Krallice’s brilliance never eclipses their hearts

Photo: Justina Villanueva

I am not a guitar geek. By that, I mean I don’t play the guitar and, therefore, never will be one of those writers who uses a lot of terminology and whatnot when writing about songs, bands, or albums. There are those out there who do, and I always like reading their stuff because it helps me sort of understand things a little better, but I tend to write more based on feeling.

The reason I say this is because tackling the new album from Krallice would seem to necessitate some sort of boiling down the band’s musicianship, and that just ain’t happening here. Oh trust me, I’d love to imbibe some secret formula that would allow me to dissect what’s going on during the six tracks on “Diotima,” the band’s third album, but until I find said concoction, it isn’t possible. I can, however, tell you how, as a critical listener, the music struck me. And let’s face it: The percentage of people who buy this record to enjoy how the music sounds certainly will outweigh those who buy it to subsequently analyze the compositions. So I’m one of you!

I’m lucky enough to have been aboard the Krallice experience from their first record, an enthralling experience that only hinted at their brilliant future. Also, the 11-minute title cut from their second opus “Dimensional Bleedthrough” used to be the first song on my running mix when I was on the treadmill, because the song was so stupefying and relentlessly introspective, it always made me forget the grunt work because I was so caught up in the music, no matter how many times I heard the track. As expected, hopes were high for album three, and when it arrived in the mail from Profound Lore, it immediately went into my CD player because I had to start absorbing this thing immediately.

One thing that’s evidently clear from even the first listen is the emergence of Nick McMaster, their furious bass player who provides the gritty death metal wallop vocally. He’s the prevailing force here as his voice becomes THE dominant one (guitarist Mick Barr still contributes the shrieks, though he sounds more like a complimentary contributor now, which isn’t a bad thing), and he provided the philosophical vision for “Diotima.” Diotima of Mantinea was the female seer in Plato’s “Symposium,” and there is some debate as to whether she was a real person or simply a fictional character. Nonetheless, she came to symbolize Platonic love, and along with influence from German poet  Friedrich Hölderlin, himself fixated with her, and McMaster’s own work, you get a pretty good idea of the heady journey you’ll be taking. More disclosure: I don’t yet have the lyric sheet, so I can’t go much further into this subject, but that should be enough to intrigue those who can appreciate black metal subject matter that isn’t all blood, guts, and death, even if there are Apocalyptic themes interweaved here.

One thing about Krallice’s music, especially on this effort, is their combined brilliance sounds machine-like. It’s almost like no human could put all these complicated pieces together and have them hum so seamlessly. Yet, considering that, there’s also an evident element of human emotion, not just in McMasters’ and Barr’s vocals, but in the music itself. It transcends their collective brilliance and goes beyond four guys – McMaster, Barr, guitar virtuoso Colin Marston, and drummer Lev Weinstein — leveling you with how good they are. You feel something when all of this blends together, like some sort of craft spiraling you into space. But instead of growing queasy from the spinning, shaking and wind whips, you feel fulfilled, like you got to see a plane of living you never knew existed and would have no other vehicle in which to understand this level. Yes, I know it sounds like I dropped a shitload of pills and listened to “Diotima.” More full disclosure: I do zero drugs.

The first two cuts – instrumental opener “Untitled” and scary/savage “Inhume” – combined are not as long as any of the remaining four songs individually. Now, in the past, Krallice did have those times when they didn’t seem to know when to cut things off, and perhaps seeing the song lengths will make you think the same on the surface. Instead, their playing and understanding of the songs seems to have grown, and there’s really not a lot of open space that could be cut out. “The Clearing,” for example, is calculated nicely, with guitars hanging like a hurricane, then moving into a section that sounds like heavier early Rush, then ending in a panic of seething shrieks and a pocket of noise. The title cut and closer “Telluric Rings” are built much the same way, as both feel like they have necessary building blocks that logically pull you toward its conclusion. In fact, “Rings” has a drone fizzle out that feels perfect, like it all burned out in the end, just like you thought it would. These songs never even seem as long as they are, believe it or not. Only “Litany of Regrets,” with its delayed effects and tempo that tends to trudge along, feels a little tedious. Not a bad song by any means, just not one that lit my world ablaze.

So yes, guitar wizards will pull out their tablature paper and calculators and thick glasses and spend hours analyzing this thing. I really wish I was one of you. But if you’re like me and enjoy music for the sake of what it does to you inside, “Diotima” is their most giving effort yet. There’s an undeniable passion and catharsis to these songs, and even if you’re not following along with the lyric sheet in hand, you can understand what’s going on by connecting as a living, breathing, thinking human. Krallice are one of the most important young bands out there because not only do they care about making great albums, they make sure they leave a piece of themselves with their creations. That’s kind of rare these days, and it’s refreshing to know how much they care. It’s also one of the reasons parting with your cash for their creations always feels like hard-earned money well spent.

Speaking of value, Profound Lore is running a killer special where you can buy all three Krallice albums for an obscenely low price. I’ll link that up below.

To grab the Krallice collection, go here:

To buy “Diotima,” go here:

For more on Krallice, go here: