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Wretched Wisdom: A WOBC Interview With Mick Barr of Krallice

Photo credit http://www.invisibleoranges.com/2013/04/live-photosvideo-absu-krallice/

With an all-star (and fully original) lineup that counts among its ranks multi-instrumentalist and producer Colin Marston (Gorguts, Dysrhythmia, Behold The Arctopus, etc), ever-busy bassist Nick McMaster (Geryon, Gath Smane, ex-Castevet), endurant skinsman Lev Weinstein (Geryon, Bloody Panda), and outre solo guitarist Mick Barr (Octis, Ocrilim, Crom-Tech), New York’s Krallice are nearly a supergroup at this point. The USBM pioneers have always possessed a single-minded drive for the experimental, drawing from yet ultimately eschewing both the riff-heavy paradigms established by the Scandinavian black metal progenitors and the occult dissonance of newer European BM. This approach is manifest in Krallice’s preoccupations with texture, atmosphere, and spontaneity, and it’s one that’s rendered the band controversial in the eyes of black metal traditionalists. But whatever your opinions may be about Krallice’s music, you can’t deny that it’s something different, and it’s only become more so over the last few years. The band’s last album, 2012’s Years Past Matter, saw the band traveling further outside the realm of BM conventions, incorporating clean guitars and a notable increase in aggression. WOBC Metal recently spoke to guitarist Mick Barr, who touched on some of the background of the group as well as on Krallice’s current pursuits and future plans.

It’s been almost 7 years since the first Krallice record came out. What do you think has changed most about your sound since then?

Our lives have evolved, and our brains and music must follow suit. However, our working methods haven’t changed much. We still write music using roughly the same methods; one of the 3 songwriters will bring forth a skeleton, and all 4 of us will write to it. We still practice and record at Colin’s studio Menegroth. We still have roughly the same gear. Writing-wise, we have been allowing more of our personal styles to rear their heads in our music: more death metal, more technicality, less repetitive black metal structuring. And I suppose the biggest change since the first album is Nick McMaster no longer just does “additional vocals”…

You all juggle a number of different side projects. Is Krallice your collective first priority? 

It seems like first priority usually goes to the band/project that books the individual member’s time the furthest in advance. This band is very important to all of us, but we aren’t the type of people to limit ourselves to one particular priority. Music is our first priority, and it takes many forms. And i don’t think any of us views anything we do as a “side-project”. However, Krallice is my personal first priority as far as “bands” I’m in. But I’m in way less bands than the other 3 members in Krallice, so I sometimes lament the lack of prioritization while we discuss scheduling.

One thing I find striking about your records is the sonic clarity that you achieve. How does this translate to a live setting? Does anything get lost? 

It seems to translate alright I guess. I strive to not worry much about live sound, as it seems to be a losing battle. I’m sure many things get lost, but many other things get found in the live setting. Things that might have been a bit clouded in the recording might ring louder. Also, how riffs are played evolve over time, which only gets a chance to be shown while being performed.

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Metal Workgroup Presents: From The Vault

 wkvt
While reorganizing the Metal Vault over the course of the last few years, Metal Workgroup got to chance to pick through a lot of forgotten favorites and new discoveries. The workgroup plans to continue featuring albums found in the vault over the course of the semester. Here are a few of the releases we’ve found noteworthy, written by the members of the workgroup:
Redemption – Snowfall on Judgment Day

Redemption are a power/prog metal band with no pretension. Let that sink in a second. Man’o’war: totally earnest power metal band with music about the pictures from DnD manuals. Dream Theater: so earnest about technicality that their name is a shorthand Guitar Center hell.

Even by the standard of sincerity for those groups, Redemption is honest. They have lyrics like “And in the solitude I’ve crafted for myself/I cry a single tear for beauty left unfelt.” Every song has keyboard solos that sound like a Final Fantasy game (Redemption are really a key player’s band). And it’s cool! It’s neat to listen to music that sounds like the people making it enjoyed it. Bonus, the drum performances are great! The technicality is there, but it avoids sounding like someone worshipped too long at the House of Peart.
The crispness of the production will be divisive. Snowfall has no dirt, and sometimes feels like it was engineered by a drum sequencer. If you need raw production, it’s not for you. Most of the songs drag a little; the median track length is about 6 and half minutes. The bloat comes from parts being repeated a few dozen times too many, so pace yourself. But the pearl is worth the price. Unironically liking earnest stuff is hard nowadays. Just give a track or two an honest shot.
-Kevin Gilfether
Soilent Green – A String of Lies

