originally written by Jim Brandon
“Rest your weary brow in laughing sighing boughs / Soothe your fevers in the pulsing bark and rot / And dream of nothing…”
While we’ve seen and heard many established artists put out new releases to help close out the decade, a number of “buzz” bands sure weren’t lacking for entries this year either. Baroness, Ahab, Ulcerate, and Cobalt definitely made themselves noticed, but witnessing Krallice reappear with a 77 minute monstrosity so soon after their self-titled debut last year was a little worrying. Don’t expect me to wax philosophical over the hipster tag many folks have thrown upon the band, because if there’s something especially trendy about their sound, I’m deaf to it. What I do hear on Dimensional Bleedthrough is a massively orchestrated blending of not just earthy black metal, but also sizable amounts of death metal, and a lengthy foray into pure ambience, all of which are immediately identifiable due to the highly energetic mix of technical finesse and seething rage that ambitiously surged forth on their debut. Whether their audience will grow is questionable, but the fans they already have should be very happy with these results.
To be honest, I don’t fully understand Krallice. I’m not even sure I pronounce their name correctly. What is understandable is the seemingly bottomless supply of riffs the band is apparently capable of creating on a whim, so much so that it surprises me to know there are tabs of their songs floating around out there considering the almost totally improvised feel so much of their material gives off. But beyond the steadily distanced comparisons to both Weakling, and Wolves In The Throne Room, there’s just something different about this New York City quartet that’s very hard to peg. There’s something so angular and unconventional about the off-kilter nature of their blastbeats throughout, or the inexhaustible cascade of whirling, twisting riffs of the leadoff title track, and the shockingly violent, primal death metal roar of the superb “Autochthon”. Their shameless mix of extremities into a more individualistic hybrid was merely flirted with on the self-titled, but this album embraces, extracts and devours the essence of all deadly musical arts like a black widow in her web, yet remains famished.
The band goes through riffs the way football teams go through cheerleaders; emotionlessly, and with no attachment. They’ll take a riff and mercilessly abuse it for all it’s worth for a few cycles, only to heartlessly abandon it and move on to ravage yet another helpless, flailing batch of atonal chords. However, this isn’t complete chaos theory. There is steadfast order to this sprawling construct, for the contrasts are not placed piecemeal or randomly, and plentiful bursts of tweaked melodic segues helps to avoid sounding too matte. They intend to capture you, detain you only of your on volition by constantly stringing along more and more layered textiles, revealing more treble swathed secrets, but occasionally they let the safety line run out, allowing you to fall off the precipice into a whirlpool of midrange, and constantly shifting rhythms. Sometimes they’ll go through a cycle that sounds like your CD player is stuck, skipping in repetition, then things suddenly launch into a flurry of almost folksy hyperactivity. As a quick criticism, a few pronounced solos here or there wouldn’t have hurt, and a few longer tracks beg for them, with “Monolith Of Possession” coming the closest to producing shredding.
What death metal elements arise are more of the apocalyptic variety than from the dirty, grimy (but still cool) Dead Congregation school. There is a theatrical yet decidedly non-campy feel to those throat rupturing bellows, the dissonance of those guitars, and the rumble of the double bass drums. You will most definitely encounter the heat of American black metal in abundance, for this is almost the complete opposite of the frigid chill of Norway, the sprightly sophistication of the UK, or the psychotic weirdness of France. This is a whole new breed of grimness, and a fresh, smoldering new nihilism. From fast, to faster, there is an abundance of bright life juxtaposed with sheer desolation (“Avidity” is capital) , all the while produced with an attention to detail that’s almost scary without overplaying the hand that twists the knobs.
Without a doubt, the realm of black metal, especially in the United States, is deeply in a state of transition, redefining what it means to progress. The howls of Krallice should be a small token of evidence to the fact that nothing that stays the same for too long will continue to exist in prosperity. This progression is not weak, but ballsy, and rife with exuberantly pronounced bass guitar, frantic speed, and a warped vision of gorgeously hellish sounds. The album cover is key to the tones within, because there isn’t a whole lot of darkness to wade through, instead, this horror is made for daylight.
Yes, black metal is knee-deep in change, but the viruses that shift and alter themselves are the viruses that live longer, and kill more. This is metal aimed towards an audience that eschews quick fixes, and avoids the common norms, yet they miss reinvention by a few lengths. Are they evolutionary? Absolutely. I have no doubt that Krallice take black metal to new places, yet it never comes across as trying too hard, and that’s the scariest part of it all. The effortless barbarity of “The Mountain” (the “Timehusk” of this album), along with the hypnotic swell of “Intraum” is enough to make me realize these guys still have room to amp up the intensity on future albums, and considering the realm of influences to behold in music, the possibilities for mass aural casualties of many kinds are boundless. Whether they’re overrated or not is only for you to decide, purists and genre-jumpers alike, but their talents are tough to deny.
If you have the time to spare, throw on some headphones or crank up a good stereo, indulge in whatever substances you prefer, allow yourself to get lost and overwhelmed in over an hour and fifteen minutes of the rambunctious sounds of Dimensional Bleedthrough, and experience an early weekend afternoon that will make the night’s arrival all the more calming. One of the very best of an incredibly good year.