First Listen

First Listen: Krallice, 'Diotima'

Unrelenting  yet rhapsodic, Krallice's blast-beated epiphanies take black metal to the next step on Diotima. i i

Unrelenting yet rhapsodic, Krallice's blast-beated epiphanies take black metal to the next step on Diotima. Justina Villanueva/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Justina Villanueva/Courtesy of the artist
Unrelenting  yet rhapsodic, Krallice's blast-beated epiphanies take black metal to the next step on Diotima.

Unrelenting yet rhapsodic, Krallice's blast-beated epiphanies take black metal to the next step on Diotima.

Justina Villanueva/Courtesy of the artist

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Krallice is one of the most thrilling bands in metal: Riff for riff, the group's blast-beated epiphanies demand more of listeners with each subsequent album. Diotima is the band's third record in four years, and that workmanlike ethic has served Krallice well. What started as a vehicle for guitarists Mick Barr (Orthrelm, Ocrilim) and Colin Marston (Dysrhythmia, Gorguts) to apply their insane technical skill to classic Darkthrone riffage is now a fully formed unit, crafting dense compositions that go beyond the band's individual talents to achieve something greater.

Unrelenting yet defiantly rhapsodic, Diotima — out April 26 — revels in its many layers. But, for as many counterpoint riffs and rhythmic pummelings as there are here, the compositions are always razor-sharp. It's almost alarming when Krallice briefly syncs into a subdivided machine-gun ratatat in "The Clearing," which, believe it or not, serves as a moment of levity in the bludgeoning darkness.

Bassist Nick McMaster plays a large role on Diotima, lending his deeply philosophical lyrics and death-metal growl to half of the album. The idea of Platonic love originates from Diotima, the female seer in Plato's Symposium. Weaving poetry from Friedrich Hölderlin together with McMaster's own, "Diotima" is the most graceful Krallice track to date. Marston's genteel guitar recalls his work on R. Loren's collaborator-heavy metallic shoegaze project Sailors With Wax Wings, as Barr sounds downright Gothic in his melodic chord voicings. Lev Weinstein's drumming has never felt more musical, often trading hard hits for patient, jazz-like fills.

As if reading my mind, McMasters growls, "Is this the next step?" He's speaking about detachment from physical desire to achieve higher consciousness, but I can't help but point to "Telluric Rings." What begins as a Disintegration-buzzing haze (there's The Cure popping up again in a metal song) turns symphonic. Krallice's songs always seem to have enough parts to fill 20 albums, but "Telluric Rings" has movements. Adapt its ceiling-bursting guitars with strings, its mountainous walking bass with brass and crashing drums with tympani and gongs, and it comes out like the sublime power of Grieg, like the grandeur of Messiaen. This is the next step.

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First Listen