Thursday, June 20, 2024

Psych Act Kurokuma to Return… Forever?

Vicious psych trio Kurokuma brought a fresh heaviness to the extreme music scene in 2022 with their debut album, Born Of Obsidian. In August the genre-mashing threesome will return with their new record, Of Amber and Sand, and ahead of that comes new single, ‘I Am Forever’ out now digitally.

Commenting on ‘I Am Forever’, drummer Joe Allen said, “This track is a mantra on meditation that opens up this concept album on time. We challenged ourselves to write something that worked even with repeated lyrical phrases, so it truly felt like a mantra. Jake had been listening to a lot of Nailbomb and Korn for the riffs, and then our mate, Babak stepped up with a blazing baglama solo. It starts off the album with a bang.”

Featuring Allen, alongside Jacob Mazlum (Guitar/vocals) and Zakk Wells (Bass/vocals), the band’s Sanford Parker-recorded debut, Born of Obsidian, dug deep into the ancient history of Mesoamerican civilisations, and lofty expectations continue with Of Amber and Sand – The album is based on the colossal concept of time, each track dealing with a different facet of temporality and eternity, probing its significance to creation, civilisation and the human experience. 

Musically, the band have drawn influence from the instruments, melodies and rhythms of the Middle East/Balkans on this release, as Mazlum explained: “In terms of my own relationship with the new musical elements, it’s complicated. I’m an orthodox Christian from the Muslim world, an immigrant to the UK, and a more recent immigrant to the Balkans, where, ironically, I feel like I fit in culturally more than anywhere else. Much of my family is ethnically Armenian but now resides in Turkey, where I spent the first few years of my life there. 

“My relationship with these ethnic musical styles is a mix of appreciation for what they are, a familiarity due to their imposition in my life in various ways, and a very conscious detachment from the cultures, places and values that – like all art – deeply informs them.“ 

The geographical influences, as well as the subject of time are combined and reflected in the album title; Of Amber and Sand being a metaphor the band came up with, that was fleshed out and visualised in the artwork by Sheffield illustrator, Mila K. Here sand and its abundance represents infinite time, while amber represents one moment – amber is known for capturing insects and preserving them. Allen explained: 

“The mantis trapped in amber on the cover, it’s been there potentially millions of years, preserved and unmoving while civilisations have come and gone. Species have been born into being, evolved and become extinct – yet this mantis is frozen in that one pose. A snapshot relic of the past to be admired throughout history. This motif sums up a lot of what the album is about.”

Of Amber and Sand is a much more metal and muscular album in comparison to their debut – one that feels faster and more urgent, taking nods from a variety of artists ranging from Nailbomb, Morbid Angel and System Of A Down to Omar Souleyman, Barış Manço and the genre of dabke.  

“We made a conscious effort to get a real sound on this recording,” Allen noted. “We wanted to avoid any over-production and use of triggers and samples where possible. Saying that, we do think the sound is a big step up from Born Of Obsidian.” 

Originally active from 2014, the band have been based in the UK up until now, but 2024 sees them very much operating internationally, with only bassist Wells still residing in the UK. While Mazlum relocated to Bulgaria, Allen is living as a digital nomad, currently in Albania. He noted that Kurokuma is still very much a band but that “This lifestyle choice was driven in part by wanting to avoid burning out on doing the same things over and over as a UK-based band, and as a promoter. I wanted to get away and see some more of the world, but making this album happen has proven we can still function as Kurokuma while all in different places.”

After the release of Born of Obsidian in 2022, Kurokuma went on to perform at Desertfest London, Brutal Assault in the Czech Republic and Damnation Festival, as well as touring Central Europe. Recorded at Stuck On A Name in Nottingham with Boulty, Of Amber and Sand will be self-released by the band on 9th August and available on CD, vinyl and digitally. It can be ordered here.

‘I Am Forever’ is available here and you can check out the video to it here at RAMzine.

Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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