First off, Krakow are not from Kraków. They are from Bergen, Norway and are on one of favorite labels, Karisma. Their sound is a combo of Neurosis infused post metal, the adventurous nature of Motorpsycho and more hook laden prog metal like Mastodon. I will admit that their new album “minus” was not one that came easily to me. The first few times through it, I just wasn’t feeling it at all. But because they are on Karisma, I kept trying out of my own respect for that label.
Sometimes it’s those difficult albums that last with you longer. I can say that I do “get” this album more and more. Part of this is because the songs don’t always go in the direction your ears and mind might be expecting. You’ll hear two chords and assume the next one will be a certain chord and it isn’t. Or that a solo with sound a certain way over the chords beneath it. It’s not that simple, yet Krakow fool you in thinking it SHOULD be that simple.
The album gets really interesting with the track “the stranger” which is loud, atmospheric and yet really unsettling at the same time. When I mentioned having a strange guitar solo, this track has one of those uneasy solos. Yet there’s a more “traditional” solo on the opening track “black wandering sun,” courtesy of Phil Campbell of Motörhead!
“from fire, from stone” is the perfect hybrid of Neurosis plodding and Mastodon melody lines. There’s this guitar line that sounds like it actually is Mastodon and only happens ONCE in the damn song. Because you will NOT get comfortable when listening to Krakow. It’s a VERY cool song once you allow it to do what IT wants versus what you might be expecting.
The title track starts off with a cool drum part and the music builds up slowly…and just adds some layers as it moves along. It punches you in the face before going back down a notch. It’s an instrumental that shows the band’s sonic dynamics. “tidlaus” actually goes quite a while as an instrumental before the vocals start in. Once again, it’s not what you expect.
Overall, “minus” is an interesting and challenging album. Most people assume that to be complex you need a lot of notes and time signatures. Krakow prove that complexity is more about the path chosen and the layers that are used. This might be your favorite album or it just might be off putting. I’ll leave that to you all.
1. black wandering sun
3. the stranger
4. from fire, from stone
Label: Karisma Records