Kurokuma – ‘Sheffield’s Best Metal Bands Vol.1’

By Liam Knowles

This is a strange little release, to say the least. From the overly confident, compilation-like title, to the extremely varied musical content within, Sheffield psych-sludge trio Kurokuma seem to have one main aim; to confuse, bewilder, and overwhelm the listener.

‘RVN’ opens things up with a hypnotic, churning bassline that loops while layers of drums and sludgy guitars gradually build around it, eventually leading to ferocious call-and-response vocals and the bass pattern from earlier turning into a crushing full band riff. Then there’s ‘Wasp Nest’, an entirely instrumental number with growling, gut-wrenching bass droning throughout while the guitar offers sparse blasts of noise and feedback. So far, so good.

What comes next, however, is likely to be the main talking point of this release, whether Kurokuma like it or not. Who honestly would have thought that an eleven minute sludge-metal cover of ‘Deeper Underground’ would be something that we needed, but it absolutely is. Yes, the one from the terrible Godzilla movie from the 90s. The band spend a painstaking three minutes or so layering up the intro that’s less than 30 seconds long on the Jamiroquai original, but that just makes it even more satisfying when they crash in with that unmistakeable riff. You’d be forgiven for thinking this should sound completely stupid, but it really doesn’t; even if you didn’t know the original there’s still enough interesting stuff going on, both with the bellowing vocals and the devastating instrumentals, to justify the eleven minute length.

The only real criticism of ‘Sheffield’s Best Metal Bands Vol.1’ is that after that monolithic, sprawling cover, and the two hefty tracks that preceded it, the brief, bass heavy electro track ‘Wasp Nest (Memphis Edit)’ feels a bit tagged on the end and frankly a bit insubstantial. Then again, if Kurokuma’s intent is to throw curveballs at the listener, then this works perfectly well as one last sideswipe. This release isn’t going to be for everyone, but it’s an essential listen for people who like their music challenging, subversive, and served with a healthy side of smirking self-awareness.

LIAM KNOWLES

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