Sound: If extended passages and vast soundscapes are your thing then checking out the debut from the collaboration of some of the finest in metal experimentation; Krallice.
The guitars, laid down by experimental guitarist Mick Barr (Crom-Tech, Orthrelm, Octis and [many] others) and Colin Marston (Behold the Arctopus, Byla, Indricothere and others) along with the bass of Nick McMaster (Astomatous) offer a many layered behemoth all playing different harmonies and melodies which, at first can sound messy or jumbled, combine to create a huge wall of sound which is nothing short of extraordinary.
Whilst there is no particular virtuosity in the individual parts that you might expect from Mick or Colin (known for his Warr Guitar), the wonder lies in the overall combined, often abstract, melody in which out of the typically black metal tremolo picked lines comes dark chords sequences phasing in and out almost organically. This is in essence ambient black metal at 200 bpm.
The drums, whilst mostly blast beats, are not thin and under produced like many in this genre and offer a solid backing for the music to launch from. // 10
Lyrics: Mick Barrs distinctive, raw, incoherent shrieks are the spoils on offer here and simple, mysterious phrases replace 'verse, chorus, verse' lyric systems: "Solar winds breed laceration"; "The lesser gods have taken their withered placement back from man."
Whilst this is not to many peoples taste and does certainly stray away from the typical black metal squeals and often satanic lyrical nature, it is yet another layer to add on top of the cake making it almost entirely instrumental. // 9
Overall Impression: Despite the black metal tag, Krallice offer a surprisingly complex and beautiful soundscape that extends beyond the typical blast beats and tremolo picking into 10 minute textural meditations. The only bands that I can really compare this to are Wolves in the Throne Room and Weakling, though these are both different branches of the same tree, Wolves being more lush and Weakling being more grating.
I found it extremely difficult not giving straight tens here as I believe this to be one of the greatest things to ever come out of black metal, but it really is a flawless album. If not enjoyed on the first run through, please give it another 3 to wear in and you should learn to love it like I do! // 10