Review Summary: Reverberations from the swamp.
The pandemic sure did a number on the music industry. Shows were cancelled, delayed and then cancelled, tour announcements basically dried up completely and mixtapes seemingly came from everywhere. Some groups (or artists) used the shut-downs and isolation to harness their creativity, while others simply threw an assortment of ideas into a proverbial basket and unleashed it upon the fans that would undoubtedly gobble up whatever fell into their eager laps. To that end, a world slowly stepping out of a global crisis saw a relative increase in new music, especially since the fans were also caught in the same probable living predicaments as the musicians. Sure, one could argue the lack of basic planning, for no one ‘expected’ to have all this extra time on their hands. It just happened and it seems Krallice wasn’t immune to the world around them either.
For the Brooklyn based veterans, a world of experimentation comes easily. A cursory scan of the album’s Bandcamp page reveals Demonic Wealth
’s percussive sections are recorded on a phone... and the vocals “in the car by a swamp”. Furthermore, the band has commented that Demonic Wealth ”was written in isolation, recorded in isolation, listened to in isolation and released in isolation”
. It seems for all the restraints a world of Covid could apply to a seminal black metal band their time wasn’t spent re-arranging the house or licking the paint off the walls. No, Krallice got to work on yet another surprise album and despite how comical the album’s recording process sounds, it’s only the likes of Lev Weinstein, Colin Marston and Mick Barr that would ever be able to get away with such a ridiculous process. Still, these masters of their craft should be commended for bridging the gaps between “do it yourself” quirks and a seminal level of atmosphere. In light of this, Krallice’s tenth studio record manages to achieve the same quality as the rest of their discography, albeit in a completely different manner to those that came before it.
For Demonic Wealth
is approachable with its raw recording process and despite the genre branding. As densely packed as an album from Krallice would predictably become, the fact that Krallice could cram so much into Demonic Wealth
’s being while allowing enough room for each idea to breathe showcases an act of caliber. For an album that so openly pushes away from the studio ‘cleanliness’ that would naturally attract the attention of detractors, Krallice would simply define a better process. In that effort, the record built in the sterile confines of a studio would become imaginably 'less' and yet, the likes of Marston and Barr are immune, left to their own devices and given a pass because of the covid—but here’s the thing; they didn't fu
cking need it. Demonic Wealth
is a digestible portion, mostly due to the tracks that fail to exceed the eight minute mark and how the new album falls short of an hour’s total run-time.
“Folds Of Plasma” in itself is a whirlwind of technicality and rawness as ringing notes surge over frantic drums. Demonic Wealth
is a working result of a level of experimentation so openly tested in the likes of Interdimensional Bleedthrough
and Years Past Matter
, while incorporating the foundation of Loüm
’s more straight-forward traditionalist values. The overall atmosphere of the new Krallice record is one of bleakness and forebode and yet, there’s a frantic energy which contrasts all these “moods” with busywork. Barr and Marston often transition between frenetic string sprays while Weinstein’s hands (and feet) dance around a drum kit. Again, it’s a wonder, simply because of the “lo-fi” aesthetic of Demonic Wealth
’s production values that every little snippet, whether it’s string, vocal or snare, is heard clearly. Krallice clearly identifies with a certain ‘style’ without diminishing a “quality listening experience”.
What helps Demonic Wealth
stand out from the predecessors that came before it however, is a world of atmosphere. “Dilution” takes a minimal effect and wraps it in a thick, all-encompassing aesthetic of experimental black metal. Synth plays a huge part in maintaining the band’s atmospheric nuance, but the ritualistic backbeat does most of the album’s work in a completely non-linear fashion. “Sapphire” continues to climb into the atmospherics and yet the string shrieks of McMaster cut through the ebb and join in with the general cacophony, both minimalist and dense. Audible bass is very much alive in modern day black metal. Even as Krallice closes the chapter on their surprise 2021 release there’s still gems to be unearthed. The album’s titular track for example, takes a broader atmospheric focus, steadily building a crescendo of discord and ominous overtones. It’s not too far a stretch from the tracks that came before it and yet the build here simply has a better impact. In turn, it allows for the closer, “Resistant Strains” to weave, deconstruct and otherwise rest in its own laurels.
Even as the final notes seep away from Demonic Wealth
’s approachable, yet highly functional experimentation on the black metal genre I can’t help but feel that this will (at least in part) be overlooked by the detractors who simply dismiss Krallice’s niche style as another elitist extravaganza. Still, there’s a lot to be taken on board here, made somehow even more approachable than what the genre’s predisposition would suggest. For an album born amidst a world of uncertainty, of isolation, there’s enough to bring even the more stubborn, jaded metal fans together. Demonic Wealth
puts Krallice exactly where they need to be in a world recovering from crisis, and yet they don’t let up in terms of experimentation, energy or creativity. Krallice are safe hands for black metal, even if they’re occasionally misunderstood for it.