Originally reviewed here.
Albatross kicks things off with four out of the five songs on the split. Why so many? Well Vestal Claret's song is 18 minutes long, that's why. Albatross's music strongly resembles King Diamond's solo work and that seems to be the major influence. The songs generally tell some sort of horror story and feature very impressive lead guitar melodies weaving through traditional heavy metal riffs. The vocals are higher-pitched and include a lot of wailing and the occasional blood-curdling shriek. Singer Biprorshee Das does not have the range of King Diamond, but his voice is effective enough to match the horror atmosphere produced by the eerie melodies.
As previously mentioned, Vestal Claret is the new band from Philip Swanson, formerly of Hour of 13. I am well-familiar with Hour of 13, being one of my favorite recent traditional doom metal bands. They had a strong gift for songwriting, putting out some truly catchy material. I am not sure what happened to them but seeing Swanson in a new band makes me feel better. Sure enough, that is exactly what this song is, catchy, traditional doom metal. It is slow but demands attention. Swanson's voice is terrific, exhibiting the gothic horror quality it has always had. The song is a trip.
I enjoyed both parts of this split. Vestal Claret probably did a little bit more for me on initial listens, mostly due to the fact that Das's vocals are definitely a grower. Both bands are impressive though.