Indian thrash/heavy metal band Kryptos celebrated their twentieth anniversary last year and show no signs of slowing down with their fifth album Afterburner. Since their inception the group’s showed a flair for capturing that old-school spirit, often treading a fine line between traditional heavy metal and thrash, and that’s what they’ve once again excelled at on this eight-track release. Though some of the slower moments do drag a bit, when Kryptos reaches scorching highs and reach the type of intensity that will make you want to headbang until your neck breaks they prove to be just as appealing as the heavy hitters in the genre.
The album starts off with some of its fastest and intense riffs, coming in with the raging spirit of thrash and a healthy dose of heavy metal. You’re instantly met with a production that keeps just the right amount of raw edge while emphasizing the guitar riffs so that they can soar across your speakers. After its initial burst of speed Afterburner settles into a balance between these faster sections and mid-tempo heavy metal, doing justice to both 80s thrash and NWOBHM in equal doses. What works in Kryptos’ favor is that even with this decidedly old-school flair, they never seem to be falling too close to one particular band’s template and shake things up often enough to keep each song feeling fresh. “Mach Speed Running” and “Crimson Queen” are great examples of this, where the fire and energy of the instrumentals makes you want to get in your car and speed down the highway with the volume cranked. Admittedly as the tempos slow down during some of the longest tracks I did find that some of the passages felt like they dragged on a little too long, but it wasn’t enough to keep me from coming back for more.
Vocalist Nolan Lewis’ pitch skews towards the harsher end of the spectrum, with his screams reminding me a bit of classic German thrash bands like Kreator and Destruction. There’s the right amount of bite to each verse but it’s delivered in a way that makes the lyrics easy to make out, and that suits the sound that Kryptos is going for perfectly. Afterburnerhas been mixed so that the vocals stand slightly above the instrumentals and come through with the maximum intensity, grabbing you by the throat from one song to the next without wavering in intensity. Nolan might stick around the same general range for much of the album, but the grit that it adds to the material is appealing and it’s great to hear it in your face rather than buried in the mix.
Kryptos strikes that fine balance of everything 80s heavy metal and thrash without falling into predictability. Though some of their slower sections drag on, the high-flying riffing and sheer amount of energy throughout the course of the album makes it another strong showing from this long-running group. While there may be a lot of acts out there trying to channel the fire and grit of the classics, Kryptos continues to get closer with each album and deserves your attention. Afterburner is out now on AFM Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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