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  • Review by Faye Coulman

REVIEWED: Krakow's 'Minus'

Ushering in the autumnal chill that marks this bittersweet time of year, Krakow’s latest album, ‘Minus’ evokes the twilight-tinged melancholy that settles before the harsher realities of Winter take hold. As to be expected from these Nordic master craftsmen, their new opus is experimental, beautiful and raw, its deep subtleties to be slowly savoured like a vintage, blood-red wine as the evenings darken and draw close.

Formed in 2005, Krakow have amassed a small but loyal following despite long defying definition. These intriguing specimens can’t be pinned down; as though they prised open a Pandora’s box of subversive styles and unleashed an eclectic mix of genres – stoner doom, post-apocalyptic rock, progressive metal. This Scandinavian smorgasbord shouldn’t work but it does, with sludgy doom-laden riffs interspersed with twangy, string-plucking rock, giving way to palette-cleansing vocals that range from the dulcet and virgin-pure to bleak, raging cries against the desolate night.

Krakow’s most recent offering glories in this confusion as well as encapsulating the wistful majesty of the season; like leaves that smother the senses with their kaleidoscopic hues as they wither on the branches. ‘Minus’ builds a sense of ethereal, gathering gloom punctuated by strange, striking moments of taut drama that grip like early frosts. The bleak opening number, ‘Black Wandering Sun’, has the feel of apocalyptic, ancient gods striding across the stark landscapes of the North, while the instrumental title track gradually builds an atmosphere of blackening dread until the strung-out tension is almost unbearable, before sweeping down like a bird of prey in a crash of symbols. ‘Sirens’ picks up the pace with some rabble-rousing rock and ‘The Stranger’ surprises with a ripping solo.

The final, dream-like ‘Tidlaus’ is touched with a sense of sadness and endings, the rippling melodies softly studded with plaintive, almost despairing chords like a scattering of stars in a lonely sky. This skilful swansong undulates gently along before concluding the album in rhythmic, uneasy drumming and tribal-like chants shouted into the void, perhaps the last desperate gasps of a dying world.

'Minus' is out now on Karisma

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