Orthrelm and Krallice

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OV (2005), 7.5/10
Octis: Ocrilim (2005), 6/10
Ocrilim: Anoint (2006) , 6.5/10
Ocrilim: Annwn (2008), 6/10
Ocrilim: Annwn 2 (2012) , 6/10
Krallice: Krallice (2008), 7.5/10
Krallice: Dimensional Bleedthrough (2009), 7/10
Krallice: Diotima (2011), 6.5/10
Krallice: Years Past Matter (2012), 6/10
Krallice: Ygg huur (2015), 6/10
Krallice: Hyperion (2016), 6.5/10
Krallice: Prelapsarian (2016), 6.5/10
Krallice: Loum (2017), 5/10
Krallice: Go Be Forgotten (2017),, 5/10

Encenathrakh: Encenathrakh (2015)
, 7/10

Encenathrakh: Thraakethraaeate Thraithraake (2020)
, 5/10

Orthrelm is a Washington-based duo formed by former Crom-tech and Quix*o*tic's bassist Mick Barr, now on guitar, and drummer Josh Blair, a member of avantgarde ensemble ABCs) that debuted with a 99-track 13-minute EP Asristir Vieldriox (Troubleman Unlimited, 2002), in a hardly recognizable metalcore sub-style. But the real revelation was OV (Ipecac, 2005), a full-length album containing a single 45-minute track that married the speed of grindcore and the repetition of Terry Riley's minimalism. The piece revolves around very few ideas, but each is developed to a manic detail and intensity. It is a relentless, dense and tense stream of consciousness. It is as tortured as the post-rock meditations of Slint or Don Caballero, although streamlined to the point of resembling a mathematical operation (not convoluted like a mathematical theorem), except that the fury is punk or metal or both. The first 17 minutes are devoted to a frenzied repetition of simple guitar-drums patterns with little or no variation. Then a syncopated supra-pattern causes the micro-patterns to split and drama enters the geometry of spacetime. A new, shrill pattern begins after a sequence of glissandoes with no drums. By the 30-minute mark, the guitar's manic runs have become quite agonizing and the drumming has become pure electricity. Orthrelm's hypnotic and transcendent post-metal explicits the loop from the psyche back to the psyche that is the fundamental principle of art.

Barr also played in Octis, that released Ocrilim (Troubleman Unlimited, 2005), a 33-minute piece for guitar and drum machine.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Luca Cantoreggi)

Mike Barr suonava la chitarra negli Quix*o*tic, band capeggiata dalle due cantanti blues (Christina and Mira Billotte) che ha pubblicato Night For Day (Ixor Stix, 2000) e Mortal Mirror (Kill Rock Stars, 2002).

Il loro sound è un’originale combinazione di garage-rock e lunge-music.

Orthrelm è un duo formatosi a Washington (dal chitarrista Mike Barr e dal batterista Josh Blair) che ha debuttato con Asristir Vieldriox (Troubleman Unlimited, 2002), un EP di 13 minuti e 99 brani, in un sotto-stile metalcore difficilmente riconoscibile. Ma la vera rivelazione è stato OV (Ipecac, 2005), un intero album contenente un’unica canzone di 45 minuti che sposa la velocità del grindcore e il minimalismo ripetitivo di Terry Riley. Il brano gira intorno a poche idee, ma ciascuna sviluppata con un’intensità e dettaglio maniacali.

E’ un flusso di coscienza inesorabile, frenetico, denso e carico di tensione. E’ tormentato e contorto così come lo sono le meditazioni post-rock degli Slint o dei Don Caballero, ma la violenza è quella del punk o del metal o di entrambi.

Barr ha anche suonato negli Octis, che hanno pubblicato Ocrilim (Troubleman Unlimited, 2005), un brano di 33 minuti per chitarra e drum machine.

Barr's solo project Ocrilim was credited for two ferociously inventive (but also maddeningly self-indulgent) guitar albums: Anoint (I & Ear, 2006), a massive seven-movement symphony for overdubbed guitars reminiscent of Glenn Branca, and for the seven-movement Annwn (Hydra Head, 2008), again for multi-tracked guitar. The three-LP box-set The Purging Trilogy - Sacreth / Ixoltion / Hymns (Rock Is Hell, 2011) collects rare recordings for guitar and drum-machine. The mini-album Ment (2008), credited to both Ocrilim and Octis, contains just two lengthy pieces.

