Krallice - Crystalline Exhaustion
Self-released
Atmospheric Black Metal
6 songs (50:02)
Release year: 2022
Krallice
Reviewed by Goat

A surprise-release tenth album from the hipster black metal icons, now we (in the West at least, not so much for our Chinese cousins) are past the horrors of Covid lockdowns and band members can exist in the same place again, and you can hear inspiration striking in the best way. Quite far removed from the experimental, pasted-together Demonic Wealth, instead Crystalline Exhaustion is a cohesive, thought-out unity that builds on the use of synths in its predecessor to form something of a black metal monument and arguably the band's greatest album yet. Moving away from the tech-death variations of their mid-career, most experimental moments, this is instead an atmospheric blackened rumble that heralds back to the genre's early days in the best of ways.

Album opener Frost is well-titled, seeming like a more technical take on that early Enslaved classic at times, making great usage of synths and ambience behind the restless, shifting drums and eerie guitar lines. It has a similar cold air to it as the Norwegians' album but in an altogether spacier and almost sci-fi feel - you're still on top of the frozen mountain, but this time you've discovered something that does not belong there. And this uneasy ambience continues throughout the album, even more aggressive tracks like Telos having Burzumic keyboard plinks behind the riffs. It works best when turning into almost UFO strangeness a la Oranssi Pazuzu on Heathen Swill, or as providing a menacing presence as you trudge through the swampy technicalities of Archlights. The band are at their most technical on Dismal Entity yet even that gets an ambient interlude courtesy of the synths before the rest of the band come charging back in to show off, particularly drummer Lev Weinstein who puts in one of his best performances yet.

And on the closing title track, fourteen minutes strong, it begins with over four minutes of 80s style synths, melancholic and almost Blade Runner-esque, before hammering drums and more plinky keyboards strike a different tone. The vibe is closer to Botanist than, say, Blut Aus Nord, although there's not much in it; Krallice have a stronger, more strident sound than the experi-enviro-maniacs, particularly once the track hits its second half with howled vocals and keyboards that overtake guitars. It's all oddly, eerily beautiful in the way that the best black metal can be, the likes of Darkspace bearing comparison and Krallice without question drinking from the well of purest black metal. And all extra impressive when you notice that most of the band switched away from their usual instruments - Colin Marston on keyboards and additional drums, Mick Barr on bass, and so on - Krallice testing their own limits and in doing so creating something rather special. Even those who disdain the hipster hand will find much to like about its caress here.

Killing Songs :
Frost, Heathen Swill, Archlights, Crystalline Exhaustion
Goat quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Krallice that we have reviewed:
Krallice - Psychagogue reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Krallice - Demonic Wealth reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
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
To see all 9 reviews click here
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