We’re going to do two reviews a week here – one of a new album (less than a year old) and one of an older album. We also thought it’d be cool if our reviews took the form of a discussion, with humor and personality, rather than a dry essay. Our throwback album review this week is of Krallice’s 2009 album Dimensional Bleedthrough. Click “continue reading” to check it out.
Krallice are an experimental black metal band from New York City. They formed in 2008, and, like most black metal bands, shun the spotlight, and so are not widely known, but they have consistently made NPR’s various “best of” lists. Dimensional Bleedthrough is their second album.
Zen: So, why did you pick this album?
Oscar: Because after Mike played us that snippet, I was very intrigued, and we haven’t really covered anything of this ilk before.
Zen: Very true. Also, for all our readers, Mike is a lovely man who has good taste in music and cooks amazing beef tenderloin.
Oscar: That’s also true.
Zen: What was your initial reaction listening to the album?
Oscar: I liked it a lot. Obviously not a lot of variety but it’s just so well-executed.
Zen: Yeah. While it may sound a little like people are just hitting things as hard and fast as they possibly can, if you listen just a little closer there is definitely love and a lot of thought put into the song construction.
Oscar: It’s definitely a tight album, regardless of track length. It actually reminded me a little of My Bloody Valentine.
Zen: I had that same thought.
Oscar: Just because of the endlessly repeating riffs of like, one chord or 3 notes or something.
Zen: Definitely. For me what did it was the way both bands create this white wall of guitar noise, yet every now and then slip in these melodic phrases.
Oscar: I was surprised at how tuneful some of the stuff was on this.
Zen: Me too.
Oscar: So, top 3 tracks?
Zen: “Dimensional Bleedthrough.” I think that title is a perfect description for their sound and the way it destroys all your senses.
Oscar: That’s exactly what it does.
Zen: It was hard for me to return to the normal world after I’d take off my ear buds. Second would be “Monolith of Possession.”
Oscar: I listened to the album on my huge house speakers, it was dope.
Zen: That sounds amazing. Did you head bang or just sit in a couch and let the sound waves pummel you into the cushions?
Zen: Good. Anyway, I think “Monolith of Possession” was a really strong ending track. The way the same fucking riff goes over and over and over and over and over and over and then stops and leaves you to pick up the broken pieces of your mind was truly awesome. Do I necessarily think it had to be 18 minutes and 44 seconds? Probably not. But I wouldn’t fault them for that.
Oscar: I liked the length of the tracks. It made me feel like each song was more of a minimalist piece, like a Terry Riley piece played on some guitars with crazy effects, more than like a “metal song,” you know?
Zen: I can dig that. I wasn’t complaining about the lengths. I was impressed that that it didn’t annoy me actually. Very impressed that it kept my attention. “Autochthon” would be my 3rd. I enjoyed getting some more singer time. I’ve always been interested in the way heavy metal singers don’t kill their voice, and this dude was fucking going nuts with it.
Oscar: I really liked how the voice was intentionally unintelligible.
Zen: Yeah, it became more of another instrument instead of the focal point of the song.
Zen: What were your top 3?
Oscar: Number one is “The Mountain.”
(Usually there’d be a video here, but I couldn’t find one, so you’ll just have to get the album and listen to it…)
Zen: That one had some ridiculous guitar lines.
Oscar: I liked the riffs the best, and the groove. I thought the rhythms were less interesting than on “Dimensional Bleedthrough,” for example, but it was just pure power. It was also arguably the most tuneful. Number two is “Dimensional Bleedthrough.” Rhtyhmically the most interesting song, and it exhibited their talents perfectly. They switch from repeating minimal riffs to tuneful sections to breakdowns, and they switch meters and shit, it’s just crazy. It’s the most impressive track, I just liked “The Mountain” more in my gut. Third is “Monolith of Possession,” which, aside from having the most metal name of any song ever, was an amazing ending.
Zen: All good statements.
Oscar: Bottom 3?
Zen: Top would be “Untitled.” I didn’t necessarily dislike it, but I was disappointed that they didn’t give it an amazing name and that it was only a little above 3:14. I thought they should have kept on destroying the world in double digit blocks of time.
Oscar: It seemed odd that it was so short.