Josh Blair also drummed for Supersystem.

Shred Earthship (2006) and ZH/MB Volume 2 (Rock Is Hell, 2007) were collaborations between Mick Barr and drummer Zach Hill.

Infidel? / Castro!, the duo of bassist Colin Marston and George Korein, released Infidelicacy (2000), Case Studies In Bioentropy (2001) and the double album Bioentropic Damage Fractal (2005).

Mick Barr formed the black-metal band Krallice (drummer Lev Weinstein and bassist Colin Marston) that debuted with the highly technical Krallice (Profound Lore, 2008). Each of the lengthy pieces is a concentrate of tension and pathos, largely built on guitar noise and quasi-blasting drums. Wretched Wisdom expresses pure unbridled energy in the juxtaposition of superhuman fibrillating guitar versus giant pounding beats, the collision ending in manic Yes-style circular riffing. Cnestorial, a personal interpretation of the codes of black metal, stages werewolf-style howling soaring above an intensely epic guitar progression, so that, as the relentless frenzy stokes even the coldest hearts, the vocals acquire epic overtones of their own. The terrifying supernova-like momentum of Timehusk, with screams buried in an avalanche of frantic notes and beats, basically sprints towards self-destruction. The peak of melodrama is perhaps Energy Chasms for agonizing (and unusually unstable) music, synthesizer-like guitar solo, and desperate vocals. This is the major exception to the rule that each piece is a monolith simply repeating itself. The 15-minute Forgiveness In Rot simply lets loose those devastating pulverizing drums and guitars strummed to their physical limit, and it feels like an army of gorillas banging their heads on trees at lightning speed, an intense protracted act of self-flaggelation.

Krallice's largely improvised sessions yielded Dimensional Bleedthrough (Profound Lore, 2009), with Colin Marston now on second guitar and Nick McMaster on bass. This time the noise and the emphasis tend to outlast their welcome, like the endless agonies of Dimensional Bleedthrough and The Mountain that diligently piles up stereotype after stereotype but only at the very end manages to create real pathos. Inevitably, the lack of inspiration leads them to exaggerate their black-metal credentials, with mixed results: Autochthon can be viewed as both a roaring peak of ferocity or almost as a parody of the genre.
There are, however, moments of great (and grand) poetry. Barr's "waltzing lullaby" kind of distorted guitarwork jumpstarts the 15-minute Aridity before turning into the musical equivalent of carpet-bombing to lead the apocalyptic second half. Intraum is basically just one massive super-dense drone, made of brutal guitar noise and electronic processing, with no drumming. Freed from the constraints of black metal, this becomes the exact opposite of "black": a quasi-religious experience, a long yearning "om" to the skies, modulated to sound like a crying human. And, as impossible as it sounds, Monolith Of Possession manages to sustain its supercharged anxiety for more than 14 minutes before the vocals erupt their calmly desperate lament, which, after so much terror, sounds even melodic.
Barr gambles too much perhaps on the hypnotic quality of his massively repetitive guitar strumming technique, but, when it works, it is worth every second of unspeakable noise and it matches the power of Bach's organ fugues (another case of simplicity used to create immensity).

Krallice continued their mission on Diotima (Profound Lore, 2011) with a more open dynamic approach in songs (real songs) like Inhume and in quasi-progressive theatrical suites like The Clearing that mostly lurches forward at a snail's pace (relatively speaking). Diotima is even better, a combination of the two: a vocals-dominated melodrama that keeps changing tempo and tone, peaking in the middle with a moment of lyrical madness, and ending in a chaotic vortex as the voice mutters something in a martial tone. There is certainly a lot more variety in this album compared with the previous two. The 14-minute Litany of Regrets opens with an industrial metronomy that becomes the primary rhythmic foundation for the lengthy death-dance (actually more similar to headslamming punk-rock). Dust And Light is Barr's canonical agony: dying cry buried under a massive layer of wavering guitar distortion.

Krallice's three-song EP Orphan of Sickness (2011) was devoted to covers of Orphan, whose bassist Brendan Majewski had just committed suicide.