Clocking in at 11 minutes and 26 seconds, this 1998 EP from grindcore mainstay Soilent Green packs a fierce punch. The band sounds tight as hell, and they have no trouble making split-second transitions from brutal, straight grind sections to slow, sludgey riffs that you can’t help but bang your head to. The vocals, split between high pitched shrieks and deep growls, are unrelenting, and their consistency ties the various changes in tempo/energy within each song together. A String of Lies sums up pretty well what I love about good grindcore: concise, no-frills songwriting, excellent musicianship and a fearless intensity which makes it a lot of fun to listen to. Favorite track: Cat With Nine Claws.
-Gil Young
Ana Kefr – Volume One
2009 was a time of transition for new NWOAHM bands. Artists found themselves unsure how to present themselves, caught between the fading remnants of groove and metalcore, the derivative but ever-popular crush of deathcore, and the pretension of the burgenoning djent movement. The lack of a clear direction led bands to develop previously unheard-of genre-bending, for better and for worse LINK. LA’s Ana Kefr were one such band that successfully managed to cobble together seemingly disparate elements. Volume One, their 2009 debut, is technical but not ostentatious, melodic but not pandering, heavy but not contrived. Don’t let that make you think that the album is an easy pill to swallow: it’s all over the place, sliding back and forth between gritty Animosity-esque breakdowns, baroque riffs & vocals that reek of Nekrogoblikon, and keyboards that wouldn’t be out of place on an Ovid’s Withering album. Unconventional and underproduced, Volume One might not appeal to all, but its unique blend of stylistic elements will undoubtedly resonate with those who do take the time to delve into the album.
-Mark M-R

Samael – Solar Soul

Samael are a Swiss black/industrial metal group. While on our dangerous excavation into the vault we stumbled across their album Solar Soul. As the genre would suggest, Samael combine elements of black and industrial metal. The instrumentals are slow but heavy, combining guitars and drums with elements of middle eastern music (such as the oud). The vocals are smooth and honeyed with just a few bees left in to pack a sting.
Recommended tracks:
Quasar Waves
Slavocracy
Suspended Time
-Anna Rose Greenberg

Metal Workgroup’s Year In Review

WOBC METAL

2014 has been as tumultuous a year for metal as it has been for Oberlin and the world at large. Formerly rigid classifications have been bent backwards and broken, warped into positions a chiropractor wouldn’t even dream possible. This lack of regard for convention has allowed metal genres to shake off some of the stagnancy of the early 2010s, and has paved the way for seemingly disparate elements to synergize in unexpected harmonies, culminating in some of the most compelling metal music that’s ever been produced. Below is a list (in alphabetical order) of the most intriguing records metal workgroup has looked at over the course of the last year, dominated by Profound Lore and Relapse Records. Links to listen to album or song streams are available in the respective album titles:

Artificial Brain – Labyrinth Constellation (Profound Lore)

The Body/The Haxan Cloak – I Shall Die Here (Rvng. Intl)

Conan – Blood Eagle (Napalm)

Earth – Primitive And Deadly (Southern Lord)

Electric Wizard – Time To Die (Spinefarm)

Ethereal Riffian – Aeonian (Mulligore Production)

Gridlink – Longhena (Selfmadegod)

Indian – From All Purity (Relapse)

Inter Arma – The Cavern (Relapse) (most-chosen album by workgroup participants)

Job For A Cowboy – Sun Eater (Metal Blade)

Lord Mantis – Death Mask (Profound Lore)

Old Man Gloom – The Ape of God (Double Release – Pt 1 Pt 2) (Profound Lore)

Pallbearer – Foundations of Burden (Profound Lore)

Pyrrhon – The Mother of Virtues (Relapse)

Sterilizer – Sterilizer (Independent)

Swans – To Be Kind (Young God)

Today Is The Day – Animal Mother (Southern Lord)

Wrekmeister Harmonies – Then It All Came Down (Thrill Jockey)

Guitarist Erik Lindmark (Deeds of Flesh, Unique Leader Records): The WOBC Interview

Erik Lindmark is the remaining founding member of the brutal death metal band Deeds of Flesh, and is a co-founder of Unique Leader Records, both based out of Los Osos, CA. I spoke with Erik to discuss both the record label and Deeds of Flesh’s upcoming eighth full-length, Portals to Canaan.

WOBC: Hey Erik. Can you give us a little background about Unique Leader?

Erik Lindmark: Yeah, it started back in ’99, with Jacoby [Kingston, former Deeds of Flesh bassist and vocalist] and myself. We used to work for a CD manufacturing plant and there were some investors that wanted to start a label. They knew that we had a name that could start the label, so they gave us an offer and a hefty advance to run the label and to release… at the time it was “Path of The Weakening” – and they wanted us to bring in other bands and basically work the label, which we did. And it kind of all fell apart, where Jacoby and I ended up buying them out. From then, we built the roster that we have now. And a few years ago, I actually ended up buying out Jacoby. He just ended up doing something different with his life; we’re still friends and everything but it was his time to part ways with the whole music scene. So yeah – we specialized in technical, brutal, extreme death metal, and we’ve stuck with that niche ever since the beginning. We’re here today and we have about 90 releases and thing are going good!

 deeds of flesh band photo

 

WOBC: You guys have a new album coming out this June. It’s been 5 years since Of What’s To Come – what’s changed for you guys since then?

