04 November 2008

An Albatross – The An Albatross Family Album

(2008, Eyeball)

These Pennsylvanians follow up the fantastic Blessphemy (Of the Peace-Beast Feastgiver and the Bear-Warp Kumite) (2006) with another detonation of manic Deep Purple-inspired grind. While outwardly very similar to the last album, An Albatross’ style is sufficiently individual to fuel another half an hour of cosmic bomb-blast.

…Family Album is a stylistic frenzy of splattercore guitars and screams. The skeleton of the piece suggests the late Blood Brothers’ ashes being ground up and snorted by zombie Nation Of Ulysses. Married to this, though, is a very 1970s sense of pomp. While Blessphemy… was like a monster of rock LP played at 45rpm, An Albatross mainly use the keys here as Slayer-esque stabs of rhythmic punctuation. A fine example of this is ‘...And Now Emerges the Silver Pilgrim’, an upwardly firing helter-skelter of pure strife.

The pace drops during ‘The Hymn of the Angel People’. Ostensibly the epic of the album, it beings in promisingly Bungle fashion before unravelling in over-long monologue. While no bad thing in itself, the quasi-mythical content fails to prevent the piece dragging. So much so that it negatively affects the flow of the album; Captain Ahab’s ‘Ride’ this is not.

The mix can sound cluttered at times, but ‘The Psychonaut & the Rustbelt’ is one of those occasions it all comes together. Zorny as fuck with saxophone squirking out the main phrases, it manages to be both extremely catchy and inordinately horrible. In a good way.

‘3,000 Light Years By Way of the Spacehawk’ is the real epic here. Beginning in a bluster of violin and latter-day Swans drone that combines to recall the Quebec of a decade ago, we’re soon plunged into a hyper-gravity world of sly black metal speed-riffing. And then all of the above at the same time, as it builds, builds, builds. Just when you think it can’t maintain integrity any longer, it doesn’t.

When winter’s setting in again, thoughts turn to the albums of the year. …Family Album is not concerned with such trifles. This is an album more like The Ramones, I Get Wet, Punk in Drublic or Reign in Blood: if you want a 30-minute blast of pure energy and enthusiasm, this is for you. And sometimes that’s all you need.

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