NYC’s ever-prolific Krallice have crafted a masterpiece of compelling lo-fi black metal on their new full-length album, Demonic Wealth.
Diving into the music’s dream-like blur feels like sinking into a murky bog and suddenly seeing disorienting visions of what feels like an alternate dimension but might be all imagination.
Krallice recorded their parts in some definitely noteworthy set-ups. The group’s Lev Weinstein — who occasionally sounds like he has more than two arms at points on Demonic Wealth — recorded his drum parts on a phone, and vocalist Mick Barr recorded his parts “in the car by the swamp,” according to the album credits on Bandcamp. The record definitely features some swampy vibes, but the coarse texture of the recording only adds to the album’s mystically grim allure. It doesn’t overwhelm the actual power of the compositions.
Substantial portions of the music feel like sudden detours into teeming and overgrown forest passageways, one right after another. The rhythms feel jarringly off-kilter, but there’s always a resounding forward force, so there’s a sense of some kind of behind-the-scenes orchestration of the music — it’s not overwhelmingly chaotic — but the guide for this musical tapestry is not in the center. The unpredictability makes the journey feel invigorating, like a sudden adrenaline infusion — but it’s not necessarily exhilarating in a cathartic or triumphant sense. The central perspective feels more like moving through shadowy woods without any firm knowledge of what’s behind the trees, and this menacing sense of dread extends throughout the entire album.
On the flip side, the music — which is frequently rather brisk — doesn’t feel particularly mournful, and it’s not necessarily despairing. Instead, the songs feel more like a psychedelically grating haze of tension, as though Krallice are exploring a sort of mystical torment. The dynamic sonic grime feels grounded — it’s not totally blinding, and the dynamics feel quite poignant — so this sense of illuminating tension feels particularly close-to-the-chest.
There are chilly yet dramatic synths across the album, which help establish a sense of regal grandiosity like that which might be found in some old-timey royal court — but this royal court isn’t celebrating a victory. Instead, the music feels more like cowering alone on the floor while bloody and wounded after a vicious battle.
The isolation part of that equation figures prominently in the mix. While they’re superbly compelling, the riffs aren’t particularly soaring — there aren’t really any familiar melodic black metal vibes here. Instead, the music feels punishingly grim, although there’s definitely a creeping sense of wonder in the sound. It’s a jam — even if sometimes dizzying, the instrumentals feel striking, and the craftsmanship is top-notch. There are no cracks here (besides the ones that are intentional).
Krallice establish the foundation for Demonic Wealth on track one, “Folds of Plasma,” on which the sprawling rhythms careen devilishly but carry an elevating forward energy. “Mass for the Strangled” and “Disgust Patterns” feel particularly torrential, like the sudden beginning of a storm. On other tracks, like “Still,” the synths feel particularly prominent. There’s a bit of warmth in their drama, but the synths still feel confrontational, with ample underlying force. Meanwhile, even in the comparatively lighter sections, there’s just about always a fierce undercurrent from Weinstein’s marvelously cacophonous drumming.
Listen to Demonic Wealth below!