(Andy Synn has pounced with alacrity upon the just-released Prelapsarian by Krallice and prepared this timely review.)
Oh you poor, deluded fools… did you really think we were done with reviews, simply because we’re currently mired in the depths of Listmania? And did you really think that I was done writing, just because my week-long list-stravaganza, was finally done?
Perish the thought.
In truth I’d actually intended to get more writing done this week, but I ended up being busy practically all day (and all night) Tuesday, and somewhat hungover on Wednesday… so this is my first real chance to sit down and get my brain back into gear. Worry not though, as I have at least one more review, and this month’s edition of The Synn Report, planned for next week.
But, in the meantime, let’s cast our eyes (and ears) over Prelapsarian, the latest dose of extravantgarde extremity from the ever-prolific Krallice.
It feels wholly appropriate that the band have chosen to spring their latest release (is it an EP? Is it an album? Does it matter? It’s more Krallice, and that’s only ever a good thing) on us as the year draws to a close, since 2016 began with Marston, Barr, McMaster, and Weinstein dropping Hyperion into play like a veritable bolt from the blue.
There’s a certain symmetry to this that I find aesthetically pleasing.
Although thankfully that’s not all that’s pleasing about Prelapsarian.
Whereas Hyperion stood in direct contrast to the complex, angular skronk of Ygg Huur as a clear throwback to the band’s more atmospheric Black Metal roots (something which shouldn’t be a surprise, since the material for the EP was originally written around the time of Diotoma), the band’s latest release finds the NYC quartet achieving a new balance of sorts between the constant push and pull of all their influences and their ambitions, while also remaining as wilfully difficult and as contrarian as ever.
A rollercoaster ride of dizzying technical twists, morose, atmospheric touches, and surprisingly wicked (if somewhat unconventional) metallic hooks, opener “Transformation Chronicles” could well be one of the very best songs the band have ever produced, which is not something I choose to say lightly. The track’s masterful coagulation of styles – the furious intensity of Black Metal blended with jazzy atonality, dissonant fury melded with abnormal melody – is a testament to the unique musical vision of Barr, Marston, and Co., a vision at once incredibly dense and yet effortlessly spacious, which requires, even demands, multiple interpretations and re-evaluations of what’s being heard.
By way of contrast, the scuttling tremolo and skittering, spider-like fretwork of “Hate Power” is three minutes and fifty-two seconds of Krallice at their most savage and ferocious, delivering a blistering barrage of organic, finger-blurring technicality that would put most self-described “Tech-Death” bands to shame.
“Hate Power” is followed, in quick succession, by the blackened aggro-jazz stylings of “Conflagration”, a song which it will take more than a few cursory listens to fully digest, such is the variety of metallic flavours on offer – Doom, Death, Black, Punk, Prog, Drone. And yet, like all the best chefs, the band never allow one set of ingredients to overwhelm their palette at the expense of all the others, meaning every fresh bite of their signature sonic stew brings with it a fresh mix of tastes and tones.
Prelapsarian closes with the grim fandango of “Lotus Throne”, which finds Marston, Barr, and McMaster running helter-skelter up and down their fretboards, spilling forth hectic, nerve-jangling scales and passages of dissonant, abstract arpeggios over the top of Weinstein’s frenzied, almost feverish drumwork, the song dancing back and forth between melody and madness, discovering and discarding fresh new discords and disharmonies with every experimental, exotic twist and turn.
As superficially chaotic as the music of Krallice can seem, there’s always been order in the chaos, and a method to the madness. And their latest release is no different. In fact, for all its microcosmic complexity and elaborate, evolving sound, it’s impossible not to see Prelapsarian as the product of truly intelligent design.
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