Posts Tagged ‘Kurokuma’

4th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s fitting that a doom / sludge metal act should take their time over things – and Sheffield trio Kurokuma have really taken their time over things in order to deliver their debut album. Having formed late 2013, they’re one band whose progress can’t have been said to have been hampered by the pandemic: instead, they’ve been evolving their sound over the course of a number of single and EP releases, notably the Advorsus EP in 2016 and 2018’s ‘Dope Rider’ single. This means that the arrival of Born of Obsidian feels like an event, a monumental summit in the band’s career. And if five tracks, in the face of it, does‘t look like much by way of a definitive statement that represents the apogee of some eight years of work, the fact that all bar one are over eight minutes long and each one packs the density of a black hole gives some necessary context.

‘Smoking Mirror’ lands things perfectly; there’s a definite groove, even a hint of funk – not in the Chili Peppers’ funk metal sense, but in a twisted, fucked-up psychedelic sense – to the bassline that bounces along before the crushing power chords crash in. The vocals snarl and scraw and everything comes together to deliver optimum weight. It may be a cliché to sat it needs to be played loud, and playing any metal not loud is a mistake, but having been recorded in London with Sanford Parker (YOB, Eyehategod, Indian), volume really increases the appreciation of the quality production. There’s not only great separation between the instruments, but each brings something more to the overall mix. On ‘Smoking Mirror’, your attention is likely to be on the churning guitar, but the drums are outstanding in the way they kick through the dense, treacle-like distortion.

They promise an album that’s ‘equal parts primitive brutality and mind-bending psychedelia’, and it’s all there in the pulverising repetitions of ‘Sacrifice to Huitzilopochtli’. For its brevity, it packs in a neatly-constructed structure, with intro, verses, chorus, mid-section – which brings an explosive change of tempo – and megalithic, gut-churning riffing that rages hard and heavy. It demonstrates that there’s a lot going on with these guys, and that they’re not just lug-headed chord-thudders, but possess a level of musical articulateness that separates them from many of their peers.

Single cut ‘Jaguar’ is, it turns out, entirely representative, a roaring beast of a tune that has a rare swing to it – and a lot of cowbell. It warps and lurches with remarkable dexterity for something of such colossal weight. The repetitive riffery of ‘Ololiuqui’ batters and bludgeons relentlessly, maintaining its form and instead varying the tone and depth of the distortion, and stepping up the volume incrementally, before the nine minute ‘Under the Fifth Sun’ delivers a decimating conclusion.

With bulldozing, unyielding mass and density, Born of Obsidian is high-impact: Kurokuma have mastered the power of hard volume and brutal force – as is in keeping with the genre. But where Kurokuma stand apart – and above – is in the detail, the nuance, the deviation from the blueprint, which shows a unique flair, and surely Born of Obsidian is destined for cult status.

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More cowbell!

Equal parts primitive brutality and mind-bending psychedelia, Kurokuma will bring a fresh dose of exotic heaviness to the extreme music scene in 2022 with their debut album Born of Obsidian, set for release on 4th February.

Recorded in London with Sanford Parker (YOB, Eyehategod, Indian) at Narcissus Studio, the Sheffield-based psychedelic sludge trio have been sharpening their mantra-like songwriting since forming in late 2013, finally culminating in a debut album that melds their expansive ideas and abrasive influences together perfectly. The band comment,

"After years of silent gestation, our first full length will finally emerge into the blinding light of corporeal existence. The five songs that make up this album stand both unified and distinct, creating an edifice that transcends the moment and speaks to the raw nature of the universe. So turn your back on the madness; seek this column of unseen truth and elevate yourself from the primordial chaos in which you dwell."

Always ones to avoid the traditional tropes of the doom and sludge metal scene, Kurokuma have often embraced different elements into their ‘heavy’ sound. This includes the worlds of Latin rhythm, kraut-rock and electronica, most recently evident in 2019 when they became the first artist to put out a metal release on legendary underground electronic music label, Off Me Nut with an EP titled, ‘‘Sheffield’s Best Metal Bands Vol.1’.

Born of Obsidian traverses various subgenres of metal while maintaining a unified atmosphere all of its own. Thematically it digs deep into the ancient history of major Mesoamerican civilisations; concepts range from Aztec deities, such as Tezcatlipoca and human sacrifice to the god of sun, Huitzilopochtli, to priests’ use of seeds and mushrooms in divine religious ceremonies. Tracks like lead single ‘Jaguar’ also reference the Olmec culture, which preceded the Aztecs, with the band adding,

"This one was written as more of an incantation than a standard song. The jaguar was the most powerful creature for the Olmecs. There were Olmec shamans who, it was believed, could transform into a jaguar, and this piece is meant to provide the soundtrack for such a ceremony.”

Listen to ‘Jaguar’ now :

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