[8.5/10] When Krallice emerged from the abyssal murk in 2008 their effects on the metal world (whether specific to black or not) were nothing if not immediate and polarizing. On the one hand the dazzling technical displays filtered through a lightning paced black metal frame: moving, exhausting, and often glorious to the point of inducing blindness. On the other hand, detractors are apt to say the music amounts to little more than a cacophonous mess of tremolo wankery and senseless blasting played for much too long. Both of these opinions are found in abundance wherever Krallice and fan discourse come together and neither are going to have their minds changed with Years Past Matter, the newest and fairly unequivocally best release by the band yet.
The reemergence of dynamics is readily apparent in opener “IIIIIII” (all songs follow this naming style), which opens with quiet and slowly escalates to the commonly known roar of the band in top gear. While the familiar streaming and interlocking tremolo shredding and blast heavy aesthetics are alive and well, the conceptual core of the band’s sound racing forward toward ascendency. The integration of atmospheric and down-tempo moments, largely absent since the debut, make a surprising and welcome return, fleshing out the corners of “IIIIIIII” and making up the entirety of the short interlude-esque track “IIIIIIIIIII." Songs themselves are as usual multipart epics of pulsating melodies and frantic shredding, all streaming movements dedicated to the idea of purification through ritual flames, and the flames on Years Past Matter are burning hotter than ever before.
Krallice has never been a group to shy away from absolutely colossal and triumphant closers and the nigh-17 minutes of “IIIIIIIIIIII” is not only their best in a long-line of quality closers but arguably their best song, period. Climax after climax makes for the first ten minutes and then suddenly, after this enormous melodic break around the 10:40 mark, it’s as though the final minutes of this world are being made manifest in the downward spiral of intensity that follows until, in contrast to most of the bombast that fills every other corner of the album, it ends without argument with a cut to black. Annihilation personified.
Krallice does not reinvent the wheel they’ve given birth to, but they do make enough subtle changes to their methodologies that despite their prolific output over the past several years they remain in top form. The ever-intertwining and at times dizzying guitar work and hyper-kinetic drumming remain anchored by the monstrous wall-of-bass that has long served as the band’s guidance are all here and accounted for.
At times, as is ever the case with a Krallice release, there is some inevitable bleeding together, with songs this ‘on’ and going for the extreme lengths that they do, the devil is in the details and as sprawling as those details are without foremost attention being paid it’s easy to be swept up in the storm and lose your way. The injection of pieces of quiet into the fury however, tempers it in a way that gives the band a kind of fire it’s never shown, perhaps amplified by some kind of newfound swagger brought about by their departure from Profound Lore. Whatever the case may be, Krallice has delivered in Years Past Matter their best work yet.