Krallice’s post-hiatus work has been focused on surprise releases, organized entirely around particular themes; whether it is the heavier, Dave Edwardson focused Loum
or the second-wave influenced Go Be Forgotten
, the Brooklyn black metal explorers have percolated experiments into crystallized experiences. Mass Cathexis
, the band’s ninth album, feels both a return to their original trajectory— before Ygg Hur
and it’s heavier oddities—and a new phase in its own right. Mass Cathexis
takes the salient lessons learned in Krallice’s experimental years, like shorter song lengths and more diversified riffing, and applies it to the quirky metal of their Interdimensional Bleedthrough
and Years Past Matter
To be fair, the movement of Krallice’s abject sound has been minimal over their career. The riffs and production are still clinical and sharp, with Colin Marston and Mick Barr conjuring the same technical guitar and bass interplay that’s defined the band. This laser focus and obsession with an overtly “technical” sound are felt most strongly in the rhythm section, which Mass Cathexis
features, again, quite prominently. Maybe this is controversial, but the aforementioned riffs and rhythm have always given Krallice the implication
of a black metal band. The pieces and parts are there, but It became clear with Years Past Matter
that Krallice was doing something different in black metal, especially since heading in a death metal-lite direction. Luckily, Mass Cathexis
continues that trend while retaining the sort-of kvlt flair born in Go Be Forgotten
. But make no mistakes, despite re-visiting familiar ground, Mass Cathexis
is Kralice’s strangest and most unwieldy collection
“Feeding on the Blood of Rats” opens Krallice’s ninth record per the usual—explosively and decidedly. Krallice rarely builds atmosphere inorganically, so soft intros and interludes aren’t deployed as is typical with their peers. With this opener, the band toys with a singular cadence that builds and contorts over five-minutes. It’s a delight to hear such grooviness, with the central riff feeling like a twisted carousel track.
“Set” follows but with a deeper, more churning approach. Marston’s ties to Gorguts feel on display here, as the guitar tones and brief and consistent eruptions feel very Luc Lemay inspired. The bass work here is divine, giving the low end of the track a particular weight. “Wheel” compliments with trickier, more unwieldy time signatures, and riffing. Notably, Krallice has seemingly adopted the Loum
era vocals of Edwardson almost entirely, altering the tone of the first part of the record with a deeper and menacing voice.
“Aspherance” dreams up the album’s closest approximation of Go Be Forgotten
. Light electronic atmospheres and distant vocals feel haunting and dark compared to the immediacy of the first three tracks. Being the album’s longest song, it has ample time to spread out its themes. With the added breathing room, “Aspherance” builds to an absolutely mesmerizing finale. Along with “The Myth,” Krallice have created moments of true revelation. They’re actually pretty
in their own way. Much like “Go Be Forgotten,” Krallice pulls together tangible evidence of beauty amongst the cold technicality and dissonance.
The title track returns to the more overt and disarming heaviness of the first few songs. Some of Krallice’s most phoned in “metal lyrics” are on display, along with the beefiest death metal passages of their entire discography. Much of these riffs and time signature shifts could have come right out of the mid-90s. Despite the jarring transition, “Mass Cathexis” is a familiar and warm piece within a collection of work not known for such.
“The Form” and “The Formed” are a pair of songs that seem to be on opposite sides. The former is a slower, more plodding bass-driven song while the later is a rapid-fire riff mosaic. “The Formed,” more so than anything on Mass Cathexis
feels totally “Krallice.” It’s buoyant and impossible to follow, while the vocals are absolutely on point. For those who miss the Interdimensional Bleedthrough
days, this song is for you.
Finally, “All and Nothing” wipes away that “lack of “interludes and intros” mentioned earlier. It’s an eerie rumination on the atmosphere that closes the album in a surprisingly generic and unmemorable way.
This reviewer rode the early bandwagon of Krallice aversion. For those who found a new appreciation for black metals infant terrible, Mass Cathexis
will feel more of what's been so engrossing these last five years. While it feels much more reminiscent of early Krallice than anything in the last decade (maybe?), the band has retained the focused and powerful songwriting of their modern classics. But rather than revisiting any era, Krallice has revisited every
era, resulting in an album that may please everyone or no one at all. For this reviewer, it’s Krallice at their most playful and fascinating; an album that prides itself on the nearly 15 years of joyous experimentation which preceded it.