Release Review: Albatross / Vestal Claret – The Kissing Flies (Split)

If there were one word to systematically describe The Kissing Flies EP, it would have to be ‘remarkable’. When you get Philip Swanson (formerly of Hour of 13) exhibiting some fine licks of death-doom luminosity combined with Indian metallers Albatross’ often overlooked presence in the horror-themed power metal market, it certainly makes for just that – remarkable. Interesting. Charismatic.

The Kissing Flies is one of those EPs which offers a flavourful mixture; a journey into a theatrical montage. Albatross’ offering leaps from the short, ambient yet palatable intro “Wither” into a rhythmic, Mercyful Fate-themed composition that features operatic vocals, a surplus of thrashy leads and a sinister kit beating and ferocious solo that makes up “Uncle Sunny At The Tavern”. The pace is comparatively more domineering and memorable than its predecessor, invoking an eerie blend that is vocally hypnotic and instrumentally solid.

Immediately following “Uncle Sunny At The Tavern” is a 10-minute opus “Kissing Flies”, which is slowly introduced and quickly graced with a great death-power riff exchange between guitarists Vignesh and Nishith. What follows is more dramatic and dominant vocals as previously explored and a tasty memorable riff, followed by some more impressive Annihilator-esque solo work. A foundation explored in this track that is striking yet somewhat repetitive, but “Kissing Flies” is still ultimately a prime slice.

Unfortunately, the follower “From Ashes Comes Life” is not so resembling of ‘talented’ and ‘fresh’ that Albatross have screamed thus far. Apart from the sinister and empowering vocal addition from Demonic Resurrection’s own Demonstealer, the magic has somewhat faded from their repertoire. What appears to be awkwardly placed vocals from Biprorshee Das, where the punches they pack have had their strength drained and a significantly slower pace for the majority of the song combine to make it a slightly sub-par offering from the rest. But there is definite room for improvement. It’s the little things, but Albatross have ultimately showcased a decent assortment of musical zest that is unique and compelling.

Vestal Claret, with only one song on this split, offer quite possibly the strongest of the five. Running at nearly 18 minutes, the rollercoaster that is “Black Priest” is par for the course in that which makes up menacing, ominous doom metal with flavours of death thrown in to spice up the taste. In an almost Iron Maiden-like overture, a gracing of jazz-prog in slow fashion is savoured for almost half the song, before the pace is quickened with Opeth-esque fretwork featuring wicked harmonised vocal bellows and an excess of polyrhythms. Another fierce solo erupts before reverting back to the previous ambient and mellow pace before the fire was ignited. The riffs are vitriolic as expected, and of course, with Philip Swanson at the microphone helm it is hard to not be satisfied with this epilogue.

Albatross-Vestal Claret split

1. Wither (Albatross)
2. Uncle Sunny At The Tavern (Albatross)
3. Kissing Flies (Albatross)
4. From Ashes Comes Life (Albatross)
5. Black Priest (Vestal Claret)


Albatross are:
Biprorshee Das – Vocals
Vignesh – Guitars
Nishith – Guitars
Jay Thacker – Drums
Dr. Hex – Fretless Bass

Vestal Claret

Vestal Claret are:
Philip Swanson – Vocals
Simon Tuozzoli – Guitars
Michael Petrucci – Drums

Guest musicians:
Murari Vasudevan (Rat King) – Vocals on “Wither”
Niklas Stalvind (Wolf) – Vocals on “Kissing Flies”
The Demonstealer (Demonic Resurrection) – Vocals on “From Ashes Comes Life”

More of the bands:
Bandcamp (Albatross)
Twitter (Albatross)
Facebook (Albatross)
Facebook (Vestal Claret)

About Dan Walton (172 Articles)
Dan (or Danuel as many know him) is the newest member of the editorial team of MetalRecusants, after being a contributing writer for a few years. He spends his days sending emails, editing, drinking coffee or listening to some form of Australian metal. He can usually be spotted wearing his Northlane windbreaker around the mean streets of Shoreditch. Find him on Twitter: @DanuelKC - he tweets about sports a lot.

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