Hybrid Nightmares - Almagest (Independent)

Melbourne's Hybrid Nightmares release impressive debut album Almagest.
Release Date: 
6 Oct 2017 (All day)

Since the release of The Four Ages EP series in 2015, progressive-melodic-blackened metal band Hybrid Nightmares have been one of the busiest bands on Melbourne’s live scene. Their captivating and entertaining costume-laden sci-fi-inspired stage show and explosive mosh pits have carved out a niche, as a formidable emerging band. Hybrid Nightmare’s debut album Almagest is, however, a whole new level. In keeping with the band’s design, it has retained the sci-fi charm so familiar to fans of Hybrid Nightmares, while introducing us to a new realm of potential for conceptual engagement, elegant composition, and musical proficiency.

As a concept album, Hybrid Nightmares have laced together an intriguing narrative with carefully structured score. Broadly the album’s concept has been mapped out based on Aristotelian cosmology and the geocentric model of the universe, which begins with the Earth at the centre and extends outwards to each known heavenly body that circulates the Earth. Almagest is presumably named for the great force behind the movement of the concentric circles at the outermost of this model, a precursor for the idea of a divine cosmic hand. The actor of Almagest is the Pilgrim, who is taken on a Dantean journey through the realm of the spheres.

Hybrid Nightmares have clearly put some serious research yards in to extend this ancient concept into its greater metaphysical form. The journey is structured as a dialectic – the Pilgrim is guided by two opposing informants, one of Reason and one of Faith. As the journey begins in the grave, the basic metaphysical question borne of Aristotelian thought of “what is existence?” plays out for the subject through the dichotomy of science and spirituality that lay at the heart of Enlightenment esotericism concerning the study and worship of the cosmos.

At times celestial and at others pulverising, Almagest captures these dualities musically without theatrical overload. Two pronounced examples of this are the shifting dynamics and diversity of texture that signal the narrative in ‘Mercuri’, and the slower paced monastic vocals and ritualistic mood of ‘Sol’ that impressively crescendos into harsh militant onslaught.

Lyrically this is a brilliant and memorable album. Vocalist Loki has a wide range from clean to guttural sound and has worked the characterisation on Almagest with laudable skill. The appropriate use of differing voices is evident in the brutally mid-paced exploration of Mars, ‘Ultor’. A lyrically standout track is ‘Luna’ with beautifully poetic verse in blackened snarl. Almagest is however not reliant up on storytelling to scaffold its concept. The interplay of guitarists Michael Gumley and Ben Plant on tracks such as ‘Luna’ and ‘Jupiter’ is transcendently fitting of the respective planetary theme.

While it is difficult to pick a standout track from a concept album so tightly interwoven, ‘Lucifer-Vesper’ really demonstrates why Hybrid Nightmares are one of Australia’s rising-star bands. This track is dark, seductive, and representative of the core dualities and temporal shifting embedded in the album’s theme. Obviously, the Morning and Evening Stars are the ultimate duality, as the one planet Venus, and heavily associated with Satan and the practice of occultism in the early modern period. Powerful drums, robust bass, and silky guitars with awesome solos move from mysterious to destructive to serene in a perfect alignment to the tensions of Venus. Definitely a track that is going to murder moshpits wherever this band goes.

Almagest grows more celestial the further outward it goes, from the acoustic instrumental piece ‘Saturni’, to the interlude ‘Firmamentum’ and then to the profound finale of ‘Almagest’, the journey through the spheres now complete.

The framework of the Aristotelian universe works fantastically and is completely captivating. Almagest is a sophisticated concept album with depth and complexity, which sacrifices no heaviness for cosmic atmosphere and marks Hybrid Nightmares as a band that can only get stronger.

Almagest is out now