Krallice are an anomaly. Founded just under ten years ago from the ashes of various tech metal groups, the band’s curious fusion of pondering technicality, psychedelia and black metal has taken the extreme metal scene by storm in recent years. Despite Krallice’s relative success (especially for a black metal band), the band’s mouthpiece Mick Barr is unassuming – he’s packing up a few boxes of merch when we commence the interview.
Whilst the idea of playing or not playing shows is still taboo to some within the black metal scene, Krallice are a prolific live band in and around New York. “I really feel like black metal works really well live. It’s an amazing experience, whether I’m playing it or whether I’m gonna see it. As for Krallice, it’s all about music, it’s all about playing together, it’s all written live and it works best in a live setting.”
However the band don’t just limit themselves to purely black metal shows. On the idea of not playing exclusively with black metal bands, Mick says “To be honest, I don’t put much into the idea of a scene just based around a certain type of music, but there are a lot of interesting and diverse bands and music from across the United States.”
Much like the diverse array of music on offer across the US, Krallice’s music is a strange blend of influences, firmly rooted within black metal. “At the time we formed the plan was originally just to do one album influenced by all the Norwegian stuff we were into at the time; Ulver, Darkthrone, a lot of the early stuff from Norway, but equally stuff that’s coming out of Eastern European countries and Russia, but we’ve all also come from various other musical backgrounds so it’s quite a diverse mix. I guess the top 3 black metal influences would be Darkthrone, Drudkh and Absu.”
Strangely, the influence of Agalloch, which on first listen would appear to be a primary influence on the band’s labyrinthian audial structures, is nowhere to be found, at least from the band’s perspective: “I don’t think any of us really care much for Agalloch, maybe our bass player is kinda into them but really their influence isn’t there.” Mick is also disdainful of the ‘post-black metal’ label, which has been applied rather liberally to Krallice’s particular brand of the black metal sound. “I was reading a quote from the bass player of ISIS not too long ago, it seems like where it doesn’t feel right to call something black metal or it doesn’t feel right to call something hardcore, then they always just put post in front of it. The term post black metal is an easy way out, it doesn’t strictly mean anything, it just means that it hasn’t found its spot in history yet.”
Krallice’s take on the old school black metal sound is somehow on the conventional side of the left-handed path that is avant black metal today, combining an almost psychedelic black metal sound with tech-y tonal and rhythmic shifts. “I guess if you’re talking about the prog influence, yeah that’s kind of a newer thing.” The band’s black metal influences nestle somehow comfortably alongside the technical, more proggy side of the music, which for many is the bands selling point. “Prior to being in the band all of us were involved in proggy kinda music, tech metal-ly kinda stuff. Maybe it should have been a little more in the band from the beginning. One day we were trying out some new approaches that we hadn’t brought into the band before and we thought fuck it, let’s bring more of that influence in.”
As with pretty much every established Black Metal band, Krallice have suffered from a decidedly polarised reaction from listeners with each new album. “With the new album, there seems to be less of that [kvltists calling the band hipsters] than at any other time in the bands history. Our first four albums, it flipped between people who hated it and people who liked it, but with this album I’ve definitely seen a lot more hate and accusations from our own fanbase about us being not true or genuine.” Mick continues, “There are definitely people who don’t like this record, but I feel that’s as much other people who are bigger fans of our other material, who are disappointed that we’ve broadened our progressive influences.”
Whilst Krallice have seen their albums (especially 2015’s landmark Ygg Huur) picked up by publications such as Pitchfork, the band’s relative success and the acclaim surrounding their music doesn’t seem to be getting to their heads. “To be honest I don’t really have much of a way to gauge it y’know. Honestly, playing shows in New York feels the same it’s been since the start of the band, which, by the way has been amazing. We’re happy, I love the size this band has gotten.”
Krallice’s latest release Hyperion, is out now.