Wednesday, April 27, 2011

HYPEHAMMER: Krallice - Diotima

In this recurring series of posts, we will be covering
major new releases that totally suck. Today, the mighty Hypehammer descends on Krallice's new album, Diotima. We sat through this shit so that you don't have to. The following is a creative reconstruction of a real conversation that just took place.

P: This was really a pain in the ass to listen to.

N: Yeah man, I confess it was hard to pay attention after the first track and a half.

P: What'd you think was one of the biggest problems?

N: Well, there was just a lot of random shit going on. No sense of structure.

P: Yep, it was just a bunch of tremolo picking happening for what seemed like hours. I find this album personally offensive, in a way, because I love Wagner and I think this is an attempt at aping that sort of streaming, organic melody.

N: But they forgot the melody! And the direction--Wagner's great because he's always going somewhere.

P: Right! I saw those problems in terms of necessity. Compare a Krallice track with a track like Bathory's "Blood, Fire, Death." On that song, Quorthon writes riffs that sound as if they needed to come into existence. And he makes it seem as if each new riff had to follow the one before.

N: I think that's true of all good metal, or even all good music really.

P: And if that's the case, then Krallice is the opposite of good. Each individual riff, and each whole song, could be completely rearranged without really changing the music's effect.

N: Another thing that really pisses me off is how they take black metal tropes and try to pass them off as these self-conscious innovations. That one guy from Orthrelm was going on in an interview about how they let the feedback ring out even when they're not playing, instead of cutting it off. Like they were breaking "the rules of production" or something. Lo-fi black metal bands have been doing that for years. They couldn't afford the compression, and they knew it just sounds cool.

P: Really, everyone who makes loud music has been doing that forever. Sonic Youth? Black Flag?

N: Yeah and you can just tell this ass-backwards thinking extends to the way Krallice writes songs. "We just did all this technical stuff, so now let's hammer on one note for a really long time to be raw and hypnotic ." This shit's been done a thousand times before--Transylvanian Hunger???--but because they're doing it in their really gay way, its suddenly creative and deep!

P: Their whole sound works like that, actually. Its basically ripped off from old Slavic bands. Right after I finished with this piece of shit I threw on some Forest to cleanse my ears, and was struck by how similar the immediate impression was...this buzzing cloud of trem-picking over continuous blasting, where nothing really jumps out at you. You put it on in the background, and go to do something else. The difference is that five minutes into a Forest song you begin to pick up on this beautiful melody.

N: Yeah, that's something I love about Forest, you almost have to struggle to hear the music amid all the fuzz!

P: And once it emerges, it's amazing, and it's so exciting to hear where it goes! With a Krallice song, that moment never arrives, you just turn it off.

N: Something I've really been wondering is why these guys even have a vocalist.

P: Fuck I was thinking that too!

N: The vocals are just SO fucking tertiary to the song. The guy sings like two lines on each track, in a voice that's obviously an indie guy mimicking black metal vocals. Why are they even there? To prove you're a black metal band!?

P: And why should they even be screaming? Is he angry? We have no idea! It's purely a style choice. To me, the best black metal vocals are totally unhinged, like Ihsahn on the first Emperor E.P., or Varg.

N: Yeah, on his old stuff Varg isn't "doing black metal vocals," he's just screeching his fucking ass off.

P: Totally, and he still has that spirit. I love the inchoate screams and gurgles in Burzum's new track "Vanvidd." They go so beyond what is "cool" and "acceptable" that they actually made my friend uncomfortable.

N: Diotima doesn't have any of those scary parts. And those parts are what DEFINE black metal, and extreme metal in general.

P: Yep. There are no uncomfortable places here, just a lot of really unpleasant music.

Buy this album on Amazon

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