Brooklyn’s Krallice are one of the most unique and uncompromising bands in metal today. They’re heavy as hell. They’re insanely technically adept. Their compositional structures are so complex that they almost appear to resemble dream logic more so than anything we tend to recognize as “songs.” They have two vocalists (Mick Barr and Nick McMaster, who also play guitar and bass, respectively) with vastly different approaches to delivery, each one abrasive to the point of being caustic. (Barr deals in a high-pitched screech; McMaster, a booming, guttural roar.) They don’t subscribe to any particular genre orthodoxies: Sometimes they sound a little bit like Weakling; sometimes they sound a little bit like Gorguts; sometimes they sound a little bit like John Zorn’s Painkiller (note: all those bands are largely inimitable and very strange in their own rights). Krallice are extreme in the truest sense of the word.
They’ve also burrowed deeper into the underground as they’ve gotten older. Their first three albums came out on the great Profound Lore Records, but since 2012’s Years Past Matter, Krallice have self-released their stuff, and their last two records (2015’s Ygg Huur and the January 2016 Hyperion EP) arrived with virtually zero advance info, just landing in the world unannounced.
We got two weeks’ notice on Krallice’s brand-new LP, Prelapsarian, when the band partnered with Adult Swim for the release of a “single” called “Hate Power” (whose wholly indecipherable lyrics, says Barr, “take an anti-hate stance”). “Hate Power” is the second of four tracks on Prelapsarian, and the shortest by a substantial margin. In that regard, it resembled the taut, economic Ygg Huur more than anything else in Krallice’s catalog, and as such, led me to assume Prelapsarian would move further in that direction — toward herky-jerky freak-jazzy tech-death — and further away from the band’s expansive (but still impenetrably dense) earlier black metal-ish material.
Well, yes and no. Prelapsarian has many of the same jolting, abrupt shifts and squealing breakaways as we heard on Ygg Huur, but outside of “Hate Power,” these songs clock in at vintage Krallice length. And even though they’re genuinely weird as fucking hell, they breathe a little, too. I don’t think it has a clear reference point; it’s another evolutionary step forward.
I’m not gonna lie: Krallice aren’t for everyone (in case I haven’t already made that clear). But more importantly, I think: Krallice aren’t actually like anyone. They’ve moved beyond their influences, and they’ve effectively made it impossible to imitate them. That’s pretty rare not just in metal, but in any creative endeavor. They’re a treasure. (They’re also an absolutely incendiary live act, and I strongly encourage you to see them if the chance arises.) Prelapsarian is here, now, and you should listen.