Review Summary: ??Crystalline Exhaustion is a synonym for “sensitive snowflake”

Krallice is an experimental black metal band with a track record of releasing music too often within some yearspans, and not at all within others. Grand. Their work as of late thrives (read: depends) on dense atmospheres evocative of cosmic horror and other eerie cult bollocks, and their latest record Crystalline Exhaustion follows 2021’s Demonic Wealth and its halitotic adventures in lo-fi dungeon synth, now housed in a cleaner set of blastbeat-ridden synthscapes yet destined to inspire similar mysterious-darktimes. Returning fans will find much to delight in here; well-groomed adults can at least appreciate it from a safe distance.

The central Deal can be brought down to Krallice’s struggle to integrate the pads and chimes of their synth division with full band metal performances and forward-thinking songwriting, to which end Crystalline Exhaustion is a mixed bag. This is in part a consequence of the production choices, which benefit the album’s expansive side and complement its synthscapes perfectly while cloaking the guitars and drums in a thin layer of collateral murk: enough to blunt their edge yet not enough for a lo-fi statement. As a result, most of the tracks built around interplay between the record’s ethereal sheen and its metal pyrotechnics end up muddled: fortuitously the shortest track here, “Telos” is particularly unappealing in this regard, but the whole first half of the record frequently meanders in a jumbled effort to endow each side with parity of prominence, a push-pull approach where almost every part of the arrangement is either overly in- or frustratingly out-of- focus.

The second half fares better. The heaviest song here, “Archlights” opts for a propulsive approach, sticking hard and fast to a familiar metal sense of momentum and using synths to expand its tone without dictating its pacing; “Dismal Entity” does the opposite and devotes entire respective sections to ambient synths and coursing metal, allowing the push/pull between the two to take shape in wider structural arcs rather than within the arrangement on a second-to-second basis.

These two are far more clearly formed and satisfying than the opening run, but the album’s greatest triumph by far is the self-titled closer. This song devotes almost five minutes to an ethereal opening (almost) gorgeous enough to banish the memory of any suspect choices made thitherto, and when the whole band step into the frame, they bear a new sense of restraint and cohesion, playing entirely in service to the atmosphere and sounding all the better for it. Unsurprisingly enough, the song’s reverie is not to last – the lights go out, oversized luminous eyes appear from all sides, ominous chords trip over one another in nauseous pits of trepidation, the gloom turns to quicksand turns to concrete, Barr/Marston/BDSM Satan scream out indecipherable ontological fuckery in the kind of voice you can see melting recording tape, and things get genuinely unsettling for a good while. It’s a simple linear arc tackled masterfully, all arms of the band’s arsenal united with a common focus; the track’s fourteen minutes waft away in a plume of dark fog, and Krallice land a gripping refutation against anyone doubting that such heavy investment in synthscapes was a worthwhile idea.

And so, Crystalline Exhaustion ends up a successful experiment with a few caveats. Atmospheric is typically a descriptor for pieces that take on a life irrespective of form or structure, a specific sense of something wider, more significant than any individual flaws. No-one cares if the vocalist has a turd in his throat – it’s part of the atmosphere!, etc.. Krallice’s atmospheric sound may often scan as unconvincing camouflage for shapeless writing or homogeneous dynamics, but once they straighten their ideas board and play as what sounds like a coherently coordinated band, they redeem the label from an excuse to a credential. It’s not enough for an even tracklist, but it certainly does make Crystalline Exhaustion required listening for the wretches of the atmoblack circuit, and on top of it that it even hocus-pocuses up a little good faith for whatever Krallice’s next outing with this sound turns out to be. Goodness knows that’s a welcome surprise.




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user ratings (66)
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2022


47652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is 3.0 good tag yourself i'm heathen swill

Digging: Dream Dolphin - Dolphins Talk to You

parksungjoon
January 29th 2022


43132 Comments


need to spend more time with this band, they were kinda neat when they were technical atmoblack

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2022


17113 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2

I'm in love.



edit: cosmic trems of dick

parksungjoon
January 29th 2022


43132 Comments


this site is a bit stupid tbh, prelapsarian integrates dissodeath interestingly into their formula yet wheres all the sunless dickriders and shit, underrating it cuz it says krallice on the cover

CottonSalad
January 29th 2022


2460 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah, their run from Ygg Huur to Mass Cathexis (minus Go Be Forgotten) is totally underrated for what it's offering

Digging: Pascal Battus, Anne F Jacques, Tim Olive - Trois Conseillers

CottonSalad
January 29th 2022


2460 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"dense atmospheres evocative of cosmic horror and other eerie cult bollocks"



This really only applies to the two most recent records (as much as I like them, it's a totally fair observation haha)...definitely check out that run of records park brought up for a different perspective :]

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2022


47652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

noted, cheers - v much tried to avoid giving a sense of being versed or invested in their wider discog with this, but i'll tweak that boi for clarity

and hopefully go back to Go Be Forgotten sometime, i liked the first half of that one

CottonSalad
January 29th 2022


2460 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

For sure! Solid review, as always - blah blah blah

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2022


47652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

blah blah i love you bygg hurrr

Demon of the Fall
January 29th 2022


24614 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Johnny why did you review Krallice? Can’t get the STAFF

Digging: Gospel - The Loser

DavidYowi
January 29th 2022


2514 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is really solid but I really want this to lean harder on ambiance like with the t/t

Digging: Cosmic Putrefaction - Crepuscular Dirge for the Blessed Ones

MonumentsOfParalysis
January 29th 2022


406 Comments


frozen trems of dick

can't wait to dive into this

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2022


47652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"why did you review Krallice"

uh i originally checked this to see if it was as terrible as Demonic Wealth, then realised it wasn't and that the t/t was awesome, then had a long inner monologue about whether it might be good, then reviewed it for the hell of it

so no real reason ig, same as everything that ever happens here. jam Atari Teenage Riot with me.

Pikazilla
January 29th 2022


22992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

jam the ataris instead

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2022


47652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pop punk u punk



CottonSalad
January 29th 2022


2460 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it might be good [2]

Snake.
January 29th 2022


24146 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@Crysis

Digging: Hatchie - Giving the World Away

Demon of the Fall
January 29th 2022


24614 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

‘so no real reason ig, same as everything that ever happens here. jam Atari Teenage Riot with me.‘



Okay, everything goes around here then… that’s cool I guess.



60 Second Wipeout is a jam, so can do (well actually I can’t, but my CD is playing in my head rn).

Pikazilla
January 29th 2022


22992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

jam the ataris with me [2]

loveisamixtape
January 29th 2022


11609 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this site is a bit stupid tbh, prelapsarian integrates dissodeath interestingly into their formula yet wheres all the sunless dickriders and shit, underrating it cuz it says krallice on the cover




this comment goes hard



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