Review: Krvvla – X
I don’t know how this band’s name is pronounced. Kruula, like “crueler,” sort of? Curve-vla, a femme-centered Slavic gym chain? Does it matter? Whatever the pronunciation, Minsk, Belarus’s Krvvla has evolved into a fearsome black metal beast on their latest offering, X. While the 4-piece has put in yeoman’s work releasing instrumental black metal over three EPs and several more singles, the addition of vocals to X is the keystone that makes this sound hold together.
X is absolutely unrelenting. It’s sub-EP in duration, but feels very much like a full-length by virtue of its intensity. Over 27 harrowing minutes, the band unchains wave after wave of Belarusian fury within bookends of unsettling ambience. Songs like “XIII” build up for maximum suspense, using short, cleverly deployed bridge sections to connect abrasive hunks of black metal.
All of Krvvla’s instrumental work that came before feels like a buildup to X. I can’t overstate how little time is wasted here. Other bands might have released this monster as a single track; certainly early-2010s acts like Fell Voices would’ve released this immediately post-recording for a fun little EP. Instead of opting for expedience, however, it’s clear Krvvla has taken their time getting things right. This is more Woe than Ash Borer in its immediacy. The songs transition into one another without breaks, giving the onslaught intense momentum.
Of course, some credit goes to magician Colin M[‘ ~Roldy]arston for mastering this record. While tracks like “XIV” function nicely as transitions to the record’s arguably strongest tracks such as “XV,” they also maintain enough dynamic intensity and clarity of production to stand on their own. Throughout the record, A.D.‘s impeccable drumming is supported by beefy, popping bass lines. For clink-clank aficionados, the drums might be a highlight, but the varied vocal approach, snappy bass, and cascades of dissonant riffage keep everything nicely balanced, with even weight distributed among the band’s 4 members. Sparse ambience within the tracks, like the maniacal laughter that brackets “XV,” adds to the immediacy and terror.
All in all, it’s a great feeling when that first album comes along in a new year that makes you say “fuck yeah.” Krvvla’s X is that first album of 2022 for me. It’s tight, compelling, perfectly produced, and balanced enough between careful buildup and vicious attack to keep you on the edge of your seat. I’m curious to learn more about this band—having progressed from EPs like Ø to this monstrous full-length for Brucia in less than four years while living in, um, a difficult environment, I’m hoping this is far from the last we’ve heard of Krvvla.
4.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
X comes out tomorrow, February 4, on Bandcamp and CD via Brucia Records.