Krakow: Amaran

Three albums in, the Norwegian post-metallers find themselves.

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Kraków can be added to the already long list of bands named after a place they’re neither from nor have ever set foot in.

Yet that choice is symbolic here: the evocation of Poland’s second biggest city and its mining heritage fits their very urban vibe, far more so than their green hometown of Bergen, Norway. They were formed by musicians with links to the local glorious black metal scene, and their first two albums were well-rounded yet pedestrian exercises; Neurosis-by-the-book. Amaran sees them step out of the shadow of other post-metal giants and into bleak yet more subtle musical territories. Their palette has evolved from stark black and white to multiple shades of grey and, failed drone experiment Of Earth aside, these seven tracks feel more natural and less self-conscious. Their newly acquired taste for quirky melodies is embodied by Genesis, a song that proves they’re capable of tackling three-minute post-punk nuggets with aplomb. Yet it’s when they switch into epic mode that Kraków come into their own: they really manage to somehow retain an intimacy with the listener here. Underneath those pounding guitars their fragile humanity shines through all the clearer.