Krallice : Porous Resonance Abyss
It is tempting to be flippant and refer to Porous Resonance Abyss as “Krallice goes Rush,” but this misunderstands a few salient key points. Firstly, the initialization of the prolific black metal group’s shift toward the stargazing and awestruck synth-driven prog soundscapes we associate with Rush began back on Go Be Forgotten with its title track, which seemed to sit somewhere between both books of the “Cygnus X-1” duology of that great prog band. Secondly and perhaps most pertinently is how the third of era of the band, which began with Mass Cathexis and covers the COVID years forward, has seen the band leaning more and more heavily in this kind of progressive rock-driven direction, slowly stripping away the black metal save for as euphoric rapturous bursts of energy in these galactic races. This in part came from an instrumentation pivot, with Mick Barr swapping his guitar for Nicholas McMaster’s bass and Colin Marston moving over full-time to synths. This shift in instrumentation largely mirrors a shift in Marston’s own compositional direction, having focused largely on the world of kosmische and progressive electronic music for the past number of years across several projects from Arelseum to Indricothere, which put out a gobsmacking two-part project called ALL TIME / OLD TIME comprising of several hour-plus tracks of synths.
That latter project seems to be the ideal point to parse this project. Porous Resonance Abyss reads like a project begun by Marston as a solo synth venture, mirroring a great deal of his specific approach to melody and harmonic tension he explored in those Indricothere albums, but here abetted by his bandmates in Krallice. The benefit of such a stable unit of deeply idiosyncratic voices is that, even though the primary body of these tracks read as functionally Marston solo compositions, the addition of the orchestrated and symphonic guitars, bass and drums brings them firmly in line with the Krallice canon. In fact, the sonic makeup of these tracks winds up incidentally cinching up tightest to the early first phase of the group, comprising their self-titled debut up to Years Past Matter. The space fixation, opaque three-word title and hash-strike track numbering schema even feel like a sly nod to Matter, although this record ends at four and Matter starts at seven so perhaps that’s more a lay passing familiarity than an intentional one. Still, the resonant element is there and mirrors the devout cosmicism of those early days, especially the aforementioned sense of divine euphoria that was all over Dimensional Bleedthrough. The approach here mirrors that of Italian group Progenie Terrestre Pura, who likewise took a stance of fusing classic arch and nimble progressive rock and trace elements of black metal with sequencers and kosmische synth work.
Tonally, Porous Resonance Abyss leans toward an open and shockingly joyous sound. Krallice even at their bleakest expanses of black metal were never particularly cold; they are passionate romantics at heart, cleaving more to the drama and sturm-und-drang of black metal as a form than the resolute coldness, which explains as well how comfortable they are with the more imagistic expanses of progressive music. But the shift here to an almost entirely progressive rock and metal format pulls out those joyful images we associate with goth rock at its interior core, the slashes of neon against the gleam of rain puddles on asphalt, the reflection of starlight against the black mirror of the wet highway, the way cold air can be refreshing and affirming. On one hand, gazing at the tracklist, one might be excited to hear “Part IIII,” Krallice’s first 20-plus-minute song ever, a boundary they somehow had yet to cross; in practice, the album-oriented syncreticism of this era of the band draws the eye away from independent pieces like that and instead orients it to the warm and affirming whole. If the middle period from Ygg Huur to Wolf was one of wildly differing experiments, then this era has thus far been defined by a richer integration of elements explored across their body of work. By that metric, Porous Resonance Abyss places itself both firmly atop the ranking of this era of the group as well as indicating the seemingly limitless potential this foursome has for exploring these richly progressive soundscapes. That it’s pitched down the plate right at my specific heart doesn’t hurt too much either.
Langdon Hickman is listening to progressive rock and death metal. He currently resides in Virginia with his partner and their two pets.