(Regular NCS contributor BadWolf continues to explore an alternative to traditional album reviews in this, his latest “critique”. The subject is the new offering from New York’s Krallice, scheduled for release by Profound Lore on April 26.)
Krallice’s Diotima record reminds me most of the scene in David Fincher’s Fight Club where the narrator and Tyler Durden are speeding in a car along a bridge and release the steering wheel. Speed increases, their trajectory veers, and tension increases because the logical conclusion is not foregone, but seems pretty inevitable. The anxiety, the dark sound in that scene comes from a desire to see the characters crash and by proxy for the audience to feel the impact of a death, or near-death, experience. Sartre was obsessed with looking off the edges of cliffs because he felt (and believed all people felt) a sublime desire to jump.
Krallice in 2011 feels like that razor’s edge between stillness and leaping when the band fires on all cylinders. There is a constant sense of swerving momentum which is in the most focus. The feeling is not unique to Krallice—Iron Maiden’s Aces High is about harnessing the freefall effect, and at their best Metallica and Gojira can evoke the same reaction. Diotima is the first record I’ve heard to emphasize it to this degree. (more after the jump . . .)
Black Metal typically feels like straight lines; the innovation is the curving, accomplished by much-lauded technical guitar playing. People focusing on the technical/shreddy aspects here (because of Krallice’s members working in Gorguts, Dysrhythmia, etc.) will miss the point because those techniques are means to an end. You can clap along a 4/4 beat to huge swatches of Diotima. The magic of Krallice is in the use of serpentine, intertwining melodies. It’s a re-imagination of how metal can be symphonic. I hear the guitars aren’t always in the same tuning, which sounds batty but is used so well here I think more bands should experiment with it.
More than that, I think the bright, expressive quality to the music is impossible to duplicate because it comes as much from Colin Marston and Mick Barr’s personal finger technique as from the actual notes they play. You can hear flesh on string. Diotima sounds alive and hand-crafted, something Black Metal seems to do particularly well and more music would exhibit in my idealized fantasia. The songs are punctuated by those blasts of amplifier feedback one only gets in an intimate space, and rest assured this is a noisy record (the cymbal cascades here are a highlight). You can hear four men in a room making Diotima, but the sounds they make have a life of their own at times.
Bands are making more and more albums based on longform black metal with variable twists of industrial, indie, folk or other elements—it has not approached re-thrash levels of glut yet, but the trend is becoming apparent. In the face of this, Krallice have secured a sound all their own, and on Diotima even flirt with great songwriting. If they keep writing an album a year (workaholics…), Krallice may become masters of the domain they begin to explore on Diotima.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Not so long ago, we featured in these pages a fantastic new track from Diotima called “The Clearing” (click here for that). Here’s one more for those interested in moving further out toward the edge of the precipice, and looking down. It’s called “Telluric Rings” , and it’s fantastic:[audio:http://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/06-Telluric-Rings.mp3|titles=Krallice: Telluric Rings]