Label: Karisma Records
There are a lot of contradictions at play during the duration of minus. The new album from Krakow is dense and heavy, filled with that kind of musical and emotional weight that is so important in post-metal being a success. Yet there’s also a kind of grace to it, with moments of deftness contrasting strongly with the moments of skull-crushing heaviness. There’s even moments of outright rock’n’roll swagger, including a solo from Phil Campbell (yes, he of Motorhead). And yet somehow it all comes together in style, bringing together so many different styles and sounds into a remarkably cohesive whole, that is as filled with emotional bloodletting as it is moments of sheer riff-based pleasure.
The opening track, ‘Black Wandering Sun’, perhaps best demonstrates this. Its early moments make it seem like the bastard child of Conan and Neurosis – incredibly heavy, moving with a slow-tempo stomp that could level buildings with the strength of its impacts. Yet as the track moves on, it evolves in to something different; the musical heaviness is forever present, but the emotional side becomes stronger and stronger as the song goes on, with the clean vocals contrasting well with the muscularity of the music. And then, during its closing moments, the aforementioned Phil Campbell solo kicks in, imbuing the song’s final moments with a rock’n’roll spirit. It’s a combination that, on paper, shouldn’t work; yet on record, the results are impossible to deny.
‘Black Wandering Sun’ isn’t the only track that pulls such seemingly contradictory elements together with impressive results. ‘From Fire From Stone’ feels simultaneously progressive and regressive; its crude riffs and caveman rhythms the sound of early man striking rocks together to discover fire, and uncovering the secrets of the universe in the same moment. ‘The Stranger’ is as reminiscent of Sonic Youth’s more damaged, noise-rock influenced moments as it is post-metal; and the title track and closer ‘Tidalus’ both possess a sense of grace and nimbleness to it that is more usually found in jazz than in post-metal, all whilst still constructing the kind of emotionally charged soundscapes more akin to post-rock than anything else.
And yet, with so many different styles and influences at play, and with each track having such a distinct identity, it is remarkable how well Krakow pull everything together in to a cohesive whole. This demonstrates how much time has been spent crafting these songs, and also of the fact that – no matter the musical avenue being explored at any one time – there’s a sense of consistent personality and a flowing atmosphere to minus that holds everything together. It makes the album feel like an unfolding narrative; not so much in the sense of beginning-middle-end, but in the sense of a story unfolding, with a clear line that can be drawn between each section in terms of progression. It may take some time to get the most out of, but minus is an album loaded with the promise of catharsis, and an undeniable character.