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Krallice - Ygg Huur CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.88 | 13 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 'Ygg Huur' - Krallice (75/100)

I have never quite understood the backlash against Krallice. Their airy contemporaries are rightly accused of missing the point when it comes to circumventing the black metal genre's essential darkness, but I don't think Krallice have ever shied away from discomfort. Quite the opposite, in fact-- the band's exceptional degree of technical musicianship has opened new routes to stifling anxiety that would have remained closed to a more stylistically 'pure' outfit. Sharp, angular tech riffing, like something out of one of Penderecki's worst nightmares, sounds all the more jarring when it's dropped in the context of a genre that tends to favour pairing its longer song structures with minimalism and introspective atmosphere. With that said, I can definitely see Krallice as not being a band for everyone, particularly those who have struggled with the bandmembers' other projects-- namely Orthrelm and Behold the Arctopus.

At the end of the day, Krallice has always struck me as a progressive metal band first and foremost; one that decided to don the blackened veil and roughly adhere to the customs of black metal. The penchant for technically challenging and cerebral music has remained a constant, but it hasn't been until Ygg huur that Krallice sound like they're finally dropping the black metal pretence, showing themselves as they really are. The layman may ask: Is it still really black metal? Regardless whether it is, or whether Krallice are now better described as prog or tech metal, it is clear that Ygg huur marks a change of pace for a remarkably consistent band.

While Krallice's career marked an audible shift towards increasingly sophisticated leaps in composition, I feel like Ygg huur shows the band switching tracks in more ways than one. Krallice now sound more along the lines of Gorguts (for whom Krallice's own Colin Marston has played a significant role these past few years) than the 'angular black metal' tag I had them pegged for. Roughly half as long as any of the meaty albums that came before it, Krallice has meant to condense the same number of ideas into a fraction of the time. This shift comes as a surprise, but if you listen for earlier moments where the band's true passion lay, it is fairly easy to see this as a continuation of what they've been up to in the past.

When all is said, Krallice has become more like the other bands these musicians are part of. Between Orthrelm, Behold the Arctopus and the comparatively restrained Dysrhythmia, these guys are no strangers to jarring, calculated compositions. Don't be fooled by the album's length; not one minute of Ygg huur's thirty six are wasted on getting to the point. The songwriting is starts and stops abruptly, and the music is fiendishly dense. Indeed, it's sometimes hard to know when one song ends and another begins. Ygg huur is forged on a common frequency of anxiety-inducing technique and claustrophobic atmosphere. Normally I'd hold it against an album for being relatively 'samey' (especially when the style is unwelcoming by default) but there's the sense with Ygg huur that Krallice have placed each and every note where it is with careful forethought.

Most technical music is impressive by default in a vaguely cerebral way, but the real quality is distinguished by how a listener's appreciation will kindle or fester given repeated listenings. In this, Ygg huur represents a strong case of an album that had me sold from the first listen onwards and has held my appreciation at a relatively consistent level from there. It's not that Ygg huur doesn't benefit from extra time or even patience, but Krallice's tightness is instantly evident to an nigh-overwhelming degree. The band's musicianship is easily the best thing on Ygg huur, and even if their compositions lack the twists and turns to make them memorable unto themselves, there's a palpable chemistry here you very seldom hear in a metal band. Marston and Mick Barr are a symmetrical hivemind of a guitar duo, whose tangents always sound finetuned to echo one another. Lev Weinstein's drums are appropriately busy, and Nicholas McMaster's thick bass presence virtually begs for a slew of tech-death comparisons.

Krallice have shown their true colours here, I think. Any reservations someone may have had towards their place in black metal may be somewhat justified, if only for the realization now that Krallice sound so much more like themselves once they've done away with the most apparent traits of that sound. Ygg huur's singular focus on cerebral technique is, in a way, more limited than the sprawling format of past albums, but it's nonetheless impressive to hear a band highlighting their best strengths as such. I hesitate to name another band in recent memory that lends an equal sense of weight to their own technical manoeuvres. Krallice took a calculated risk with Ygg huur. To my satisfaction as a fan of the band, it paid off.

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical.

Conor Fynes | 4/5 |


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