Zen: Exactly. Maybe it could be argued that they were switching it up on that track, but as the tune seemed to be more or the less the same thing as the rest of the album (just a little less badass in my opinion) it felt a bit empty with its length.
Oscar: Well put
Zen: “Intraum” would be my 2nd.
Oscar: OK, why?
Zen: I didn’t dislike it, but you mentioned being moved in your gut earlier, and that one failed to truly grab me.
Zen: I also felt it had the least interesting breakdowns and riffs
Oscar: Fair. I thought it was really cool to just hear the guitar interplay without anything else, though. Just pure texture.
Zen: That’s fair. But for me, all the instruments at certain points became one texture, in a good way, so that I wasn’t particularly mind blown by “Intraum.”
Zen: If I had to pick a 3rd, I’d go with “Aridity.” However, I have nothing against it. It just wasn’t one of the tracks that left a big lasting impression on me like my favorites. What were your bottoms?
Oscar: I guess “Untitled,” for the same reasons as you, but honestly I loved everything else. They all have 5 stars in my iTunes. And I’ll agree that some stuck with me more than others, but I think they’re all great pieces.
Zen: I agree. I picked my bottom 2 just by process of elimination, besides “Untitled.”
Oscar: Right. Do you have a favorite musical moment? I feel like lyrical doesn’t quite apply.
Zen: “Do you have a favorite death scream moment?” I don’t think there was one particular moment. I was just so impressed by the guitar lines. They are picking those notes so motherfucking fast, and not sloppily.
Oscar: I completely agree.
Zen: There is some serious skill hidden in that noise.
Oscar: I would almost believe it if someone told me they recorded it slow and sped it up. Not quite, but almost.
Zen: No, I get it. The level of musicianship is just disgusting. One thing I respected a lot about their playing was that the choice to have at least 50% of the album be the same repeating chords bashing you in the skull was for an aesthetic and not because they couldn’t play other things. That’s just what they wanted. This is not something I can say about a lot of death metal bands people have shown me. Your favorite moment?
Oscar: Just for clarification, these guys are black metal, not death metal. I feel like “death metal” has become sort of a catch-all term for any metal, but there are differences.
Zen: Funnily enough, you typed that right when I was scrolling through my genres and found Krallice under “black metal.” Immediately I thought, “Damn. I done fucked up.” What are the differences?
Oscar: Black metal is more focused on guitar work like this, and the vocals often take a backseat, as on this album. Also vocals are usually more high-pitched than in death metal.
Zen: Well, thank you for the clarification.
Oscar: You’re welcome. My favorite moment was in “The Mountain.” There’s a riff, it’s hard to describe without humming, but it was a riff they repeated a lot that was three descending notes, and they repeated it but changed up the rhythms of it.
Zen: I know exactly the moment you’re talking about. It was a good moment.
Oscar: Yeah. Final score?
Zen: I’m still debating, you go for it.
Oscar: 8.3. I really liked this album. Anyone who wanted to know about metal or was skeptical of metal, I’d point them here.
Zen: OK. What kept you from giving it a higher score? This has been one of the few albums of which you’ve liked almost every track.
Oscar: Because I remember giving Björk something like an 8.5, and I don’t think I liked it as much as that, but that’s personal taste. And I think 9s should be reserved for a very elite class of album.
Zen: I wonder if we’ll ever review one of those.
Oscar: I hope so.
Zen: OK. So. That’s enough dillydallying on my part. Gotta give this shit a score.
Oscar: Yeah, I’m waiting.
Zen: I’m in the process, man. 8. That took a lot of mental anguish. No, actually, 7.9. OK. Good.
Oscar: Why the hair-splitting?
Zen: Because deep, deep down, I know that I didn’t enjoy this album as much as I have for other things I’ve given an 8 to.
Zen: And the one complaint I have for the album is that I wanted the drums to be more exciting and different. I think there was room for more percussion experimentation that would have added to the sound, rather then taken away from it.
Oscar: That’s fair.
Zen: Any last thoughts?
Oscar: Everyone listen to this, and get a headache from headbanging so hard, but also sometimes just sitting and letting it wash over you.
Oscar: Also, My Bloody Valentine should do a collab. That would be weird and dope.
Zen: I would listen to that. Also, if you don’t break at least one antique vase from headbanging, you’ll have let us down.
Come back next week to read our reviews of Haim’s Days Are Gone and Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love.