Having discovered the harsh and unique guitar style of guitarist Mick Barr in a review of OCRILIM's "Annwn" (Hydra Head) on this very site, I was anxious to hear his work as part of experimental USBM act KRALLICE. His instrumental arrangements on "Annwn" are graceful in their acidic, yet oddly melodic, layering. Now add guitarist/bassist Colin Marston (BEHOLD…THE ARCTOPUS, DYSRHRYTHMIA, BYLA) and drummer Lev Weinstein to the equation and the resulting self-titled debut on rising Northern star Profound Lore Records and you've got an invigorating, scathing, and thoroughly refreshing 62 minutes of black metal terror.
Barr's tremolo sweeping heroics anchor these six long compositions, but there is much more to the story. The approach taken by the Barr/Marston tag team is one that sends the listener hurling into an abyss of sometimes hypnotic/sometimes unsettling guitar textures with strangely melodic lines weaving in and out of the music. Listening to "Cnestorial" one hears a melody that is among the album's oddest, yet equally captivating, as Barr ultimately launches the song into one of his trademark sound tornadoes. As is the case with all of the compositions, Barr's vocals are sparsely utilized and are of the back-of-the-mix semi-shouted kind, not unlike those heard on some of NACHTMYSTIUM's more traditional (for them anyway) black metal works. The dissonance and ugly tones really set in on "Molec Codices", as Barr's vocals are an expression of pure torment, the track also featuring some of the disc's most slamming rhythms. The punishing maelstrom continues on songs like "Timehusk" with a sort of cacophonous death metal brutality and an incredibly twisted guitar "solo." Capping off the proceedings is a 15-minute beast called "Forgiveness in Rot", one in which the vocals don't even commence until the four minute mark, at which point your ears will have melted shut anyway.
Those not previously exposed to such disharmonic artistry may find the album suffocating, to say the least. Give it some time though and you may find KRALLICE's dark hymns to be sonically appetizing pieces of black metal inventiveness. Maximum impact is achieved at deafening volumes.