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(37:47, Karisma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Black Wandering Sun 3:41 2. Sirens 3:42 3. The Stranger 6:54 4. From Fire, From Stone 6:34 5. Minus 9:44 6. Tidlaus 7:12 LINEUP: Frode Kilvik - bass, vocals Rene Misje - guitars, vocals Kjartan Gronhaug - guitars Ask Ty Arctander - drums With: Phil Campbell - guitars
Prolusion. Norwegian band KRAKOW was formed back in 2003, and since then they have been a band in constant development as recording artists, gradually moving from a more distinct niche metal sound revolving around sludge and stoner metal towards more experimental fare. "Minus" is their most recent production, and was released in the late summer of 2018 through Norwegian label Karisma Records.
Analysis. It is rather appropriate that this is an album that is released at the very end of summer, when the fall season have already started to make an impact. This due to this compact production being a rather dark and gloomy one, kind of setting the mood for the season that lies ahead. Happy music this is not, in any way, form or shape. It is also a type of music extremely hard to describe and categorize, other than probably being some variety of post metal. The bands glides effortlessly from booming guitars and heavy set drums to passages of a more delicate and perhaps even tranquil nature at times, yet just about always retains one detail of darkness and gloom. More intense drums, a booming bass or sickly instrument sounds - the darkness never totally leaves the landscapes the band opts to explore. If this production has an identity marker, darkness is a solid part of it. In terms of style Krakow tends to opt for the slower paced landscapes, with brief moments of higher intensity inserted when needed. Apart from the opening songs that is, as they opt for a more intense delivery whenever a song is shorter than five minutes it would appear. Many of the elements used are similar however, with dramatic vocals halfway buried in instrument textures, guitars and bass booming in alternating patterns, sharp or more careful and melodic overlays and guitar solo parts, and a subtle sheen of psychedelia inserted here and there for good measure. There's doom and gloom, otherworldly bleak psychedelia and glimpses of shimmering post rock, well cooked to a fine stew and liberally seasoned with expressive dramatic effects. Krakow then navigates into slightly calmer waters on the longer title track, kind of a refined and more sophisticated take on their sound going on there, and continues so on concluding cut Tidlaus. That is, until the layered backing vocals kicks in on the latter after five minutes and a bit, instigating a more dramatic and powerful finish to this CD that rather makes the album experience come full circle. A powerful production this one, without any flaws as such too. Expressive doom and gloom explored to perfection, the perfect soundtrack for a dystopian, post-nuclear movie if I ever heard it.
Conclusion. Those who enjoy progressive metal of the kind that ventures where few others wants to tread, and blend dramatic and expressive impulses with doom metal, post-rock and psychedelia into a pitch black post metal brew are in luck, as this is an album tailor made for this particular audience. Executed pretty much close to perfection.
Progmessor: August 29th, 2018
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