Black Kirin – National Trauma


junkheadv1tmbBlack Kirin – National Trauma

It takes a lot to weird me out. I’ll listen to hours of throat singing, musique concrete, harsh noise, whatever, and I won’t bat an eye. If anything, radio music is what makes me feel uncomfortable. What’s truly grotesque is the notion that mainstream music has a cosmic appeal and objective acceptance. Godspeed to anything that lashes out against the norm, at least I can relate to being anti-everything.

Even so, Black Kirin is pretty strange. Their first full length has a truly unique sound that sounds simultaneously familiar and foreign.

On the most base level, National Trauma is melodic death a la Carcass’s Swansong, a style that’s as palatable as extreme metal can get. The vocals are mostly high shriek, the guitars play tuneful and dexterous evil riffs. You’ve heard it a million times before, and there’s little imagination left in the style.

Normally I’d give it a D- and dismiss it as derivative, but the very dominant folk elements are impossible to ignore. Rather than hopelessly boring renaissance fair acoustic masturbation, Black Kirin is into traditional Chinese folk flourishes. For the western listener, it will initially sound very corny and cliché. Your great grandfather would probably say it sounds oriental. You’ll either love it or vomit all over. The first track bears all: if the dizu flutes and erhu guitars don’t turn you off, the strange woman screeching like a cat in heat will.

But both style’s are well integrated. If you took out the metal, the folk would play on and vice versa. After awhile, the flutes, plucked guitars, and pentatonic pianos end up being essential to the formula, and you almost wish the Carcass singer would go away so the scary cat lady could whine and croon you to the metal heavens. Easily my record of the year so far.