As we approach the end of 2022’s first month we bring you a full stream of one of the most relentlessly intense and unnerving albums that the new year has presented so far, The album is simply entitled X, and it’s the sophomore full-length by the Belarusian post-black metal band KRVVLA, which will be released on February 4th by Brucia Records.
Previously, the band had self-released one album and four EPs, but with X they have twisted their sound into even more harrowing directions, and have also added vocals for the first time, which only adds to the music’s terrorizing impact. As compared to what has come before, X is a more atmospheric work, but the atmosphere is one of utter calamity. The experience is like being engulfed almost non-stop in an overpowering maelstrom of dissonance and devastation — of rage, despair, oppression, and downfall.
KRVVLA explain this about the new album: “X is about the war of the Three Logoi, in which the Black Logos wins. It’s about the world falling into the primordial abyss from which it emerged; into the womb of the Great Mother; into the realm of matter devoid of ideas and spirituality; into the world of material things where nothing is eternal and decay is the only measure.
Such a bleak conception… but once you hear the album, you’ll understand how well the music matches it. The band are so completely dedicated to their vision that X provides no real reprieve from its world-devouring onslaught, and thus it’s probably fortunate that it runs for less than 30 minutes. Yet it’s so absolutely riveting that a diversion of some kind would have been unwelcome.
In the opening track “XI” slow bass notes meander through a collage of gleaming and ghostly ambient tones, creating a mysterious mood. But in “XII” the band break that brief spell with bursts of percussive tumult and a wall of scathing guitars. Torrid screams spit sulfuric acid, and the riffing becomes a crazed, roiling miasma of sound as the drumming continues to hammer and convulse. The surrounding music sears and soars, generating feelings of despair and derangement, and abyssal roars join forces with the possessed shrieks and fiery, flickering fretwork to magnify the intensity.
That song really is tremendously intense, pulse-pounding, and disruptive, and there’s no relent in the album’s electrifying intensity as it charges into “XIII”, which vents blasts of incendiary and bone-smashing sound. Wisely, the band briefly shift gears after that explosive opening, slowing the pace. But the torrent resumes — the drums thundering, the multiply layered guitars writhing and screaming, and the voices roaring and screaming, collectively creating a senses-consuming bonfire of madness.
With “XIV”, the music becomes more dismal and distraught, as the slashing chords, backed by less-crazed drumming, drenches the music in hopelessness. Yet the band turn those feelings of dread into feverish anguish, again overpowering the senses with a sonic typhoon of dissonance and discord — and they provide no opportunity to breathe before continuing to spin the vortex in “XV”. As in preceding songs, the scale of the music’s shattering calamity becomes towering. It sounds like a deluge of bombs and lightning, and massed voices of terrified victims howling beneath the onslaught.
Guitar sounds of grief moan and cry through the instrumental track “XVII”, a song anchored by attention-grabbing drum upheavals and earth-gouging bass lines. But it too becomes an unnerving convulsion, which continues unabated in the super-heated violence and dementia of “XVII”. There the riffing whirls and blazes, and the chords ring out in displays of frightening grandeur as the drums methodically hack at your neck and the bass undulates like a massive serpent. It seems at times as if a funeral bell is clanging through the hurricane, tolling for all whose lives are being extinguished in the apocalypse.
The closing track, “XVIII”, creates fear of a different kind. Sounds of eerie hooting, screaming, and howling come and go, encompassed by a deep bubbling drone that’s vast and void-like. It makes for a chilling conclusion — and it’s no surprise at all that KRVVLA would extend no hand in comfort when they bid us good-bye.
Ksenia Kundenko of Supruga performed guest vocals on “XV”. Drums and vocals were recorded by Pavel Sinilo at EverestMedia. Colin Marston handled guitar re-amping, mixing, and mastering for tracks XII-XVII. Tracks XI and XVIII were mixed by D.B. and mastered by A.G. at GASprod (both are members of KRVVLA, along with V. Sh. and A.D.). D.B. also created the obscure but frightening cover art. Layout and artistic direction were provided by Evokaos (Brucia Records).
Brucia Records will release X on digital, digipak CD, and limited edition tape formats, and recommends it for fans of Krallice, Au-Dessus, and Der Weg Einer Freiheit.