Music Reviews
Years Past Matter

Krallice Years Past Matter

(self-released) Buy it from Insound Rating - 8/10

Since their 2008 self-titled debut, New York City’s Krallice have become a strong and prevalent force within the United States’ ever growing progressive black metal scene, with their highly chaotic and monolithic approach to creating guitar drenched voids growing in scope and magnitude with each release. Of course, Krallice’s music has never stood purely as black metal in a traditional sense, and while Years Past Matter, the groups new self-released album, could easily be considered their heaviest and most relentlessly brutal album yet, it’s also the least “black” black metal album they’ve ever released. I say this, not because of the group’s lack of corpse paint or hatred for Christianity (which, in reality, is merely a black metal stereotype), but because the music featured here is far too vibrant and multi-faceted to feature a descriptor that implies a lack of light or color. If anything, the six tracks featured on Years Past Matter are like six separate battles in a war between light and darkness, and, rest assured, it is a violent and bloody war at that.

Admittedly, listening to this album for the first time felt like such a disorienting blur that it was hard to recall much of anything I had just listened to, and I feel that this will likely be the case with most people on their first listen. This is because, as a whole, Years Past Matter is a dense, hyperkinetic, and momentous affair that is constantly pushing foreword beyond its own boundaries while giving the listener few chances to catch their breath once submerged. While the tracks average at around ten to twelve minutes apiece (with the longest being a whopping sixteen minute epic), Krallice do a good job at making sure not a second is wasted, as each track is densely packed with unbridled chaos and cerebral textures that are constantly bouncing off of and colliding into each other. Krallice also handles these elements with such a dramatic sense of urgency and restlessness that you feel as though the album will collapse in on itself at any minute. Handling all of this might seem too daunting and challenging upon a first listen, but with each listen that follows, more and more of the details are revealed, and tracks which initially seemed like giant clumps of random metal riffs and blast beats all of a sudden begin to take on a more defined meaning.

The 16th note drum assaults, tremolo attacked guitars, and hell spawn vocals utilized throughout Years Past Matter might help in preserving its identity as a black metal album, but Krallice utilize a much more colorful pallet this time around when constructing their typically blackened epics. This largely has to do with their use of more strongly defined riffs and melodic lines that clearly stand out from one another and help define the tracks that they are in. Through the albums six expansive tracks, Krallice pull as many diverse punches as they can muster, taking their already blackened guitar attack and adding sludgy doom metal riffs, math-rock guitar licks, and woozy bits of shoegaze dreaminess which are woven together tightly to create massive tapestries of different metal influences which change on the fly.

However, this does not mean that Krallice utilize these elements at random, as each track seems individually defined by its own core elements. For instance, IIIIIII (Track 1) and IIIIIIII (Track 2) act as more straightforwardly bashing tracks in their execution, with the latter in particular relentlessly bulldozing its way through0 within its first few seconds, while IIIIIIIII (Track 3), IIIIIIIIII (Track 4), and the following interlude track are all more centered around spacier guitar moments, as seen with the shoegazy wash that closes out track 3 and the bright, dreamy guitar line which acts as a reoccurring elements throughout track 4. By the time the band reaches the epic finale, the sixteen minute IIIIIIIIIIII (I know these song titles get redundant), the group pulls out all the stops by showcasing and summarizing everything they’ve done throughout the album in one giant ass-kicking maelstrom. Though the sprawling track feels significantly less defined structurally than the previous five, it’s still just as intense and monumental as anything else on the album, if not more so.

One of the things that strike me as so impressive about all of this, however, is how Krallice manage to create such a rich and diverse sounding metal album while almost exclusively sticking to their core elements. Years Past Matter features no synthesizers, orchestral features, guest vocal spots, or really much of any kind of studio tricks in order to juice up the album. Instead, the album relies on the core talents of its members, especially with the manic dueling guitars of Mick Barr and Colin Marston, who constantly feel as though they are running a marathon through the entirety of the album while simultaneously battling each other with their respected instruments to see who will reach the end first. Barr and Marston aren’t “shredders” in a typical sense (as the album features nothing resembling a guitar solo) but there is a virtuoso like quality to the way the two complement each other’s riffs and guitar lines so effectively as to be perfectly in sync with each other while also always standing out on their own.  Years Past Matter goes to prove this better than any other release before it, and stands as a true testament as to just how strong of a group Krallice is on the basis of their own core elements.

While it’s hard to say if their new album would peak the interest of many non-metal listeners, it’s safe to say that Krallice have managed to fully come into their own through this album and have indeed created their strongest work yet. Much like the glowing, nebulaeic image depicted on the albums front cover, Years Past Matter feels like a massive, colorful, and dramatic celestial body hanging and stretching across the cold, dark expanses of space. Years Past Matter might be a more vibrant and multicolored affair than previous efforts, but it is assuredly still painted on a canvas that’s as pitch black as ever.