posted on 5/2011 By:
Krallice’s impact has been incredible considering their brief career as a band. They’ve already driven a big divisive wedge into the metal community with their first two albums, but now that the band has released their third full-length and other bands have built on the unusual sound that Krallice pioneered, it's easier to analyze their music for what it is, rather than for what it promises. And when looked at more literally, Krallice’s cloak of originally becomes a little more transparent, and as a result, the significance of their music slips dramatically.
Much like the self-titled debut and Dimensional Bleedthrough, the songs on Diotima rely entirely on the atmospheric potential of piling layers of repetitive, interactive sounds upon the listener, mostly in the form of tremolo riffs influenced by traditional black metal but sounding much different. Also very much like the first two albums, Diotima sees Krallice construct their lengthy tracks around one or two outstanding passages, filling out the rest of the song’s running time with a lot of formless waves of noisy noodling that seems to serve little purpose other than to increase the impact of the song’s primary movements. There’s nothing wrong with the idea of using repetition to make certain sections stand out; plenty of black metal bands have used a similar strategy. But the difference with Krallice is the utterly relentless, demanding nature of their instrumentation. Songs typically jump right into the main event with little to no introduction or build-up, and the blast beats and tremolo guitars typically don’t let up for one second before the song ends. This would be just fine if every riff Krallice laid out was worth your time, but a large portion of the riffs on Diotima simply aren’t. Many of them are close to not being riffs at all. And, well, that’s obviously a huge problem when dealing with an album where the guitars are the main attraction.
The band’s use of maddening repetition and banal songwriting to highlight their moments of brilliance was more acceptable on the first two records, given that Krallice was exploring a sound highly innovative and unusual in metal music. But Diotima is their third release in a row to run well over an hour in length, and now that we know what to expect, this compositional premise becomes incredibly tiresome. In an album where the average track length is around ten minutes, one or two spectacular sections per song just doesn’t cut it. No matter how good parts of Diotima are, I can’t recommend anyone trudge through forty minutes of boring music to find thirty minutes of good music. Its not just a matter of cutting down the album’s length, either. Krallice’s stubborn refusal to embrace dynamics in their songwriting process means that the large portions of dull and formless noise in this record are almost a necessary evil to give the parts that are actually worthwhile the required context. In this sense, Krallice has really boxed themselves in a corner; they have to bore you before they can blow you away, and if they can’t bore you, they probably wouldn’t blow you away either.
But despite this apparent paradox, the truly aggravating thing about this release is that there are times when Krallice makes the wait almost worth it. When the band shies away from the endless tides of tedious pick-and-blast and actually works together to put forth a unified musical idea, it sounds terrific. Each track on here contains at least one or two magnificent, epic melodies that proves this band has the talent to back up their pretensions. The heartfelt closer “Dust and Light” ends with a stirring passage clearly influenced by Norway’s frosty melodic ideals, while “Telluric Rings” and “The Clearing” are fantastic showcases of Krallice’s ability to contrast differing riffs into an engaging overall sound. Lev Weinstein’s drumming – always the most underrated aspect of this band – is predictably stunning here. He has a remarkable ability to not only support the unorthodox guitar compositions, but to build and expand upon them with his mastery of a variety of different blast beats and his effortless ability to transition between conflicting time signatures. And the hoarse growls which have mostly surpassed the terse screams in the vocal department add some welcome heft to the band’s reedy instrumental attack. All in all, the performances are crisp and tight, and the moments when everything truly comes together are a sight to behold.
But despite some impressive moments of bona fide musical ingenuity, Krallice’s insistence on forcing the listener to slog their way through to the rewarding parts of this disc distracts from their overall impact and significance. After numerous listens, I found myself both frequently pining to hear the band's exciting potential explored on this album and equally reluctant to spin Diotima from start to finish, a frustrating conflict of interest that ultimately hampered my enjoyment of the album severely. The music on Diotima is genuinely original and occasionally riveting, but it's also tedious, irritating, and often surprisingly lifeless and uninspired. It's up to you to decide if the trade-off is worth it, but I’d rather give my time and money to musicians who can actually maintain my interest, not constantly grab it and then lose it again.
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