Krallice_Ygg HuurKrallice is a band that often gets misunderstood. Forcibly shoved into a conveniently labeled drawer of “black metal,” the New York group was an easy target of both the trve black metal kvltists, condemning them for “mocking and desecrating the genre,” and the mainstream public, that couldn’t stand such “noisy wankery.” They’ve been cynically called “controversial,” “divisive,” “hipsters,” and “ostentatious,” often being mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Deafheaven and Liturgy, with whom they have little in common. In reality, Krallice was never anything more than a quartet of talented, creative musicians with backgrounds in the math-rock and tech-metal milieus who were dead set on playing innovative music rooted in black metal but unwilling to be limited by the genre’s conventions. Ygg huur, their fifth full-length release, is further proof of that ideal; a record marked by a violent, propulsive character that introduces a deep yet natural reinvention that could only be pulled off by a band disinhibited of any genre-induced boundaries.

Ironically enough, due to the brevity of the album (35 minutes), the music on Ygg huur appears superficially closer to traditional metal tropes, producing an aura of “accessibility, “ whilst in truth it’s never been so far removed from them. Gone are the long, epic tracks burdened by shoegaze riffs and drone segments. In their stead, the tunes branch out kaleidoscopically, intricate riffs alternate frantically, from insanely fast tremolos to dissonant squeals, and rhythms float and bounce spastically without any anchors. All of this makes the music extremely complicated, varied, and in many ways familiar to those who have heard either guitarist’s other bands (Colin Marston’s Behold… The Arctopus and Dysrhythmia or Mick Barr’s Orthrelm). The stylistic shift is evident right from the opening track “Idols;” a short, slow song with buried vocals, devoid of any blast beats, with Nicholas McMaster’s distorted bass weaving in a sinuous line. It’s like something off a Gorguts record – a fact not so surprising given Marston’s participation on Colored Sands. Dissonant and disjointed, “Idols” remains just the bud of a foreshadowed idea buzzing incessantly, gestating nervously, and wanting to break free from its pupa to transform into the monster that is the following track.

Because it’s “Wastes of Ocean” that shows the new Krallice in its full glory. It’s difficult to explain why this concoction works as well as it does. It’s gorgeous mayhem made of what feels like thousands of riffs, swaying harmonies, continuous changes in pace, occasional glimpses of groove and melody, and Lev Weinstein’s aggressive, angular drumming – all reverberating and smashing into each other. Each fragment in this maelstrom arises as a speck of dust briefly illuminated and suspended by rays of light only to morph into something else entirely. Subsequent tracks, especially the exquisitely brutal yet balanced “Over Spirit” and the angry, destructive “Bitter Meditation” all follow the same pattern. The result of such an approach are tunes that sound like digests of Krallice’s earlier records with a significant breakthrough in variety and inventiveness.

 

There’s method to this apparent songwriting madness, but it has almost nothing to do with what we’ve come to expect from metal. In contrast to their sonically dense, but structurally simple past works, Ygg huur leaves an impression of being compositionally convoluted and meticulously thought out. It’s as if instead of just name dropping Giacinto Scelsi for the sake of showing off, they opted to apply his microtonal and pitch-altering principles on a higher level. It’s an aspect of Krallice’s music that, along with the love-it-or-hate-it but quite fitting signature Colin Marston production, might scare off some listeners. Beside that, there are just two minor complaints which make Ygg hurr fall short of perfection: the occasionally undercooked fragments spilling from one song into another and the shouted, harsh vocals which frequently appear superfluous. Still, taking into account the creative urgency of this album which was recorded and released in less than a month, these shortcomings are understandable.

Appearances and stylistic changes aside, Krallice undeniably feels like the same band underneath. The emotions that were always there, hidden in the grueling sounds, are now much more prominent and obvious, emerging from behind the stereotypical veil of sterility and making the music enjoyable even without overanalyzing it. One of the best albums this year, metal or otherwise. Genres be damned.


Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: FLAC 16-bit
Label: Self-Released
Websites: krallice.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/krallice
Releases Worldwide: July 30, 2015

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  • AndySynn

    Yeah. I really, REALLY, liked this album as soon as I heard it. And I had (for some reason) fallen off the Krallice bandwagon in the last 4/5 years.

  • Martin Knap

    The cover is totally awesome, especially for a record like this.

    • Roquentin

      Krallice has always had nice covers, but no common theme between them. This one is one of their most minimalist, yet prettiest.

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Was expecting a 4.0. Fantastic review, definitely sounds like organized chaos. Not typically a fan of these extremes but definitely one for the end-of-year list!

    • Roquentin

      Thanks for the kind words. The sound that they achieved is fascinating because while it feels born from a “Fuck it, let’s do this!” attitude, there’s not a chance this could work if it wasn’t carefully planned.

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        I agree completely. Some of the riffs are mind-boggling.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    GREAT review dude. I still need to hear this.

    • Roquentin

      Thank you! You can stream the whole album on Bandcamp, BTW.

  • Wilhelm

    This music reminds me of what I didn’t like about the later Emperor stuff, too schizophrenic, not sticking to a riff or idea for more than a couple of seconds. For comparison’s sake, I would take the new Dodheimsgard over this.

    • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

      I think that’s a totally fair complaint but truthfully that’s what I like about it.

      I think a lot of the modern “black metal” bands are trying to recapture that feeling of chaos and tension that is no longer present in the genre. And I don’t mean becuase bands aren’t good but listening to black metal now as an established genre is much different than listening to it when it was the weird new thing a bunch of crazy kids were doing.

      The context really changes the tone of the music. You can buy Darkthrone at the mall Hot Topic, doesn’t mean they aren’t awesome still, but it’s hard to call it challenging music anymore.

  • Thatguy

    Great review.

    It’s a great album and it and the songs being shorter than the past ones does indeed give it a veneer of accessibility, but it’s an album with a cunning plan….

    I think it;s a 4.5 but I’m happy enough with 4.0

    • Roquentin

      Thanks! I’m saving the 4.5 for their next record. ;-)

      • Thatguy

        Ha!

        If they can better this then it will be really something

  • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

    Hell yeah! I’ve been listening to the shit out of this all week. I love the new direction after a bunch of slight variations between the other albums. You’re spot on about the Gorguts/Arctopus stuff seeping into the sound.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    So Roquentin… did you just name drop Giacinto Scelsi for the sake of showing off?

    • Roquentin

      No, in fact, I didn’t. The album name is inspired by one of Scelsi’s compositiion, “Ygghur”, from the three-piece suite for cello “Triphon, Dithome, Ygghur”.

      If I were to show off, I’d name drop Iannis Xenakis as the more significant composer.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        I thought the name came from misspelling “yoghurt”.
        Your comment made check who Giacinto Scelsi was, so thumbs up to you for making me learn something new today.

  • Doomdeathrosh

    I can see where the Liturgy comparison comes from. But this is a much more focussed Liturgy. Probably what Liturgy should be aiming for. But, the shouting vocals throw me off a bit. The riffs are so intensely amazing though!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Absolutely great description of the song “Wastes of Ocean” but I found the song itself failed to live up to the description.

  • Jess

    I like Krallice, but this record has too much fuzz and mud in its production for my taste. I think that Krallice’s riffs could really benefit from some cleaner tone.

    • Roquentin

      I think they wanted to hint at the black metal lo-finess of old with the production. Plus, it’s Colin Marston and his usually quirky understanding of “good sound”. I must say I didn’t mind it all that much, though.

  • OldManWolverine

    Probably unrelated but there’s a word in Turkish “Kraliçe” which translates to Queen in English.

  • SegaGenitals

    I didn’t get this album at first listen. Warms up with repeated listens.