By Jonathan Smith
The third full-length release from New York black metallers Krallice may as well be considered the third in a musical and aesthetic trilogy. Once again many of the band’s trademarks are here—tightly-controlled and ferociously intertwined guitar riffs that give the impression that they’re about to come apart, a strong spine of bass and drums, and an interplay of growls and shrieks. While there are significant steps forward and enough little differences here and there to please veteran fans, ultimately Diotima feels a bit too familiar for its own good.
Overall Diotima contributes more goodness to the band’s catalogue. There are more deep growls in this outing, balancing out the high-pitched shrieks and lending more of a sense of power to the band’s musical prowess. The explosive and untitled opening track doesn’t leave room for doubt that the album is going to be exhausting, a recorded attempt to mimic the high energy of a Krallice live performance. The ability to sway the listener appears in full force on both the title track and “Litany of Regrets.” Most of “Telluric Rings” is ambitious in its ability to carry the listener through multiple stages, finally bringing everything down to a close that acts (finally!) as something of a breather. Musically the most interesting track is closer “Dust and Light.” It features a sound that brings to mind the more ambient black metal of a west coast band like Wolves In The Throne Room. The combination of that “fullness” of sound with Krallice’s manic shifts and Lev Weinstein’s impressive drumming is very exciting indeed, and after repeated listenings it remains my favorite track.
There are a few moments on Diotima that aren’t as strong as the others. “Inhume” and “The Clearing” don’t leave a major impression, and they also come off as the album’s two weaker tracks; they fail to distinguish themselves from the rest of the songs, and don’t really represent the memorable grooves that the band is capable of unleashing. “Telluric Rings,” otherwise an amazing song, is an example of a song that overstays its welcome when it winds down perfectly but then unnecessarily ramps up again for an extra minute or so.
Diotima is another strong album from Krallice, but just the same it leaves me wishing for something just a little bit more engaging on an emotional, as opposed to just a technical, level. “Dust and Light” hints at a possible future direction. Now with three albums under their belt, it would be the perfect time for the band to consider tweaking their formula just a little bit more. Some new experimentation on top of the solid base that they have already
established would be something to hear.