Band: Krallice |Album:Crystalline Exhaustion | Genre: Progressive metal, Black metal | Year: 2022
From: Queens, USA | Label: Independent
For fans of: Kayo Dot, Kekal, Mgła
Krallice, a New York-based quartet, are stalwarts of the experimental/progressive black metal scene. From their self-titled debut in 2008 to now, they have consistently put out high-quality music, and each album has had its own distinctive hallmarks.
Crystalline Exhaustion is the band’s eleventh full-length release. I haven’t listened to their previous album (2021’s Demonic Wealth), but I did enjoy their 2020 release, Mass Cathexis. Crystalline Exhaustion continues in their general vein of spaced-out, proggy black metal.
Opening the album is the 10-minute “Frost”. Thumping drums, slowly booming bass, and an airy gasp of a synth pad work together to foster an icy, otherworldly atmosphere. After a couple meditative minutes, the song blasts off into energetic shredding. The synth pad adds a sense of tonal continuity with the opening amid the tremolo picking and frenetic drumming. The song’s midsection takes a decidedly spooky turn which allows the bass some time in the spotlight. “Frost” ends similarly to how it opened, with slow, pounding percussion and a breathy synthesizer.
Despite enjoying the composition overall, I’m not wild about the production. I’ve now listened to this album on two different sets of speakers, and it comes off sounding a bit shallow on both. This is, unfortunately, an issue which plagues the whole album.
“Telos” follows, and it immediately jumps into the action. The shredding coupled with the ethereal, plinking synths reminds me strongly of Kayo Dot’s most recent album. The band skillfully alternates between moments of technical flashiness and more typical black metal riffage.
The synthesizers in the opening passage of “Heathen Swill” are the eeriest yet on the album, and they mesh wonderfully with Krallice’s scouring metal. “Archlights” starts in a similar manner, and that song’s middle has some surprisingly laid-back instrumental interplay.
Next is “Dismal Entity”, which opens on a high-energy, nearly thrash-like riff which is quite bass-forward. The bass shines throughout this song, often being high in the mix, with no shortage of great licks and fills.
Crystalline Exhaustion ends on its 14-minute title track. This song opens with mournful synth strings and takes its time. Lightly-plucked bass underpins these gentle moments. After over four minutes, the song begins to pick up steam. Bass and percussion amp up the tempo as chiming synth notes ring out over the top. By the song’s midpoint, it’s finally resembling metal as the screeched vocals enter. This is a deeply satisfying buildup, and I once again feel the need to compliment their choice in synth tones.
Krallice’s latest album is a solid entry into their discography. Despite being underwhelmed by the production, the compositions are strong enough to overcome it. If you’re a fan of cosmic black metal, this is definitely worth your time.