Mick Barr's solo Coiled Malescence (Safety Meeting, 2011) consisted of two merciless atonal orgies.

Mick Barr also released duets with Nandor Nevai: The Rainbow Supremacy (ugEXPLODE, 2009) and Labyrintha (Savage Land, 2010).

Ocrilim also released the mini-album Overvtion R12 (2012), containing the 15-minute Rememinent Observance, and especially the double-disc Annwn 2 (2012), that collects old improvisations of 2007 like the 29-minute Annwn 11 and the 21-minute Annwn 12.

Krallice's Years Past Matter (Gilded Media, 2012) streamlined the compositions quite a bit. The first sounds like an eight-minute medieval war chant. It segues into an equally macabre (eleven-minute) death dance sung in a guttural register but then, at blastbeat peak, screamed in a desperate tone. More terrifying pomp is laid down in the twelve-minute third piece that alternates homicidal frenzy and anxious hesitation fading into funereal or supernatural drones. The fourth piece opens slow and symphonic before launching into the usual onslaught. Again, it is neither brainy nor cryptic: just a torrent of blastbeats and hyperstrums underlying a monster's narrative, ebbing and flowing, a dynamic piece that sets the album's records both for violence and moderation. The 17-minute sixth and final piece bursts out the gates as a monolithic repetitive pulverizing black-metal jam, a grandiose gothic pandemonium of little subtlety but of awe-inspiring and exhausting majesty.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Gianfranco Federico)

Al progetto solista di Barr, Ocrilim, sono stati accreditati due album di chitarra ferocemente inventivi (ma anche follemente auto-indulgenti): Anoint (I & Ear, 2006), un’imponente sinfonia in sette movimenti per chitarre sovraincise, reminescente di Glenn Branca, e Annwn (Hydra Head, 2008), in sette movimenti, ancora per chitarra multi-traccia. Il box-set di tre LP The Purging Trilogy - Sacreth / Ixoltion / Hymns (Rock Is Hell, 2011) raccoglie registrazioni per chitarra e drum-machine. Il mini-album Ment (2008), accreditato sia a Ocrilim sia a Octis, contiene solo due lunghe tracce.


Josh Blair suona anche la batteria nei Supersystem.

Shred Earthship (2006) e ZH/MB Volume 2 (Rock Is Hell, 2007) sono collaborazioni tra Mick Barr e il batterista Zach Hill.

Mick Barr formò la band di black-metal Krallice (con il batterista Lev Weinstein e il bassista Colin Marston) che debuttò con Krallice (Profound Lore, 2008), un album fortemente tecnico. Ognuna delle lunghe piece è un concentrato di tensione e pathos, in gran parte costruiti sul rumore delle chitarre e su percussioni semi-distruttive. Wretched Wisdom esprime pura energia sfrenata nella giustapposizione di fibrillanti chitarre sovrumane e giganti percussioni martellanti, terminando la collisione con un maniaco riff circolare nello stile degli Yes. Cnestorial, una personale interpretazione dei codici del black metal, mette in scena un ululato da lupo mannaro che svetta su una progressione di chitarra intensamente epica, cosicché, mentre l’incessante frenesia infiamma anche i cuori più freddi, le voci acquistano sovratoni epici. Il terrificante momento tipo-supernova di Timehusk, con urla sepolte sotto una valanga di note e ritmi frenetici, spinge sostanzialmente verso l’autodistruzione. Il picco di melodramma è probabilmente Energy Chasms, per musica agonizzante (e talvolta instabile), assoli di chitarra stile-sintetizzatore e voci disperate. Forgiveness In Rot, di 15 minuti, semplicemente libera quelle devastanti, polverizzanti percussioni e chitarre, strimpellate sino al loro limite fisico, e sembra come un esercito di gorilla che picchiano le teste contro gli alberi alla velocità della luce, un intenso, prolungato atto di auto-flagellazione.

