Krallice - Ygg Huur
Self-released
Technical Black/Death
6 songs (35:29)
Release year: 2015
Krallice
Reviewed by Goat

I've found it hard to get into Krallice's brand of black metal in the past, mostly for the impenetrability of it, from the average ten minute song lengths to the super-technical playing from such undeniably talented musicians. So the news that the band had quietly released a new album with an average song length of between six and three minutes was welcome, and indeed, Ygg Huur is the band's most accessible album to date. Still, this is as much due to a shift in styles, moving away from black metal and embracing technical death metal to create a weirdly appealing hybrid very different from the raw chaos of traditional black metal. Indeed, past criticisms of the band have noted their lack of the 'evil' feel that proper black metal uses to such great effect, and so Ygg Huur is a definite step forward. Not because it has suddenly worked said evil atmosphere into the music, but because it has opened up the genre to incorporate elements of death metal in the riffing, to the point where genre becomes a distinctly secondary concern. The crystalline sheen of such tech-metal giants as Gorod and Gorguts has an impact all of its own, after all, and freed of the (often necessary) constraints of black metal, Krallice are suddenly a revelation.

This is a terrific step for the band, not least because it keeps their strengths while discarding (some of) their weaknesses. Yes, this is still metal made by mathematicians, more focused on the ridiculously complex formula that underpins the music than the effect on the listener, but some thought has gone into what the listener may be feeling. Not that the band could have taken the alien communication of Years Past Matter much further, with tracks that only a pan-dimensional being could memorise such as IIIIIIIII and IIIIIIIIIIII! Instead, here we have just six tracks, the longest three all six minutes and forty-one seconds long. The album title, the band inform us, is “stolen from Scelsi”, presumably meaning the microtonal composer Giacinto Scelsi who wrote music based around one pitch and who is ridiculously obscure even for a relative music nerd like myself.

Krallice are still very much music nerds writing music that can only be fully appreciated by music nerds, then, and the Colin Marston tendency seems to have taken over to the point where making a wanking gesture and ignoring this altogether would be a perfectly valid response. Yet there's a lot that's genuinely interesting here. Opener Idols is a slow build-up, riffs falling into place like the folds on the cover art before kicking into speed, moving quickly but feeling structured and solid in a way that I haven't felt from Krallice previously. The following Wastes of Ocean is more immediate and tech-death in style, riffs jagged and layered atop one another to create a blizzard of technicality that impacts in a way that past efforts would take ten minutes to do so. Over Spirit is a shimmering blast of sound that pushes the band's by now typical tremolo riffage to new extremes, albeit with a recurring melody that is just catchy enough to hook your ear and provide a guide as it leads you through the madness surrounding.

This isn't an album that you listen to because it's awesome, although it is. This is a mental metal workout, the equivalent of spending half an hour putting your body through the physical strain of serious exercise. Charles in his review of 2011's Diotima remarked on how frustrating a Krallice album can be, and indeed no other metal band is quite so like an avant-garde jazz quartet in the sense that they get together to record albums that other people pronounce as genius and you have to listen to over and over again before you're even halfway to understanding, but you know you're hearing something impressive, so you persevere. And the likes of Tyranny of Thought are here very impressive indeed, yet I appreciate Krallice much more when I'm treating them as a supremely technical style of death metal than when trying to find black metal meaning in their mathematical layers. Maybe it's just my perceptions that are at fault, but Krallice's compositions seem far easier to handle in these shortened bursts, and as a result Ygg Huur becomes a vital album for those interested in the more out-there reaches of extreme metal, be it 'black metal', 'death metal' or a weird combination. For me, this weird combination is the best thing they've done so far, and is enough to make me schedule a re-examination of the past four Krallice albums. As it stands when viewed alone, Ygg Huur is easily deserving of your ears, and whether I come to see it as a gateway to understanding the band's past releases or a compelling argument against over-technicality, it will surely be one of the year's most important albums.

Killing Songs :
You either love all of this or none of it.
Goat quoted 80 / 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 - Diotima reviewed by Charles and quoted 84 / 100
Krallice - Dimensional Bleedthrough reviewed by Kyle and quoted 88 / 100
Krallice - Krallice reviewed by James and quoted 93 / 100
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