KRYSTHLA
Worldwide Negative [PHD]

Formed in 2013 Wellingborough’s Krysthla have been carving out their own niche in the realm of extreme metal. Their first album A War of Souls dropped in 2015 and was followed in 2017 by the critically acclaimed Peace in Our Time. Their third full length Worldwide Negative comes hot on the heels of a triumphant main stage appearance at this years Bloodstock Open Air festival, and this record is the sound of a band confidently reaching maturity and standing on the verge of world domination.

By way of an introduction opening salvo ‘Negative’ is the perfect calling card. Beginning with a brief, cascading guitar motif that gently reels in the listener, it creates a moment of serenity that means when Krysthla arrive as a band they hit with the force of a hurricane: a blast beat that’s overlaid with a tortured scream breaks the still, and heralds a musical maelstrom. The guitar motif recurs throughout as Liam Turland’s powerhouse drumming dictates the pace and gives proceedings a groove metal feel as the group constantly shift gears and effortlessly switch tempos. The incendury ‘Negative’ would make a great set opener for Krysthla’s live show, and it seems destined to ignite mosh pits wherever they play. Next track ‘Reawaken’ is bookended between two punishing riffs, and the mid section evidences an intelligent use of light and shade as clean vocals juxtapose the more guttural – while the intricate guitar lines highlight the hammer blow riffs.

‘Grief is New Love’ has a real industrial, surgical feel, kinda like Fear Factory on amphetamine, the drums fire like pistons while the guitars capture the cold, brittle atmospherics of black metal. Next cut, and lead single, ‘Zero Sum Game’ continues in a similar vein, relentless without being repetitious. Krysthla have a modus operandi similar to Killing Joke, but whereas the Joke use the same riff as a battering ram Krysthla have more in their arsenal and attack your senses from different angles. Guitarist Neil Hudson also produced Worldwide Negative and his wizardry unobtrusively brings different instrumentation to the fore at various junctures, and subtly repositions the listeners perspective. Despite the band drawing on different strands of extreme metal this album has a unified feel. That’s partly due to the production, but primarily it’s the introspective lyrics that deal with alienation and the impact of our actions on ourselves and the planet. Linking all the songs thematically gives Worldwide Negative the feel of a concept album, and ensures it hangs together as a cohesive whole.

‘White Castles’ is like facing an artillery barrage as vocalist Adi Mayes tackles his lyrics with hardcore fury and sings with indignation. However the band aren’t all about pure bludgeon, as some nice guitar work provides brief respite; the band lulling us into a false sense of security before we’re attacked sonically once more. On ‘Psalm of Heartlessness’ the band have created a song that simply sounds huge and towers over the listener – threatening with a monolithic enormity. Penultimate track ‘Aurea Mediocritas’ swirls in a musical tempest with sinister guitar flourishes that suggests we’ve arrived at a dystopian future. Befitting of an album closer ‘The Gift’ is truly epic and neatly pulls all the bands influences together. It begins by thrashing like Metallica’s ‘Battery’, before undergoing a transmogrification and then sinking like Immortal’s ‘Beyond the North Waves’ which ensures the album ends of a rather ominous tone.

Artists often speak of the ‘difficult third album’ but obviously Krysthla haven’t had that problem. By refining their sound and playing to their strengths they’ve produced an album in Worldwide Negative that could propel them into metals top tier.

Peter Dennis

Worldwide Negative is out on Friday. Pre-order here

Feature Photo credit: Amplified Gig Photography