Le sessioni, largamente improvvisate, dei Krallice, produssero Dimensional Bleedthrough (Profound Lore, 2009), con Colin Marston ora alla seconda chitarra e Nick McMaster al basso. Questa volta il rumore e l’enfasi tendono a durare troppo, come nelle agonie senza fine di Dimensional Bleedthrough e The Mountain, che ammassano diligentemente stereotipi su stereotipi, ma soltanto alla fine concorrono a creare vero pathos. Inevitabilmente, la carenza di ispirazione li porta ad esagerare le loro credenziali black metal, con risultati misti: Autochthon può essere visto equivalentemente come un ruggente picco di ferocità o quasi come una parodia del genere.

Ad ogni modo, ci sono momenti di grande (e grandiosa) poesia. Il tipico lavoro di chitarra distorta di Barr, in uno stile “ninna-nanna valzer”, avvia i 15 minuti di Aridity, prima di diventare l’equivalente musicale di un bombardamento a tappeto, che conduce alla apocalittica seconda metà del brano. Intraum è sostanzialmente un massivo drone super-denso, fatto di brutali rumori di chitarra e di trattamenti elettronici, senza alcuna percussione. Libera dalle costrizioni del black metal, questa musica diventa l’esatto opposto di “black”: un’esperienza quasi religiosa, un lungo, intenso “om” rivolto ai cieli, modulato per suonare come un pianto umano. E, impossibile a realizzarsi, Monolith Of Possession riesce a sostenere la propria ansia sovralimentata per più di 14 minuti, prima che le parti vocali eruttino con calma il loro disperato lamento, il quale, dopo così tanto terrore, suona persino melodico. Barr gioca forse troppo con la qualità ipnotica della sua tecnica, fatta di strimpellii di chitarra massicciamente ripetitivi, ma, quando funziona, ogni secondo di indicibile rumore assume un certo valore e raggiunge il potere delle fughe per organo di Bach (altro caso di semplicità usata per creare immensità).

I Krallice continuarono la loro missione su Diotima (Profound Lore, 2011), con un approccio dinamico molto più aperto, in canzoni (vere canzoni) come Inhume e in suite teatrali quasi progressive come The Clearing, che caracolla per lo più a passo di lumaca (relativamente parlando). Diotima è persino meglio, una combinazione dei due: un melodramma dominato dalle parti vocali che continua a cambiare tempo e tono, raggiungendo l’apice nella parte centrale con un momento di follia lirica e terminando in un vortice caotico appena la voce mormora qualcosa in tono marziale. Vi è certamente molta più varietà in questo album, se confrontato con i due precedenti. Litany of Regrets, di 14 minuti, si apre con una metronomia industrial, che diventa la base ritmica primaria per una lunga danza di morte (in realtà più simile a un headslamming punk-rock). Dust And Light è la classica agonia a là Barr: un grido da moribondo sepolto sotto uno strato massiccio di fluttuante chitarra distorta.

L’EP di tre brani Orphan of Sickness (2011) era dedicato a delle cover degli Orphan, il cui bassista Brendan Majewski si era appena suicidato.

Il solo di Mick Barr Coiled Malescence (Safety Meeting, 2011) consisteva in due spietate orge atonali.

Mick Barr pubblicò anche duetti con Nandor Nevai: The Rainbow Supremacy (ugEXPLODE, 2009) and Labyrintha (Savage Land, 2010).

Orcrilim rilasciò anche il mini-album Overvtion R12 (2012), contenente Rememinent Observance, di 15 minuti, e soprattutto il disco doppio Annwn 2 (2012), che raccoglie vecchie improvvisazioni del 2007 come Annwn 11, di 29 minuti, e Annwn 12, di 21 minuti.

Years Past Matter (Gilded Media, 2012) dei Krallice snellì un poco le composizioni. La prima, di otto minuti, suona come un cantico di guerra medievale. Sèguita una danza di morte ugualmente macabra, cantata in un registro gutturale ma poi, al picco di blastbeat, urlata in un tono disperato. Una pompa più terrificante viene imposta nel terzo brano, di dodici minuti, che alterna frenesia omicida ed esitazione ansiosa, che svaniscono in droni funerei o sovrannaturali. Il quarto brano si apre sommesso e sinfonico, prima di lanciarsi nel solito assalto furioso. Ancora, non è né cerebrale né criptico: solo un torrente di blastbeats e hyperstrums che sottostanno al racconto di un mostro, rifluente e fluido, un pezzo dinamico che imposta i record dell'album, sia per violenza che per moderazione. Il sesto e ultimo pezzo, di 17 minuti, si impone come una monolitica, ripetitiva e polverizzante jam di black metal, un grandioso pandemonio gotico di scarsa sottigliezza, ma di una maestosità sorprendente ed estenuante.

