Thursday, June 09, 2011

Krallice: Diotima (2011)


Krallice's third full-length, Diotima, was one of the most highly-anticipated releases of the year for the "forward-thinking" metal crowd, i.e., the people who make regular monthly purchases from Profound Lore. That's usually the kind of music I like, so I dove right in. But it's taken me quite a while to digest the album.

DiotimaThere is a great deal to be said about this. It's challenging music, which takes a number of listens to unravel. If you've heard them before, you know what I mean. The tools are mainly those of black metal: high-speed, high-pitched tremolo riffs and screechy vocals. Like many of the early black metal masters, they use repetition to great effect. But what sets them apart is the use of a lot of major chords and the fact that rarely do any two instruments play the same thing.

Of course, there is the inevitable criticism levelled against music that's challenging, high-brow, artsy, or whatever you want to call it. They say it's pretentious. And there is the oft-heard refrain, "If you like Krallice, then why don't you like Liturgy?"

Anyone with a brain can see that's a stupid question. To be fair, the two bands have a very similar sound and approach. People who like Blind Guardian aren't expected to like every single power metal band out there. There is a difference. And, more importantly, when most people use the word "pretentious" they just mean "snooty" or "artsy". If that's what you think, then this record is not for you. To be pretentious, you have to try or pretend to be something greater than you are. Liturgy's Hunter Hunt-Hendrix stated that it's better to aim at something higher than you can reach. But that's exactly what pretension is: pretending to be something greater than you are.

Krallice, on the other hand, CAN reach it. They grasp what it is they're trying to be. There is the key difference. Standout cuts "The Clearing" and "Telluric Rings" are incontrovertible proof. Not all of it is musically successful. "Litany of Regrets" should describe how they feel about including that song on the record. But even there, you can tell they fully grasp what they're doing, even if they do briefly miss the mark.

The Verdict: Any idiot with a guitar and an amp can pretend to be an "artist", and some people will believe it. Krallice is the real deal, even if they aren't perfect. I give Diotima 4 out of 5 stars.


  1. I enjoyed Dimensional Bleedthrough but was put off the new one by a scathing review at that concluded that the album as a whole was far too much of a chore to wade through to be worth the moments of genius scattered throughout. What's your view on that?

  2. There are some strong similarities, and the album's trajectory follows a pretty similar path--but I think they did some things better this time around, while some things weren't done as well. I felt like it was a different album.