Review / Kurokuma — Born of Obsidian

Much like Dope Rider and Dilly, Kurokuma have been traversing the UK sonic landscape with a grim psychedelic aura. Furthermore, It should come as no surprise that the Sheffield doom outfit even has an EP paying homage to artist Paul Kirchner’s work. Additionally, Kurokuma’s outputs are akin to Kirchner’s beloved stoner skeleton from High Times; Succinct, sweet, and surreal. Their discography has consisted of EPs, singles, and splits in roughly eight years of existence. Born of Obsidian might be Kurokuma’s first full-length offering, but it is imbued with the doom and gloom of a veteran traveler of the void. 

The tone of the album stews in a cauldron of ancient North and South American ethnographic elements. Some of these include, but are not limited to: human sacrifices, the consumption of drugs, and divine entities. A few of these are blatantly obvious as evidenced by the tracks ‘Sacrifice to Huitzilopochtli’ and ‘Ololiuqui’. Much like the hallucinogenic properties of the ololiuqui plant, Kurokuma’s grinding bass and guitar lines tear through the mind while the searing vocals turn one’s third eye inside out. Fittingly, the most mesmerizing track on the album is ‘Ololiuqui’. A simple seed/nut shaker starts off the track in a repetitive shamanistic manner, perfectly setting the mood in homage to the ancient Mexican practice of using ololiuqui seeds for psychedelic trance/divination. The trip ebbs and flows like a lava lamp inside the mind and layers on levels portentous ensemble work that reaches a peak when the vocals erupt forth like magma bubbling out of the ground. However, that isn’t the end of the sonic journey, as the ending takes what little is left of conscious reality and smashes it into a punishing and intoxicating moment of hallucinatory catharsis.

What Kurokuma has done with their first full-length release shows a deep sense of care and compassion for not only musicianship, but also carefully crafted attention to cultural details in the album. From the opening of ‘Smoking Mirror’ to the last moments of ‘Under the Fifth Sun’ Born of Obsidian is a masterclass in psychedelic sludge and doom from Sheffield’s finest. 

Born of Obsidian is released independently this Friday and can be ordered here.

Words: Garrett A. Tanner

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