‘Crazy Train’ and had quite a few people singing along. Switching gears, they played Sabbath much to the crowd’s delight. Following their commendable covers of ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ and ‘N.I.B.’, they had a surprise for the crowd – Ganesh Krishnaswamy from Bevar Sea joined them for a brilliant rendition of ‘Paranoid’. Reverting back to Ozzy one last time, they played ‘Gets me Thru’ and ‘Mr. Crowley’. They had one last cover for the night – Wolf’s ‘Voodoo’ – and did quite a good job of it, especially Biprorshee, who nailed those falsettos with ease. The set ended with ‘In the Court of Kuru’, a song from their debut E.P.

XXX'Mas at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore

Headliners Kryptos were doing an Iron Maiden tribute set (celebrating Dave Murray’s birthday). Much like a Maiden gig, they had U.F.O’s ‘Doctor, Doctor’ playing on the P.A. before taking stage, something that rather unfortunately went more or less unnoticed by a large chunk of the crowd. They started with ‘Ides of March’ and proceeded to play ‘Wrathchild’ and ‘Killers’ with Ganesh taking over vocal duties the second time that night. Nolan Lewis attempted the formidable task of singing songs from Dickinson-era Maiden and did quite a good job with ‘Children of the Damned’ and ‘Flight of Icarus’. Biprorshee joined Kryptos for a phenomenal cover of ‘The Trooper’, and everyone in the crowd was chanting along fervently with the band. Ganesh was back on stage once more to round up the set with ‘Running Free’ and ‘Iron Maiden’. Kryptos were hands down the best set/performance of the night. They were also the only band to play only covers that night (Pillbox 666 doesn’t count given that they’re a cover band).

XXX'Mas at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore

The last act of the night, Pillbox 666, took to the stage to a reduced and slightly sluggish crowd. Their set was a tribute to the mighty Lemmy from Motorhead and Teutonic thrash legends Kreator (Mille Petrozza), though the original billing had them doing a Rolling Stone tribute too. Vikram Bhat, the vocalist, couldn’t make it and the vocal duties were taken over by Ganesh and Bharad Ravi (ex-Culminant). The first half of their set comprised of Motorhead covers, Ganesh pulling of an uncannily good impression of Lemmy, playing ‘The Chase is Better than the Catch’, ‘Killed by Death’, ‘Iron Fist’ and ‘Going to Brazil’ before handing over the reins to Bharad who closed the Motorhead set with ‘Overkill’. The next half – the Kreator tribute set – was equally fun to watch (more so since the songs were from Kreator’s first two albums) with them performing badass covers of ‘Under the Guillotine’, ‘Son of Evil’, ‘Total Death’ and ‘Tormentor’.

Despite the last minute changes in the line-up and the fact that almost half of the bands ended up performing original material instead of covers, the good turnout and the nostalgia associated with some of the artists that were being paid tribute to, made sure the audience had a good time. Given how city-centric the metal acts in our scene are, it was a refreshing change to see a band like Albatross to come over all the way from Mumbai to play here. Certainly something everyone would like to see more of in the days to come. No milk and cookies here for Mr. Claus though, beer and cigarettes are more rock n’ roll! Bet Lemmy would agree.