(Austin Weber reviews the debut album by Fall of the Albatross, which had its full streaming premiere yesterday.)
Fall Of The Albatross are pretty much the second coming of the style of music played by defunct experimental mathcore fusionists Lye By Mistake, although Fall Of The Albatross amazingly draw from an even wider palette of sounds than the aforementioned eclectic group, and they do so quite expertly. While the band previously had a vocalist, they decided to soldier on sans vocals after losing him, leading to their current instrumental incarnation and the self-recording of their full-length debut now before us — Enormous Cloud.
Enormous Cloud is a lot of things at a lot of different times. But to try and break it down into its elements, you could say that they smash together lots of wild tapping, heavy-as-hell moments of pure Dillinger rage, split-second grind bursts, just the right amount of post-rock builds, some grooves, and polyrhythmic chugging that’s always paired with different combinations of riff/leads/sweeps/tapping and is never overdone. Meanwhile some of their rhythms and melodies certainly remind of math-rock at times, while their forays into jazz, Latin, funk, blues, and fusion slide in and out of this ever-changing mass.
Jarring though some of the transitions are, the songs all manage to have a unique identity, flow, and structure. This is very progressive and dense instrumental metal indeed.
A good example of their nutty genre-mash ups appears instantly on “Euphoria Dance”, where a funk-and-keyboard-jam beginning gives off a pleasant and upbeat vibe that obfuscates the sudden embrace of head-splitting heaviness to come. Or take the intro to “In The Interest Of Time”, which sounds a good deal like Electro Quarterstaff, but the stomping Meshuggah rhythms that overpower afterward take things in a totally different direction. Those forays into heaviness only last for so long, as these songs frequently shift course and direction unexpectedly on a dime.
“Revolving Lantern” is another song with a similar sonic approach, a collision of technicality, speed, and groove along with a smattering of the rest of their jack-of-all-trades secret awesome sauce musical ingredients. The way that song ends and begins is hauntingly beautiful, and yet the song is also quite aggressive, creating a further heightened sense of dynamics.
This deep conflict and contrast in their music continually proves to be interesting, unique, and abundantly varied throughout the musical roller-coaster that Enormous Cloud spins and swirls around into your ears. Another particularly enjoyable track, “All Connected”, similarly disperses bold hypnotic bursts amidst metallic minefields in a highly creative and multi-faceted way.
Each member of the group plays with passion, creativity, and a very high level of technical skill. They deserve applause for their performances here. Guitarists Colin Ruhwedel and Harold McCummings (also keys) cover a range of stitched-together playing styles, creating an all-encompassing, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink framework. Robert Anderson’s bountiful, beefy, audible 6-string bass lines dominate with his strong double-thumping style, while also being silky smooth, and drummer Anthony Wong seems more robot than human. Combined, they’re a group whose collective talent is off the charts and eye-popping without ever showboating.
Having had the immense pleasure of seeing them play several of these songs live, I can attest to the band’s tremendous skills and abilities as they pulled off this incredibly difficult and frenetic material flawlessly.
Enormous Cloud is equal parts elegant, explorative, and aggressive, and that tri-focused approach is a thing of wonder to hear in spirited action. Much like a Mr. Bungle, Enormous Cloud sounds like the work of multiple bands fighting each other for space on a singular album of incredible density and intensity. Fall Of The Albatross are certainly a new breed of instrumental metal, and Enormous Cloud is their forward-thinking testament to the world.
Enormous Cloud comes out June 24 and pre-order bundles are available through their website listed below. It will also be digitally available through Bandcamp on its release date. A full album stream via Heavy Blog Is Heavy is available here: