Click here to return to the main site.

Music Review

Cover Image

Born of Obsidian


Artist: Kurokuma
Label: Kurokuma
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 04 February 2022

Sheffield-based Psychedelic Sludge/Extreme Metal trio Kurokuma self-release their debut album Born of Obsidian. The band was formed in late 2013 by guitarist/vocalist Jacob Mazlum and drummer Joe Allen. George Ionita was then brought in to replace the original bassist and so complete the combo. After a year of crafting their sound – described as primitive brutality and mind-bending Psychedelia – they released a self-titled demo, followed in 2016 by a first EP, Advorsus on Medusa Crush Records. In 2017 they starred in the indie documentary film The Doom Doc, and in 2018 the Dope Rider concept EP was released. Kurokuma showed their mix of heavy sounds (Latin, Kraut Rock & Electronica) with the EP Sheffield’s Best Metal Bands Vol 1 in 2019. Their tour itinerary has included the UK (including the Bloodstock Festival), Japan, Iceland and eight Eastern European countries (including the Brutal Assault festival in the Czech Republic). Born of Obsidian explores the ancient history of Mesoamerican civilisations, including Aztec rituals and sacrifices, and the earlier Olmec culture. It is released on a choice of coloured vinyl records, on tape, CD and for download...

There are five mega-tracks here. We begin with 'Smoking Mirror', a bass and drums intro to a heavy, low and Grunge-dripping riff. The vocals are high growls (in other words, screamed). The drums dictate the pace periodically, and an alternative guitar melody takes over briefly before returning to the original, more moderate-paced Doom/Black Metal mix. In fact, the riff is the foundation for almost everything that happens in this opening track. It invites the screamed vocals to have their own melody and inflection. There is a nice wah-wah effect-driven guitar solo which is higher so than when the riff returns it sounds even more down and dirty. A repeat sequence to see-out the song is overly long, but I do like the way it becomes distanced and vague before just dying. 'Sacrifice to Huitzilopochtli' has a galloping opening in complete contrast to what has gone before. This one is even more evidence of powerful music being melodically carried by the guitar and clipped vocals, whilst the drums and bass form the reassuring backing wall. This one has much more get-up-and-go and would sound great in the car I’m sure. Touches of squeaky psychedelia is squeezed-in too. A very enjoyable experience for all lovers of the darker side of Metal.

'Jaguar' is the lead single, and references the Olmec shamans who, it was believed, could transform into a jaguar (no, not the car!). This has a nice tribal beat with quiet background guitar which lulls us into a false sense of security for when the full band sound blasts into the fore, with the vocals lower and ejected forward like venom. Having said that, throughout this has a nice groove which is experimental and inventive. Distorted guitar turns the piece psychedelic whilst the heaviness of the backing grounds it in a genre-spanning blend of trippy styles. I like this one too. It’s probably the track for which the promotional blurb invokes Sepultura; believe me though when I say that I could never really connect with Sepultura and much prefer this version of the tribal sound. 'Ololiuqui' has shaken totems invite the rumbling and buzzing low guitar. Another tribal feel which gets you used to the format before widening the sound and introducing changes, including and electro-acoustic twang and a bass guitar rattle. The screamed vocals are slower and more controlled in this nice moderate piece. The bass introduces a change with drums and percussion and a brief return to a galloping beat, topped-off with very spacey guitar which wouldn’t be out of place in a late 1960s psychedelic venue such as the UFO Club. It ends abruptly.

We round things off with 'Under the Fifth Sun', wherein a clattering beat sets the groundwork for slowly building separate left/right guitar speaker sounds. This one has the feel of a Psychedelic Rock journey, but a comforting one at that. The pointed drum patterns are prominent before the bass guitar takes centre stage for a while, just before the reverberating Electronica takes over. This then shrinks back to allow a low-as a-snake’s-belly guitar riffing, brief vocals and spacey guitar to add their touches before departing on mild feedback.

I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by this album, which is very impressive for a debut outing. The stand-out offerings are 'Sacrifice to Huitzilopochtli' and 'Jaguar', but they all have their place because this is a heavy but warm vibe that pushes at the boundaries. I’m interested to know where this band can go with the so-called difficult second album.


Ty Power

Buy this item online

Digital album