Kraków – Alive (Dark Essence Records, 24 March 2017)
From the first time I heard them, Norwegian post-metallurgists Kraków quickly became one of my favorite bands out there, through their grasp of the beautiful and fragile meshed with the ugly and frightening, spread out over long meandering compositions that enthrall the listener with their aural stories.
As many times as I’ve listened to their releases (the three most recent of which were written about right here), the appearance of a live album was certainly exciting news. On top of that, we’ve recently learned that another new record will be appearing later this year! In this post you can find out more about that live album — and then at the end, what we know so far about their next one!
Alive was recorded during the Dark Essence label night at Blastfest (in the band’s hometown of Bergen) — a performance that reportedly “included lasers, electronics and two drum kits,” as well as an augmentation of Kraków‘s core line-up with their producer and various other session players and friends joining in on additional keyboards and drums.
The performance included four songs — all of which have been compiled into the digital-only album — pulled from their first three LPs. The opener is the instrumental “Monolith” which had been the closer on their debut album of the same name. A very slowly-building post-metal journey, this gentle excursion into minor-key paradise serves as an ideal introduction to the band’s sound.
The middle two songs were pulled from the band’s latest album, Amaran: “Vitriol,” with its sickly dead-pan vocals (played live here for the first time ever!), and “Of Earth,” another instrumental but one that shows the band’s darker and heavier (and, well, more vitriolic) side.
To round out the evening, there could not have been a better choice than “Mound” from 2012’s Diin — already unquestionably my personal favorite track from these guys’ catalog, but stretched out slightly further here )sixteen minutes from the original thirteen); and taking that incredible build-up of intensity and emotion that comes throughout the latter portion of the song, and injecting every ounce of energy the band and their guests could muster, resulting in an even more impressive version of what was already a masterpiece.
Alive is available to download or stream right here.
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Experimental Post Metallers Kraków Reveal Details of Upcoming Album
“Six songs. Nine singers. Three guitarists. Two drummers. One bassist. Kraków is back with a new album, summarized in title as minus. The result of laborious and intense work over the course of a year, with two and a half albums’ worth of music chiselled down to one perfected collection of songs, the band is finally ready to reveal details of its upcoming album.
“With themes spanning from outer space to the hidden worlds deep below, travelling in time from distant future to nearer past like an inverted space odyssey, we are taken on a journey through stories, as much a reflection of those we tell as a revelation of those we won’t.
“Stunning visually, a complete physical design inspired by the music and defined by the patterns that shaped those songs, the vinyl and CD editions promise to be gems as suited to the stereo as to the shelf above it.
“And the music, as always stretching towards the outer borders of any attempted genre definition covers the heavy, the subtle, the melodic, the atonal, the groovy, the absolutely ungroovy, the dense, the airy, the naked, and, always, always, that wall of sound where no light can escape before the singer stands there alone with his last story. There are guests, they bring glitz and rock n’ roll as well as a grounding force towards the mountain core. There is beauty, and there is rotten decay, like a lush forested island in a lake of septic water. There are monsters and there are saints, and none of them reveal themselves, we must find those cracks on our own.
“It’s a collection of contradictions, is what we’re saying. It’s a Kraków album.”
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Minus is expected via Karisma Records on 31 August 2018. Expect to hear plenty more about it right here on Valley of Steel, as we learn more ourselves.