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Krallice Record Release Show at The Webster Studio, May 1st, 2011

Krallice Record Release Show at The Webster Studio, May 1st, 2011
New York City’s Krallice, the city’s best metal band, played their record release show for Diotima, their towering third full length, at the Webster Studio on Wednesday. Hosted by The Blackened Music Series, the concert series responsible for most recently bringing Agalloch to Le Poisson Rouge, amongst dozens of other outstanding metal shows, the evening was a triumphant homecoming for a band and their fans who can proudly champion their local heroes as forerunners of experimental black metal.
As anyone who knows Krallice can imagine, it must be difficult to serve as an opener at their energetic and polished shows. The first opening band to take the plunge, Ipsissimus, are an upcoming black metal band from New Haven with a forthcoming debut record coming out via Metal Blade. A cursory listen to the band on MySpace had me intrigued and excited to hear some bare bones, old school black metal. Unfortunately, this was not to be the case. Despite singer and bassist Tichondrius’ enthusiastic efforts, the band’s sound was hollow and of little substance, a bland blend of contrived black metal riffs that seemed all the more unconvincing and trite in that they were played by a guy who goes by “His Emissary” but who looked like a dude on his way to a kegger. I understand that image is not necessarily the most important part of a band (to his credit, Tichondrius put on a good show), but given that the band’s bio emphasizes the fact that the band formed on 6/6/06 and their stage names (the drummer’s is Haimatokharmes—someone fill me in), on top of the fact that their music lacked any remarkable qualities, a different look would have suited them. The problem with Ipsissimus is that they put themselves forward as a tongue in cheek production, but part of the joke isn’t there—the quality music that would legitimize it.
Next up was Withered, an extreme black/death metal four-piece from Atlanta who were more up to the challenge, if not solely for their quality then also for their fortunate contrasting style to Krallice.  I am not very familiar with Withered, but their bruising and chaotic music successfully flirts with the boundaries of insanity. Crushing guitars and filthy vocals are the norm in Withered’s music, but occasionally the band interlaced the chaos with moments of controlled and more traditional death metal. I will leave it at that, but if Cannibal Corpse and a dash of black metal is the kind of thing that gets you going, you might want to take a look.
Lastly, Krallice. From the opening bars of “The Clearing” off of Diotima, it was clear that this was going to be a special show. Layered whining guitars, blast beats, and an absurd dose of technical experimentation were executed flawlessly, creating a special atmosphere that is difficult to describe. Nick McMaster’s growls and Mick Barr’s tortured screams are not only menacing but also ethereal, and their presence on stage, McMaster’s veins popping through his massive neck and Barr’s hair draped around his anguished face, is something to behold. Not that the rest of the band are slouches—the stage burst with contagious energy during Krallice’s set as they tore through their relentless and atmospheric tracks, McMaster flanked by band founding guitarists Barr and Colin Marston and backed by the indefatigable Lev Weinstein on drums. I found it interesting that at the end of the show, a sweaty McMaster pushed through the crowd to man the band’s merch table, humbly accepting congratulations from fans. The Blackened Music Series referred to Krallice as “the best band in New York City,” and they may be right.
Footage of the show, courtesy of (((unartig))), can be found here, and a recorded version of “The Clearing” can be listened to at the Profound Lore webpage.

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