Our culture is one of constant advancement towards greater heights of user friendliness and efficiency. We seem to be always striving for a more streamlined and easy approach to any and all facets of life. Most mass market films tend to be made following a kind of market appeal algorithm so as to bring in the biggest box office profit, and there are countless bands from any genre that have made careers off either refusing to change and explore new sounds, or else drawing nearly completely from others who’ve found great success, which opens the floodgates to a mass of copycats and straight up boring output. All in the name of attracting the most people to the product, in hopes that it will gain attention and recognition.
Now, look to Krallice, a band who stands as an unflinching example of artistic integrity and daring, and a group who’s sound, for a very long time, I really did not like… at all. And at first listen it may repel most listeners. This is most likely the case since the group has put out eight releases and is not mentioned often or at all among the majority of metal fans. Krallice’s sound is intense and immediately overwhelming, like a swirling metallic storm, whose winds are hurling shards of broken mirrors in all directions, and as you try to escape, the ground beneath your feet betrays your footing with a gloss of slick black ice, leaving you thrashing about, lost and confused. I know, that doesn’t sound like the optimal listening experience, but, as was the case with myself, you have to learn to listen to Krallice. You’ll quickly find that you can’t just flip on a song casually to drone on in the background. When you listen to Krallice, you listen to Krallice, or else risk being swept up and swiftly drowned. When I was finally able to steady myself and see through the seemingly indecipherable maelstrom of tremolo picked guitars and rumbling blast beats, I was let in on the secret truth that lies at the heart of it all: emotion, drama, intensity, story.
Having looked back on my favorite bands of all time, or those that have stuck with me throughout the years, they have all been groups whose sound, at first, didn’t click with me, yet that also hooked me into returning and trying again to really “get” it. I think it’s safe to say that Krallice have become one of the groups that I will always come back to simply due to sheer originality in their approach to ‘done-to-death’ genres such as black and death metal, as well as the effectiveness with which they are able to instill feelings into the listener.
In short: Krallice make you work for the pay off with their music, but the payoff is oh so sweet!
For Krallice fans, 2016 was a year capped at both ends, each with a short but sweet release. Early on in the year, we were given “Hyperion”, and just as the year was coming to a close, the band’s eighth release, “Prelapsarian” formulated out of the ether to assault the senses. A four song hit and run ambush, Krallice tease us with small portions to hold us over until the next titanic LP the likes of “Diotima” or “Years Past Matter” comes to fruition. Though a brief release for this group is still chalk full with enough depth and content to rival an average LP by another standard Black/death metal band. Each track on Prelapsarian is distinct and fascinating, though two of the four tracks are tragically brief, especially in regards to the second, Hate Power, which is able to forge incredible intensity along its barely four minute running time. In contrast to this, the other shorter track, Conflagration, happens to be the album’s weakest link. Still an enjoyable enough listen and technical as all hell, I found that what it retained in musicianship and complexity, so it lacked in overall emotional impact, though I’ve felt this before about previous Krallice releases, until subsequent listens eventually uncover the true nature of a song… so perhaps Conflagration has yet to really ‘bloom’ for me. As for the two monolithic tracks capping the album at either end, both Transformation Chronicles and Lotus Throne only serve to carry on the reputation of this band as true masters of musical craftsmanship. Either track clocks in at over ten minutes, yet flies by in a haze that leaves you reeling and questioning what it is you’ve just experienced.
As you can probably tell, I REALLY love this band, and as I wrap up this article, I am realizing it is more of an artist spotlight than an actual album review. Every time they find a way to both enrapture and endlessly frustrate me. Krallice have found a way with every release to experiment and unveil new spins on old themes in the metal genre. Within almost any of their records, black metal, death metal, progressive metal: all are one in the eye of this storm. Nicholas Mcmaster’s bass strings dance elegantly with Colin Marston/Mick Barr’s blazing tremolo’s, altogether acting as a metallic choir of singing guitars. And rumbling up from the belly of the earth, Lev Weinstein’s percussion envelopes all in a vicious earthquake that persists the forward motion of each song. Listen to any track from any album and it is plain to see that these guys are masters of their craft; scientists pushing the boundaries of their field.
Another thing worth mentioning is the album’s production. With Colin Marston, the renowned music producer lurking in Menegroth, making up one half of Krallice’s guitar line, it comes as no surprise that Prelapsarian, as well as the group’s previous albums, sounds fantastic. In an interview conducted years ago by Metal Injection with both Mcmaster and Weinstein, the two talked about how the band were turning towards live recording of songs, with each member playing all at the same time, as in a live show. This approach definitely shows through, as you can hear the spill from each instrument’s mics, and there is a looseness to the whole recording that gives it a really organic feel. Contrasting starkly with other highly technical bands who crank out songs that feel almost completely artificial and engineered in post, Krallice’s sound comes off as real, with no bells and whistles needed.
*Live Video below courtesy of Max Volume Silence (Youtube)
If you have an open mind, appreciate experimentation, and like extreme metal on the edge, I urge you to give this group a listen. It won’t be easy, in fact it might drive you insane. Or maybe you’ll just hate it! But for those who can appreciate this kind of music, you may well find it’s some of the best out there.
Here’s a link or two!