EL: Yeah, it’s been about four and a half years or so. I wouldn’t say much has changed since that album. I would say our change came with Of What’s To Come, where we really took a different approach in working with the concept and concentrating a bit more on the second guitar. Every album before Of What’s To Come, we wrote with the mindset that we were a three-piece, because in the past, we have been a three-piece. We’ve had lots of live guitarists, but we usually tour as a three-piece, and we never wanted to do anything on our albums that we couldn’t recreate live. It just sounds hollow to me when you have lead work going on with the bass backing it up; it just doesn’t fly for us. So what we decided to do [on Of What’s To Come] was take the approach that we would always be a four-piece from now on, and worked a bit more on adding that second guitar and really bringing it to the forefront of our writing.

The vocals were a bit different too; since Of What’s To Come, we’ve approached them where it’s a bit more in-your-face. When we wrote the vocals before, we’d kind of play the riff and just kind of see how the vocals would fit while playing guitar at the same time, whereas recently we made up patterns and made them flow better rather than just changing as the guitar changes. There are a lot more syllables, and counts, and measures. I’d say those are the biggest changes from our previous albums until Of What’s To Come and this album. This one definitely takes off where Of What’s To Come left off. And of course, we have a couple new members – Craig Peters and Ivan Mungula from Arkaik. There were no hard feelings with the old guys – it was just their time to move on from music, which is fine. With Erlend [Caspersen, bassist of Spawn of Possession], it was a little different. We kind of wanted to be closer together if we needed to practice, or if we wanted to get together for band shots, or do one-off shows or whatever. But with Erlend being in Scandinavia, and us being here in the United States, it was kind of difficult to do. Now we’re all in California and it’s a bit easier, so that was the reason for that decision. Craig and Ivan are good guys and hard workers, and they shred.

WOBC: You had tendonitis last year – did that affect your writing process at all?

EL: Yeah, unfortunately I’m still battling that, which is why we haven’t done any shows. We’re still deciding what to do. I was trying to just let it heal, and now that the album is done, I’ve just been staying away from playing guitar and using my arm in any strenuous way. That’s the reason for the live hiatus. But as far as writing and recording went, it didn’t affect me because I was still able to play. I just couldn’t play for an extended amount of time. At about a minute and a half to two minutes in, if I’m playing a song straight through, it just starts to burn and burn to the point where I can’t get any pressure on the frets, and it just gives out. But when you’re recording, you record in sections, so if I’m doing 30-second sections or whatever, I’m able to do that.

Playing live, and playing songs all the way through, is unfortunately impossible right now. If the arm heals, we’ll probably go back to using another frontman vocalist like we were going to do originally. It was going to be Corey from Flesh Consumed, who was a huge help in the concept and the writing of the album. At the time, I didn’t have the problem, so he was going to take Jacoby’s spot as the vocalist and I’d be able to focus more on guitar and maybe background vocals. If the arm doesn’t heal, I’ll probably do vocals, and we’ll get a second guitar player. It’s still up in the air, but that’s why we haven’t been going out on the road or playing any shows. At least right now, we can still put out albums and write.

Deeds-of-Flesh-Portals-To-Canaan

WOBC: Can you go over some of the gear you use?

EL: Over the years, it’s varied. I’ve used rack gear – Mesa, ENGL – as far as cabs I just use Marshalls. There’s some direct stuff I use. For the last album we ended up using a mix of the Dual Rectifier and the ENGL Special Edition, and it worked really well. It was an idea that Zach [Ohren] of Castle Ultimate Studios had. I’d say my favorite head that I’ve used is probably the ENGL Special Edition, just because of how cutting and razor-sharp the notes are rather than being a more open woofy sound like a Rectifier has. We blended the two – best of both worlds.

WOBC: Any favorite guitars?

EL: Well, I’m endorsed by Jackson. I like the Soloist, and I like the R1T. Another thing I forgot to mention that we did on this album that we haven’t done before was the incorporation of seven-strings. We have that low end going on, which we haven’t used before.

WOBC: Anything else you’d like to add?

EL: I hope people like the new album; we put a lot of effort into it. Stay patient with us as far as getting out on the road. That’s the biggest thing we really want to do again. Thanks for the support.

Portals to Canaan comes out June 25 on Unique Leader. Preorder packages are available here. The 9th annual Bloodletting North America tour, featuring Unique Leader artists Gorod, Inanimate Existence, and Kamikabe, will be stopping in Lakewood on May 13. Full dates available here.