Kralice moved decisively out of their comfort zone and into technical death-metal with Ygg huur (2015), named after an obscure Giacinto Scelsi composition. Forsaking the epic-length, geometric, droning, shoegazing compositions of the past, this album opts for an intricate, dissonant, insanely exhilarating assault on the sense. The manifesto of this labyrinthine metal is the manically convoluted and hysterical Wastes Of Ocean, as if they had listened to a lot of Henry Kaiser albums. Krallice seems to imitate the theatrics of prog-rock in Over Spirit, a song rescued by its breathtaking finale. The most gothic atmosphere shows up in Tyranny Of Thought, mainly because of the screamed vocals, a song that halfway coalesces in a powerful metal moment. The standout, however, is Bitter Meditation, a superhuman eruption of angst and anger. Throughout the album Lev Weinstein is a force of nature, and here his incendiary, and at time deliberately spastic, drumming becomes a tragic sound in its own. McMaster's growl surfaces only in the closer Engram. Of course, one can argue that Gorguts were doing these things long before Krallice. Incidentally, four of the songs last exactly 6:41.

The EP Hyperion (2016), released on the first day of the year but actually recorded before Ygg huur, sounds like an extension of Years Past Matter (2012) but with more pathos. It's explosive black metal with a soul. The seven-minute Hyperion, one of the emotional peaks of their career, launches in a demonic gallop with punk ferocity and ends with operatic bombast. The ten-minute Assuming Memory is a gothic fantasia that begins slow and solemn, with a melodic undercurrent, but then reaches extreme tension through epileptic drumming and psychotic screams, and then transitions to monster growls only to decay with no vocals into a repetitive, hypnotic pattern and end in a cosmic droning coda. The EP is probably their best release since Dimensional Bleedthrough.

Prelapsarian (2016) contains only four compositions, for a total of only 35 minutes, and one is a short song. Unusual for them, Hate Power is a punk-rock attack with political overtones. Given that Conflagration is a bit too convoluted and confused to be considered an organic piece of music, the bulk of the album are the 12-minute Transformation Chronicles, a dense and granitic mayhem interrupted by a transcendental guitar solo and a short pause before the frenzied finale, and the eleven-minute Lotus Throne, that begins like a cross of the Guns N' Roses, Glenn Branca and the Germs before the growl places it in black-metal territory, all along massacred by acrobatic nuclear drumming. A little less cryptic and anarchic than Ygg huur, Prelapsarian succeeds in creating structure out of chaos and succeeds as well in creating a link between Krallice's original sound and their new technical style.

Loum (2017) was a mediocre collaboration with Neurosis' bassist and vocalist Dave Edwardson, ruined by substandard singing, substandard production (Martson himself), and substandard synthesizer. The eight-minute Loum is the notable exception (this should have been just a single).

Go Be Forgotten (2017) is easily their worst album yet. In fact, it sounds like a hodgepodge of compositions in different veins, from the fairly conventional black metal of the eight-minute This Forest For Which We Have Killed (ostensibly a Beastlor song) to the seven-minute ambient interlude for guitar, synthesizer and artificial choir Quadripartite Mirror Realm via the ten-minute prog-rock fantasy Ground Prayer, all pomp and time shifts. The eleven-minute Go Be Forgotten feels like a compromise among all these concentric forces: a quest for grandiloquence and atmosphere that continues the progression (or regression) from Ygg huur to Prelapsarian towards a more structured form of technical metal after taming the torrential drumming (and, alas, ruined by the rather tedious last five minutes).

The EP Wolf (2019) contains five short pieces that sound like sketches, not fully formed compositions.

