The joke is always when Krallice release a new record, we go on about some surprising slab being dumped in our laps with us having no idea anything was even brewing. That wasn’t the case this time as the genre-strangling band gave us enough advanced notice and a solid release date to anticipate, and sure enough, they delivered as scheduled, not trampling anyone’s anxiety.
Well, that is until taking on “Crystalline Exhaustion” for the first time, the band’s 11th record in 15 years, which is just ridiculous for a band that puts out such complicated, confounding art. This six-track, 50-minute extraterrestrial being fits along with Krallice’s other records, but it also stands by itself based on the vibe and energy this thing delivers. The band—guitarist/vocalist Nicholas McMaster, bassist/vocalist Mick Barr, keyboardist/vocalist Colin Marston, drummer Lev Weinstein—still grapple in some form of black metal, though their sound has advanced beyond any label one can affix to their creations. The most chilling element here (other than the psychotic songwriting) is the increased presence of keyboards that add a ghostly, intergalactic sheen to these songs that aim to wreck your life.
“Frost” starts with bass hiss and a strange aura unloading, the synth that is a vital element of this record first rearing its head. The track spurts to life as the vocals endlessly wrench, and the band achieves an insanity and connection most bands only dream of realizing. The track gets frosty and mystical, the vocals seethe, and everything spirals back into the keys that swallow the final moments. “Telos” drives into your chest as the keys drip and the vocals punish, the drums ripping holes into reality. The feel is aggressive and gothy, the latter part something I’d never imagined I’d use to express Krallice, but here we are. Lastly, the guitars heat and melt, and beastly growls disorient as the track fades. “Heathen Swill” enters in tornadic fury as the keys bubble, the vocals dig in, and it feels like all the elements are swimming in your brain. The growls corrode as the playing staples your brain, the rhythm section ties psychosis in knots, and it feels like you’re having a sci-fi out-of-body experience that melts in a haze.
“Archlights” ruptures as harsh howls flatten, and a gruff, punchy tempo shoots sparks as the bass plods. A mystical aura is achieved as the synth chills and steam rises, the band continually confounding logic and time. The last gasp ramps up dangerously, trampling and disappearing into a brain fog, leading to “Dismal Entity” that begins shady and mysteriously as the synth increases. The track flexes with attitude as tricky power exerts itself, and you’re dodging punches you don’t even know are coming, moving into a synth swirl that mashes muscles and cells. The 14:11-long title track brings the record to its end as synth floats in an eerie cloud, and a thick blanket slowly absorbs all light. The playing tangles and gives off a freezing wind, reminding of prime early 1980s Rush, and about halfway through, the shrieks attack and crush. From there, it’s a strenuous ride as scorching playing and nausea-inducing melodies confound. It feels like hurtling toward the deepest reaches of the cosmos, playing games with your psychological well-being and body temperature, leaving you iced and devastated.
I’m not sure how Krallice can continue at this creative clip with 11 albums in 15 years, three in the past three! “Crystalline Exhaustion” is proof that this band has gears that most bands don’t even know exist, and to come up with something this compelling and strange that feels utterly fresh is astounding. The rules don’t exist anymore with Krallice, if they even adhered to any in the first place, and this record is as exciting and vital as anything else in their untouchable catalog.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/krallice
To buy the album, go here: https://krallice.bandcamp.com/album/crystalline-exhaustion
Or here: https://p2loggia.bigcartel.com/
Or here (vinyl preorders to come later in the year): https://gileadmedia.net/collections/pre-orders
For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/p2loggia/
And here: https://gileadmedia.net/