Krallice - _Diotima_
(Profound Lore, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (6 out of 10)
Looking at the whole of black metal can be broken down into waves. Many people know about black metal's infamous Norwegian second wave. The style's first wave, inversely, is wholly ignored for its younger, more violent brother. This then leads to a question about a potential third wave. The use of classifying a collection of bands into a wave is a way of simplifying history. Many of the first wave bands were still making important albums at the time of the second wave's inception. Few years separate the first and second wave, while any possible third wave is separated by more than a decade. To academically classify something a wave of a larger idea, there has to be a collective push into a new direction. North America would be a reasonable place for a third wave -- specifically concentrated on bands approaching the style from an angular perspective. If a third wave of black metal exists, New York veterans Krallice could be considered, unintentionally, one of its pioneering spirits.

The extended family tree of Krallice reaches into extreme metal as well as the larger avant-garde. Guitarist Colin Marston has been a lifetime member in the tech instrumental outfit Behold the Arctopus, as well as a recent appearance with Gorguts and progressive metal band Dysrhythmia. Mick Barr is also known as one half of the noise rock duo Orthrelm. Krallice began with a Behold the Arctopus / Orthrelm split in 2006 and evolved into the meditative black metal we have today. _Diotima_ is the band's third album in the ever changing world of New York City centric third wave black metal. All we know it is going to be extremely contemplative, angular and thick as a concrete.

_Diotima_ takes its name from an important figure in Plato's Symposium. Diotima of Mantiea proposes the notion of love as an ascension to the divine. The idea of platonic love would then transform into a non sexual admiration for both truth and virtue. Platonic love being one of the premiere subjects of a black metal record should not come as a surprise as eco-anarchism, spiritual awakenings and Pink Floyd tributes have all become commonplace in the metal landscape. _Diotima_'s pursuit of an academic tome becomes apparent as "Inhume"'s near seven minute running time is one of the shortest tracks in an album with over an hour left.

Krallice's vocals are lower than most black metal, sending in a death growl rather than a banshee shriek. The low snarl is slightly confusing, as most of the instrumentation skirts across the clouds. Orthrelm's history in noise repetition and Arctopus' bombastic flood is distilled into Krallice with one large formless mess. Save the album's title track, the bulk of _Diotima_ falls into a black metal woodchipper with a shower of noise exiting. While some of the songs shows promise, each one feels four minutes too long and with too many guitars -- even though there are only two.

Krallice's grouping of technically proficient musicians feels like an advanced academic class where above average products are made with little effort. Krallice waits until the night before and turns in a B- paper but never tries for anything greater. _Diotima_, conceptually, has all the right elements for a transcendental black metal record but stalls musically. This is surprising given the level of talent dripping from the seams, as well as the venerable record label distributing the album. I hesitate to call Krallice a supergroup because only two members are from other slightly less obscure bands. Still, the two dominant players in Krallice collide much in the same way a belt grinder hits a piece of steel. The shower of sparks heard is interesting for a few minutes but becomes a problem at the hour mark.

_Diotima_ more than does its share of celebrating black metal's potential third wave. I enjoyed this record more intellectually than I ever would emotionally or musically. Personally, I feel the avenue of classical philosophy and black metal has not yet been fully explored. Perhaps one day, Hellenic black metal or a record written on Aristotle's Four Causes will come to define this invisible wave. Until then we have a lost collection of bands that really don't share that much in common -- for now, at least.


(article published 15/5/2011)

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