Hailing from Melbourne’s outer eastern nebula known as Croydon, Hybrid Nightmares have risen above the precipice of Melbourne’s metal scene since their inception circa 2008. It’s been two years since they unleashed their dominating Four Ages EP collection upon us, after building the steep pillar of anticipation with a single and a self-titled release. Thank the Obelisk, their long-awaited debut full-length album Almagest is finally here.
Almagest takes us on the most paramount intergalactic journey in nearly 20 years – the best I’ve been on since Beastie Boys and Daft Punk’s “One More Time”. There’s even a weighted anime quality to the artwork, an appealing trait for metalheads and nerds alike. Adventure, riffs, melody, intensity, atmosphere, more riffs, stop me when I name something Almagest doesn’t have.
The first track “Terra” grips the listener like a viper, imbuing the no-nonsense, straight-to-business dominance as early as possible, only too reminiscent of “Emperor”, the opener to the self-titled EP from 2011.
The single “Ultor” was released not long ago, including a music video which gave viewers a glimpse at the band’s upgraded, and rather schmicko costumes. The music is progressive as is their visual presence. Hybrid Nightmares 101: They are no strangers to enticing old and new fans with shock and intrigue. They’ve transcended their black metal roots without losing any part of their unique metal niche.
That being said, how does one describe Hybrid Nightmares? Their music is exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole, a deliberate tactic on the band’s part, featuring elements of melodic subgenres amalgamated with obvious black metal influences.
Some of the guitar tones on Almagest bear subtle resemblance to Satyricon’s work, while many of the soaring leads depart any definitive style in the extreme metal spectrum. The guitar leads in the title track “Almagest” in particular dominate the incantation almost entirely, but very effectively.
Almagest in its entirety is the brainchild of all five band members operating as one functional entity. The journey feels like a collective fantasy, with persisting references to interplanetary bodies and Roman mythology. With the title track and “Jupiter” standing out as the riff masters of the record, other profound highlights include the chilling outro to “Mercuri” and the token ballad “Sol”, the latter featuring an interlude just begging to dominate a live set.
The album offers an active listen into Hybrid Nightmares’ overall sound, from their humble Croydon days to infinity and beyond (there’s a clever space reference in there somewhere). In the meantime, Hybrid Nightmares’ cult of Melbourne followers have a lot to look forward to with their live shows offering a great deal more to their already extensive diversity.