So, were you like me last Thursday, getting to work or waking up or whatever and discovering that Krallice has gifted the earth with a new album? Holy shit, what?! Considering the amount of news I receive all the damn time from publicists, labels, and people I know who are in bands or are promoters, this knocked me on my ass. There are not enough surprises these days in metal or anywhere, but this definitely hit like a comet striking an ocean. Pick an ocean. It was like that.
Yeah, it was true. Krallice’s fifth record “Ygg huur” struck the planet, and just like this band is wont to do, it opened up yet more new cosmic layers in the group’s style. These guys long have been enveloped in the black metal area, which certainly fits, but as time has gone on and the band has morphed into an even weirder thing, so has their sound followed suit. You can call it prog, avant-garde, whatever you want, but on this new record, Krallice are a massive as ever before yet also are a lean, mean fighting machine. This is their most compact release to date, clocking in at almost 36 minutes, which might feel like an EP for people who have followed the band from their 2008 self-titled debut. But this shorter style fits them perfectly as they maintain the weird, progressive path they’ve been on, but they do it in a more succinct, more in-your-face manner. By the way, you can have this now digitally from the band’s Bandcamp site, or by CD that should ship in September. But if you want to wait for the vinyl, Gilead Media has you covered coming this autumn (link below to all of these, but keep checking back with the Eroding Winds site for the vinyl).
Most of us know the responsible parties by now, but for any newcomers, let’s just rattle off the lineup. On bass an vocals is Nicholas McMaster, on guitars and vocals is Mick Barr, on guitars is Colin Martson (who also is producer to the underground stars), and on drums is Lev Weinstein. Each guy has an impressive resume in his own right with other bands and duties, but it all really comes down to Krallice, one of the most unique and influential black metal bands not only in the U.S. but across the world. This band is a special, once-in-a-movement group that has created new standards and proved that black metal, and metal in general, can be as daring, bizarre, and rubbery as it wants to be, and if you have a problem with that, isn’t that just your fucking issue?
“Idols” kicks off the record, the briefest cut on here at 3:08 and one of the shorter songs in their catalog. It’s a frenzy from the start, with riffs simmering and then boiling over, wild howls running rampant, melodies flexing their strangely developed muscles, and a noisy back end getting you nice and dizzy. “Wastes of Ocean” begins a run of four songs that all clock in at exactly 6:41 (those crafty bastards!). There is a mesmerizing opening that gets you thinking they’re headed one way, meaning you won’t be expecting the ignition. The band chugs hard and totally mauls, with the vocals sounding particularly unhinged, the melodies combusting, and manic energy filling the air. The song hits a meaty breakdown later, with spacey winds blowing through, every element whirring together like an engine, and cartoon-like speed and ferocity making it seem like a Tom & Jerry episode where everyone dies at the end. “Over Spirit” crushes everything in its wake, with the guitars exploring the outer edges, tricky, off-the-wall playing arriving, and things going in all kinds of directions. Give up trying to predict its path and just go with it into the plastering nightmares, through the melodic vitriol, through the ever-changing landscape, into the bass spitting fire at the track’s end.
“Tyranny of Thought” is massively, impossibly heavy at the start, with crazed vocals zapping over the scene and the band speeding up and heading into full demolition mode. The bass throbs, the guitars rise, and every few sequences or so, the track reinvents itself and adds new layers while shedding others. The final minutes of the song are absolutely quaking, with the band thrashing away like mad scientists, the vocals lashing out, and everything coming to a violent end. “Bitter Meditation” smears and starts reverberating similar to a Portal song, creeping and crawling like an uncaged alien. The song hammers and convulses, with the vocals mangling, the pace throbbing away, and later a cataclysmic shift arriving that immediately goes in the opposite direction. The final moments boil viciously with a noise haze hanging in the air. Closer “Engram” rollicks forward dangerously, with clouds building and the vocals tearing out of the void. The band trudges and stymies at the same time, delivering both physical and mental beatings, while the guitars start to char with the bass taking its shots at you. More damage arrives as the song winds down, with the vocals sounding grim, weird passages taking over, and the band smothering you at the finish. What a fantastic, bewildering ride.
Krallice’s greatness has been on display for nearly a decade now, and each time they report back with a new album, it’s cause for celebration, dissection, discussion, etc. “Ygg huur” is very much like that, a challenging, disruptive, nerve-wracking, devastating record that establishes new rules once again. Bands are going to be trying to keep pace with Krallice for as long as they exist, and their surprise new record crushes us not only because it suddenly exists, but because it’s so damn great.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/krallice
To buy the album digitally or on CD, go here: https://krallice.bandcamp.com/album/ygg-huur
To buy the vinyl version this fall, go here: www.erodingwinds.com