I was 16 years old when Behold The Arctopus released Nano Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning. I happened upon the release purely by chance somewhere on the Internet and was immediately hooked. The performance by the trio was incredibly raw and executed flawlessly. Since Nano Nucleonic Cyborg Summoning, I haven’t been quite as enamored with instrumental music. Most of it felt too polished, too mired down in aimless solos and pointless passages leading to nowhere.
At least up until I heard Fall Of The Albatross‘ new EP Abscission. Then I felt 16 years old all over again.
Abscission is 20 minutes of progressive metal insanity that you’ll be able to sing along to after a few listens. “Attack The Moon” comes ripping out of your speakers immediately with frantic drumming and wrist-destroying picking before settling down into cleaner, funky jazz sections. “Two Guys One Beam” sounds like hyperspeed punk rock with just a touch of modern black metal, launches into beautiful atmospheric sections that lets delayed guitars float into the distance, and ends on a double-time breakdown showstopper that’s all directed by the blows of a traffic whistle. “C-137” is an exercise in reharmonization under a dreamy piano line and “Griever” would make every guitarist looking to do that whole “clean guitar tapping mathcore” thing back in 2010 flat out shit themselves.
Where Fall Of The Albatross succeeds over similar bands in the genre is threefold. The first is their personality. There’s not a single artist out there making music that sounds similar enough to Fall Of The Albatross where you’d start drawing blatant comparisons. Fall Of The Albatross, for this EP anyway, is a group of four guys whose chemistry together results in something genuinely unique and fantastically progressive. The music is complicated, but there’s always a main theme or rhythmic focal point running through any given segment that provides a solid ground for the rest of the band to go nuts without veering too far off course
The second point is this – Fall Of The Albatross is progressive metal done right. There are no sections on Abscission that feel like meandering segues just so they can get to the next interesting bit. Every second has a purpose. When I got to the end of the song “C137” the first time I heard the EP, I was momentarily a little annoyed that the group put such a cool guitar lick right at the end. Then “Griever” came on and essentially told me to be patient, as Fall Of The Albatross was about to play that melody many more times and in a much better context.
Then there’s the fact that Abscission is a ton of fun. Beyond the incredible musicianship and endless barrage of catchiness, Abscission is going to make you smile. I dare you to get to the end of “Two Guys One Beam” and not laugh, or even arrive at the skronky smooth jazz of “Attack The Moon” and have your mood not uplifted. This is what progressive metal misses sometimes in all its seriousness and more-technical-than-thou songwriting. Plus, Abscission‘s lighthearted moments aren’t overtly lighthearted to the point of being unberably cheesy parodies of themselves. Fall Of The Albatross can have fun in their own music and not ruin the overall flow.
Abscission is fantastic and bodes well for the future of Fall Of The Albatross. The band hasn’t put out new material in four years, and even right after this release lost drummer Anthony Wong. Fall Of The Albatross says despite the hardships, they’re excited to start a new chapter in their career, and after hearing Abscission, I’m excited to hear it.
Buy Abscission here.