Barr and Marston teamed up with drummer Weasel Walter (The Flying Luttenbachers) and vocalist/guitarist Paulo Paguntalan (Copremesis) to create another death-metal aberration: Encenathrakh. Their debut album Encenathrakh (2015) is as deranged as anything ever done in/to the genre. Evviceate sets the tone with abominable animal shrieks, visceral and torrential guitar distortion and, above all, Weasel Walter's insane post-jazz, post-everything drumming. Atenggor is disfigured by gusts of tortured guitar and suffocated under a rainstorm of drumming. There are brief hysterical songs like Akerth and Gethrage, but the quartet truly shines in the absolute chaos of longer songs like Thraate. When you think it can't get crazier than this, they deliver the supersonic mayhem of Ngthra. Ngeveal boasts the most homicidal discharge of drumming. As the instruments relent just a little in songs like Akeathate one can finally sense the desperation in the "voice" (or, better, vomited vocal noise) of the singer. A music of spasms. The sound of extreme, total, superhuman pain. This quartet is a force of nature, and not a pretty one. "Brutal" doesn't even come close.

Krallice's side-projects were many.

Lev Weinstein was the drummer of Fischel's Beast, that released Commencement (2009). M.N.D.L.S.B.L.S.T.N.G. was the duo of Mick Barr and drummer Nondor Nevai, documented on Infinitum A.D.D. Nauseum (2012), and Mossenek was the duo with electronic musician Chuck Bettis, documented on Sublingual Glossectum (2012). Dripping Ancience (2013) documents a live collaboration by Barr with percussionist Mike Pride on which Barr played the "tar", is a traditional string instrument from Azerbaijan. Mick Barr released solo album under the moniker Or:12r3, namely Groundrest (2011), 12;4;3;11;9;49.1 (2015), 12;4;3;11;9;49.2 (2015) and 12;4;3;11;9;49.3 (2015). Barr resurrected Octis for the double-disc Uppragn Srilimia Ixioor Ocrilim Nollfithes Mrithixy (2013). Mick Barr's solo project Beastlor was documented on three albums of old material released in 2015. Colin Marston released solo music under the moniker Indricothere, notably the EP Indricothere (2008) and the albums Indricothere II (2013) and Indricothere III (2016). Colin Marston also played in Behold The Arctopus, in the trio Containor, documented on Asshole (2018), and in Kevin Hufnagel's Dysrhythmia. Marston and Hufnagel were also the duo Byla, that released Byla (2005) and accompanied Jarboe on Viscera (2007).

Barr and Marston formed Hathenter which, after the five-song EP 10000 (2017), added guitarists Eliane Gazzard, Brandon Seabrook and Kevin Hufnagel, vocalist Yoshiko Ohara and bassist Christian Schiller for the 40-minute piece of Ouija (2017) and the four lengthy pieces of Wr w-r wwr0wr-g 0w -er0gw- -0wr w (2020).

Oldest's Bacterial Insight (2017) documents a pre-Krallice project with Mick Barr on guitar, bass and vocals and Brooks Headley on drums.

McMaster and Weinstein played in Astomatous that released The Beauty Of Reason (2006) and the EP Astomatous (2018). McMaster and Weinstein formed Sallah, documented on Fortune and Glory (2014). McMaster and Weinstein formed Geryon that released the albums Geryon (2013) and The Wound and the Bow (2016). God's Bastard was the duo of Lev Weinstein and Drew Hays of Floods, documented on the EP Last Standing Village (2019).

Weinstein played in Pyrolatrous. McMaster played bass in Solecism. Marston played in White Moth, Sailors With Wax Wings and Rich Balling's Pyramids.

Mick Barr joined Jon Irabagon and Mike Pride on the 47-minute piece of I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues Vol 2 (2020), a successor to the 48-minute piece of I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues (2009).

Encenathrakh returned with Thraakethraaeate Thraithraake (2020), but it was a disappointment: the vocals are up front, the guitars are hit and miss, the production is sleek, mechanical blastbeats have replaced Walter's creative hyper-drumming, there are frequent pauses and even the semblance of melodies. We can actually appreciate the vocal effects in Akeicthakc Attkethence, which is also one of the most acrobatic songs. There are theatrical moments in Thraakethraaeate Thraithraake that detract from the overall feral energy. Gethevvakeceate Hrageth drops in some funky electronic effects, which are intriguing but feel unfinished. There is also a general sense of repetition.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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