KRALLICE: The Blackened Chronicles
Black metal's foundations are getting stretched in many different directions these days. Over the last decade or so, the atypical is becoming typical and sources of inspiration for black metal are coming from further expanses of music. The genre's earliest inspirational springs came from other extreme genres, such as thrash and death metal. Today sees a much more diverse pool for bands to pick from as genres like shoegaze, assorted varieties of post music, and noise. Many of today's noteworthy bands, particularly those from the United States, have twisted and bent the very core of black metal to suit their own desires. While this experimentation is a welcomed endeavor for a genre often entrenched in remaining true to its roots, the titanic force of Krallice has taken a different approach to black metal by taking its raw ancestry and overhauling it with unrivaled and refined technical brilliance.
Krallice was born from the minds of Colin Marston and Mick Barr in 2007. At the time, Marston was working as a member of the bands Indricothere, Dysrhythmia, and Behold… the Arctopus and Barr was working in the band, Orthrelm, and as Octis and Ocrilim. After working on a split together, the two formed Krallice and recruited drummer, Lev Weinstein and second vocalist, Nicholas McMaster (both of Astomatous), in 2008. They soon recorded their self-titled debut album. Bass for the studio recordings was handled by Marston and Barr, while McMaster was learning the bass lines. A year following their critically-acclaimed debut, Krallice released Dimensional Bleedthrough, which saw the group introduce influences from their other projects. Krallice initially drew comparisons to founding USBM bands like Weakling and Wolves in the Throne Room. This second studio album saw the group begin to shed comparisons and expand into an atmosphere above the rest of the United States Black Metal field.
This blossoming, progressive and pristine black metal sound contrasted the fuzzy, heavily distorted sound that typically came with the ancestral black metal of Bathory. It made Krallice stand out against other bands in the genre hellbent of emulating the classic sound. Around the time of Dimensional Bleedthrough's release; Marston had joined technical death metal band, Gorguts, Barr was working on the experimental/thrash duo, Barr-Nevai, and Weinstein had become a part of the sludge group, Bloody Panda. These exposures to other bands meant that Krallice's collective genius would only continue to expand as its members experimented with other ideas and sounds. These projects dripped back into Krallice's music one way or another and it all came to fruition on their 2011 album, Diotima. Krallice's third studio album established the New York/New Jersey quartet as a force in black metal. Diotima saw a bit of a switch in lyrical presence, as McMaster's role grew substantially. Barr had moved to DC around the time of the album, which may explain the shift in vocals.
What did not change with Diotima was the dizzying nature of Krallice's music. The album contains some of the band's most lengthiest and complex songs like "Litany of Regrets" and "The Clearing". Krallice soon followed up Diotima with a single track called "Traditional" and three-song EP, Orphan of Sickness and then in 2012, released Years Past Matter. Carrying on the group's unrivaled technical standards, Years Past Matter had Barr and McMaster's vocals hidden deeper into mix in order to showcase a mesmerizing atmosphere that Krallice achieved. It was around the release of Years Past Matter that McMaster and Weinstein created the death metal duo of Geryon (who will actually have an album released this year) and McMaster had become a part of the band Castevet. It would be another three years before Krallice would release new music and when they did, it took the metal world by total surprise.
With no warning, Krallice released Ygg Huur in the summer of last year. Their shortest, most dynamic, and densest release to date, Ygg Huur gave listeners a jarring mystery to solve about what Krallice had been up to since Years Past Matter. Weinstein and McMaster released a new Geryon album in 2013. Gorguts released Colored Sands in 2013. Barr had continued his solo works and Orthrelm. Marston and Barr were also half of a new death metal project, called Encenathrakh, in 2015. The Krallice camp was busy during the three years between albums. What was not known at the time however, while the members of the band were off doing other things, they had still done some recordings as Krallice. On New Year's Day of this year, they released the EP, Hyperion, which was recorded in the summer of 2013 and showed Krallice leaning towards a different approach to their music years before the marvelous Ygg Huur.
Krallice stands to be one of the most important bands in modern black metal. Their consistency as a group and as musicians is unparalleled and reflects in the quality of their music. The group has consisted of the same four members since their debut album in 2008, unlike a lot of bands in black metal's history or current iteration. Colin Marston, who is also a wizard in production, has used his own studio, Menegroth, The Thousand Caves, to produce Krallice's music. The band has done much to broaden the scope of black metal in their eight years of existence as well, by demonstrating that the genre can have a much more refined and crisp sound and place emphasis on technical brutality instead of something simply raw and visceral. Like Bathory or Immortal before them; Krallice are living in their own realm of black metal, creating a unique, singular sound that is their own.