REVIEW: KRYPTOS – “Afterburner”
One of the most satisfying parts of being a maniac metalhead constantly looking for new bands to improve my useless knowledge of the lifestyle I love is when I find obscure corners of the world (only metal-wise, hold your pants) with awesome acts, which I did with Kryptos back when the Indians released the good ‘The Ark of Gemini’ in 2008. These dudes have been waving the flag of traditional metal since 1998, so the battle-worn experience is a welcome one for their fifth album, ‘Afterburner’.
Running at a lean 40-minute mark, the Bangaloreans don’t mess around with fruity stuff, ripping through the songs with a proto-thrash/traditional heavy metal approach full of crunchy riffs, chaotic attitude and simplistic songwriting embellished by a raw style of playing.
As we already expect from these guys, the guitar work is tight and prolific, which can be seen right from the start of the title track. The sexy leads are accompanied by Nolan Lewis’ gruff and harsh vocals, somewhat similar to that of Kreator’s Mille Petrozza. The entire album feeds on the frantic guitar work and Lewis’ organic vocal performance, sounding almost unintelligible at times and providing a good amount of “trveness” to the effort.
“Cold Blood” and “Dead of Night” continue on with above average riffs, but this time around in a more mid-paced approach. Enforcer, early Skull Fist and RAM come to mind as similar sounds. “Red Dawn” slows things down and feels somewhat detached from the band’s proposal here, despite having quality. The voice and overall atmosphere don’t match with the musical direction, so it seems strange to hear this in the middle of the record.
The traditional heavy metal style often paves the way to more melodic songwriting, and Kryptos takes advantage of this with “On the Run”, a direct, yet honeyed take on the 80’s metal antics. The song features killer guitar performances by Lewis and Rohit Chaturvedi, notably in the awesome solo, the best one in the album for sure.
“Crimson Queen” and “Mach Speed Running” are the craziest of the bunch, with some experimentation on the instrumental parts. The former chases the mid-paced concept used throughout the album while adding some twists in the guitar department, and the former – my favorite song here – drinks from classic giants such as Accept and Judas Priest, especially in the lead verses and guitar melodies.
There are not enough thrash moments to point out, but it’s clear that they drink from that fountain even in this album, as the influences such as Death Angel, Kreator and Destruction are clear in the band’s sound. Production is what we would expect from an AFM release, courtesy of Anupam Roy – who has worked with Kryptos before – and while the dynamic range isn’t wide, you can still hear all instruments with ease.
By comparison, ‘Afterburner’ isn’t as impactful or memorable as fellow countrymen Against Evil’s album, ‘All Hail the King’, but is a really cool piece of heavy metal with that NWOTHM vibe and some glimpses of thrash. Kryptos has been a reality for a while now, and it seems to me that being the first Indian metal band to ever tour Europe is only the first one of many considerable achievements these dudes will conquer. Buy this album.