(Andy Synn, our resident Krallice curator, offers his thoughts on the band’s new album)
Is there anything less surprising than a surprise Krallice release any more?
Not that it’s a bad thing by any means. Honestly, I love that the group continue to do things their own way and work to their own timescales, rather than trying to live up to any outside expectations or bow to external pressures.
But if you ask any group of metalheads (well, those of a more “underground” disposition, at least) the question “what band just dropped a brand-new album out of the blue?” I bet 9 out of 10 of them would immediately say Krallice without hesitation.
On their new album, however – their second of 2023 – the band have an even bigger surprise up their collective sleeve… a direct sequel, both stylistically and spiritually, to 2020’s Mass Cathexis.
After listening to Mass Cathexis 2 several times and making some detailed (and some less-detailed) notes about it, I went back and re-read what I wrote about the original Mass Cathexis back in 2020.
As it turns out, as much as I liked that record (and as much as I still like it) one of my chief complaints about it was that it sounded more like two different EPs roughly joined together than a singular, cohesive album.
And while the same could be said about the sequel – with the band themselves tacitly acknowledging this on their Bandcamp page by crediting two different line-ups for tracks 1-4 (Mass Cathexis 2) and songs 5-8 (The Kinetic Infinite) – the overall experience this time around feels less like like the product of a split-personality and more like a conscious effort to bridge the gap between the two sides of the band’s collective cerebral cortex.
On the one side of things… let’s call it the left-brain side… you have tracks like “Absorption” and “Therianthropy”, which are inarguably some of the heaviest and most technical songs the band have ever put out, showcasing the group in all their twisted, angular glory and reminding you that, for all that they’ve cultivated a reputation as avant-garde artistes over the years, Krallice haven’t forgotten how to throw down.
On the other side… the right-brain side… things are somewhat stranger – though no less sinister – in nature, with the band’s burgeoning love of synth-bass taking them to some weird and wonderful places on songs such as “Let the Wind Take Them” and “The Blatancy of Fulfilment”, where low-end digital strobes and high, chiming notes clash and coalesce around a central core of brittle, buzzing distortion and off-kilter percussive patterns.
The divide between the two, however, is not as wide as it first seems (music, after all, is one sort of stimulus which engages both sides of our brains) as there’s an overarching sense of increased aggression and intensity on display here which serves to tie the two sides of the album together as the product of a distinct place and time (the electrifying “Never Create Another” for example, has just as much nervous energy as any of the first four songs).
Not only that, but particular credit should go to drummer Lev Weinstein for his creative work behind the kit, as it’s his ability to constantly adapt his approach, while still maintaining and serving the underlying flavour and momentum of the music across all eight tracks – from the thrashier, blastier strains of “Liquid-Remembered Vessels” to the haunting urgency of “…And Then Erase Existence” – which serves as perhaps the key factor in this record’s success.
There’s an argument to be made, of course, that what Krallice have done here is try to have their cake and eat it too, by simultaneously indulging their more aggressive urges and their more experimental impulses, and that by attempting to do so there’s a chance they’ll end up leaving some of their audience a little unsatisfied.
And while I have some sympathy with this argument – honestly, I probably would have preferred a full-length focusing solely, and more deeply, on one side or the other of the band’s sound as presented here – it also overlooks the overall quality of the material here which, from where I’m sitting at least, makes it not just a superior sequel to the original Mass Cathexis but also the better of the band’s two releases this year as well.
And that’s not something to be dismissed lightly.