KRYPTOS – Afterburner
My first contact with this trio of Nolan Lewis (vocals, rhythm guitars), Rohit Chaturvedi (lead guitars, keyboards, additional vocals) and Ganesh Krishnaswamy (bass, additional vocals), was when I pondered the option of downloading the promo of this here, their 5th full length. As my custom is to just pre-listen to one track before making a decision to download it for review (many don’t pass), I usually play track 7, if available, and so the excellent "Mach Speed Running" became the litmus test. Featuring very catchy memorable riff melodies and excellent instrumental performances, this is the absolute stand out on "Afterburner". Having listened to the whole album I have now changed my sampling to Mosaic standards of 2 or 3 witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15) before making a judgment on whether I want to take time to evaluate the album (for better or worse rating).
The remaining 7 tracks (to answer your implied question) are not quite up to standard set forth by "Mach Speed Running", which is strange, considering this was not a front-runner (usually included in the haulix as a video) but was arbitrarily chosen by me as a sample track. Half of the album is devoid of actual choruses, 3 of which just verses on and on with changed lyrics for a pseudo-chorus. Now, I realize that plenty of ancient 80s heavy metal and thrash songs are written that way – just the song title repeated twice or thrice in lieu of a chorus but even then, there’s a changed riff if only briefly. Imagine Judas Priest’s "Breaking The Law" or Iron Maiden’s "The Number Of The Beast" with just the verses or Metallica’s "Seek And Destroy" never getting to "searchiiiing, seek and destroy" or Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine never singing "If there’s a new way – I’d be the first in line" in "Peace Sells But Who’s Buying". That’d be pretty boring, eh? Well, that’s just what "Afterburner" sounds like for the first 3 tracks, while the closer "Into the Wind" is actually varied enough that you don’t mind that it does not have a chorus, especially when the riffing recalls Mercyful Fate’s "Evil".
What of the chorus-ey tracks? They are such simple and basic metal that a cave man could do it, to borrow from a Geiko Insurance commercial. When they’re not bordering on bad (as there’s good) Arena – Oriented Rock (AOR) as in "Red Dawn", they are so boring and uneventful (The Crimson Queen, On The Run) that this may be the reason why, when it finally arrives, "Mach Speed Running" sounds so excellent and the following "Into The Wind" almost so. It’s never a good thing when, by the time you arrive at track 4 you seemed to have heard the whole album. It’s never a good thing when half the album devoid of choruses is still of a better quality than half the tracks that have choruses. And it’s never a good thing when there’s a single song worth writing home about followed by one which both fails at matching its quality and closes the proceedings. But such is the experience of "Afterburner". Perhaps it should have been called "Halfburner" to match both the overall quality and my score.
"Afterburner" is yet another example of the truth that you can have great musicians, excellent execution and a decent production and still come up with a mediocre outcome, because we can’t write more than 2 or 3 songs worth spinning the whole record twice. Save your money.