Krallice keep giving surprises, team up with doom legend on mind-warping destroyer ‘Loüm’

Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Fool us three times? Come on now. There’s no such thing anymore as a surprise when it comes to NYC-based black metal experimentalists Krallice. They’ve lulled us to sleep too many times only to hit us with unexpected new music, so our guards are up now, you see.

Well, to their credit, the band did let us know this was coming. A new full-length record called “Loüm,” the band’s seventh album, was warned in social media posts by Krallice, but they didn’t say when they’d strike. Oh, and they did tell us they’d have a special guest on this one handling pretty much all of the vocals, that being Neurosis bassist Dave Edwardson. No big deal, you know? Just one of the most inventive black metal bands in existence teaming up with a doom demigod. Probably won’t be too many high expectations for this collection. So, this past Friday, there it was on their Bandcamp site, these gargantuan five new tracks along with one of the most intriguing guests spots ever, just waiting to be scrutinized. And wouldn’t you know it, but Krallice—guitarist/vocalist Mick Barr, guitarist Colin Marston, bassist/vocalist Nicholas McMaster, drummer Lev Weinstein—raised the bar yet again, and Edwardson fits right in with them, like a grisly, weathered glove. Make no mistake: This is decidedly a Krallice record, only with some extra layers of noise and a burlier voice out front. This is the next step in their evolution, one that should excite the piss out of all of their fans.

“Etemenanki” begins the record in the midst of a punishing tornado, as the pace blisters, and the bass playing rollicks. Edwardson’s furious growls then begin to pound away. “Consciousness resuming at a deeper level, forgotten realms remembered, false constructs revealed!” The music swims beneath that and fully disorients, while scathing cries and nasty shouts mix within a synth bath, giving off ample heat before the song comes to a gruff, but fiery, finish. “Rank Mankind” has guitars pouring generously, as a terrifying assault later is tempered so that control can be had momentarily. “Little man, you’re useless to me, I hate you, you have no value,” is shouted, a line that feels disgustingly spot on these days, while guitars spiral, and the tempo tramples. Synth rises out of that torment, finally floating off and glimmering on the horizon.

“Retrogenesis” is equally as pissed off and caustic, as tricky playing leads to delirium, and the song itself applies an ungodly amount of pressure to your tender temples. The bass flexes its muscles again while noise flutters, and then the thing is torn to shreds, coming to a devastating end. The title cut blasts from the gate, but it takes its time building its foundation, letting you take a beating for a while first. The vocals tear into the flesh of the song as the music goes cold, leaving chills all over your body. Screams and growls smear together, while the band unleashes a monster out of that calm pocket, and the playing gets even more dangerous and compelling. The speed increases, sounds hover, and the track stings right to its final moments. Closer “Kronus Deposed” has an insane beginning, as melodies twist, chaos spreads, and again, we’re trapped at the heart of the storm. Guitars create a thick fog, while the rhythms chop put of that, and a perplexing stretch picks up. The final few minutes of the song are some of the most exciting of any Krallice record as the elements combine and set off explosions, while lightning-fast guitar work lays in a beating, and your senses are drilled until you beg for submission.

Just so you know, there’s yet another new Krallice record expected before the year’s up, because apparently they have a lot of time to kill? But “Loüm” is our first stop, and it’s a hammering display that’s as inventive as it is fun. Krallice only knows how to destroy boundaries and obliterate expectations, and the fact they give us almost no warning makes it impossible to fully prepare.

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