Sheffield sludge merchants, Kurokuma, have been around since 2013. Having already made an impact on the underground scene with a string of EPs and split records, they’re now ready to unleash their debut magnum opus.
What separates Kurokuma from other sludge bands is their ability to combine tribal and Latin rhythms with psychedelic soundscapes and heavy riffs without compromising either genre. Opener ‘Smoking Mirror’ starts with an almost funky bass line and hypnotic drumming before they smother you in a blanket of doom ladened riffs. You might even detect the aggressive agitation of Sepultura’s ‘Refuse/Resist’ among the heavy distortion. There’s a lot going on here under the deafening levels of noise. Listen how the lead guitar lines pulsate like early Electric Wizard while the monstrous rhythm guitar tones throb in the vein of Conan.
Current single, ‘Sacrifice to Huitzilopochtli’, is a bit of a departure from the usual Kurokuma formula, clocking in at just over four and a half minutes, which is a contrast to the rest of the album where the tracks are all over eight minutes. Slayer and Obituary fans will enjoy the circular groove riffs on offer here. By contrast, ‘Jaguar’ opens with Latin-style drums and deep bass incursions and reverberates with a clean ethereal guitar tone. It creates a serene psychedelic feel before the chugging chords and harsh vocals get into gear. Kurokuma know how to combine an abundance of ideas into a cohesive package. It never feels like they’re throwing too many ideas into the mix for the sake of it.
Take ‘Ololiuqui’ as an example. This starts with sparkling percussion and crunchy guitar riffs that evolve into a ubiquitous wall of sound and thick sludgy chords. These foundations work wonders intertwined with clean guitar melodies and harsh vocals. Again, the intensity of Conan and Conjurer combine well with the mid-90s Sepultura attack. Final track, ‘Under the Fifth Sun’, is the longest composition, clocking in at nearly nine minutes. Here, the bassline drives the track with the drums dancing around it. Melodic and harsh guitar alternations keep the danger of monotony at bay. The fuzzed-out chords and muscular roars at the end will give you that aura of invincibility you need in your life.
Born Of Obsidian is a well-crafted album, and the band clearly spent a lot of time working on it. Make no mistake: this LP deserves your undivided attention. Fans of progressive sludge and doom metal will love it. Those with old school tastes will need to invest more time in the eclectic nature of this record, but the rewards will be even richer if they persist.
Release Date: 04/02/2022
Record Label: Self Released
Standout tracks: Sacrifice to Huitzilopochtli, Ololiuqui, Smoking Mirror
Suggested Further Listening: Everest Queen – Dead Eden (2019), Conan – Revengeance (2016), Conjurer – Mire (2018)