Krallice - Diotima
Profound Lore Records
Black Metal
7 songs (01:08:58)
Release year: 2011
Krallice, Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Charles
Krallice’s albums are often frustrating: capable of these electrifying polyphonic meshes of sound which come across like the last word in black metal avant-garde-ism, and equally as capable of producing songs that last about three hours during which nothing of the remotest consequence happens. The band has hewn one of the most instantly recognisable sounds in extreme metal, based around these weirdly elongated treble lines and taut, misshapen tremolo melodies. But it’s one that works best in small doses, and that’s clearly not how the band likes to administer them. The danger is that the excitement and unpredictable edge dissipates and becomes somewhat self-indulgent.

Diotima doesn’t diverge radically from the framework laid down on the last records but it does feel more tightly-composed, and this helps it to largely stave off that fate. In most songs there is some identifiable theme, idea, or climax, and only occasionally does the ‘green light red light’ school of composition- as if someone has suddenly shouted ‘go!’ and then twenty minutes of whirring and winding later shouted ‘stop!’- seem to rear its head. Indeed, it starts (and mostly continues) very impressively, with the band’s electric-fence blasting churning through thunderous harmonies and surreally zigzagging lead lines over the course of the introductory ”_” and first proper track Inhume. The drumming locks in perfectly with the guitar work; it is a pulsating thread of hyperactive sound with an often uncanny depth. Inhume in particular seems to develop greater tonal depth as it progresses, moving from the oppressively chromatic contrapuntal lines around 3:00 to the burgeoning harmonies- like the massed vocal lines of a particularly histrionic choral work- that burst fleetingly through the sound in the closing minutes. For those that wonder what the fuss is about the band, in my view it lies in the attention to detail and the complex use of harmony that shine through in these tightly-controlled glimmers.

Then, there are tracks like The Clearing and Diotima; twelve minute marathons whose opening halves are like erratic extended introductions before they both explode into exhilarating life. The former eventually comes to orbit around these super-catchy woodpecker-tap rhythmic hooks, before segueing into a processiong of bouncing, bittersweet melodic lines. The title track has a murky and unfocused opening half in which slow tempos suggest a slightly unwanted crack at the post-black thing. But this fast-forwardable introduction is redeemed by the song’s latter stages, in which a rising chorus of swirling lead lines followed by a maniacal solo reveal Krallice at their most expressive.

So, speaking personally, it wasn’t until Litany of Regrets that thumb-twiddling started to set in. This is a bizarre track, based around a curiously thumping sound that gives the impression of someone TuRnInG tHe VoLuMe DiAl Up AnD dOwN rapidly over a blastbeat like a naughty child was let loose in the studio. It’s so recklessly minimalist that this oscillation just goes on, and on, like a particularly vexing drone. Never mind the most artlessly clumping of brutal death metal; this is boredom elevated to a truly avant-garde level. But aside from this track it has to be said that, despite the stereotypes of the USBM scene, potential accusations of pretentiousness generally fail to stick to Diotima. It feels like the most honed of Krallice’s albums, showing a more mature approach to songwriting, and demonstrating development rather than change. At its best it sees the band hitting some truly compelling ideas, which push, albeit quite gently, at the limits of the singular framework their albums have cultivated.

Killing Songs :
The Clearing, Diotima, Telluric Rites
Charles quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Krallice that we have reviewed:
Krallice - Prelapsarian reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Krallice - Hyperion (EP) reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Krallice - Ygg Huur reviewed by Goat and quoted 80 / 100
Krallice - Dimensional Bleedthrough reviewed by Kyle and quoted 88 / 100
Krallice - Krallice reviewed by James and quoted 93 / 100
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