Naniwakko trio Birushanah released 灰ニナルマデ (Hai ni narumade) on October 3. The Japanese group has been around since 2002 under the moniker 毘盧釈那 (Birushana), and this latest opus is their fourth full-length release. The style of the band is sludge metal that includes a lot of elements from Japanese musical culture and pitched percussions.
This mix certainly makes them stand out musically. From the first minutes on 灰ニナルマデ, the pitched percussions come in and battle with the guitarist and singer for centre stage with their counter-intuitive melodies and unfamiliar harmonics. I’ve written about harmonics in the past, and how they can influence the perceived pitch of a note. Thus, the percussive melodies here sound truly odd and mesmerizing, at least for a Westerner like me, musically speaking.
Birushanah puts forward a theatrical lyrical style, which can be daunting for some, but which has its very own appeal, and further supports the integration of Japanese traditional music into their sound. All of this takes place while the guitar plays low, distorted, and slow riffs, backed by a rather inventive drummer that only rarely goes down the expected road. 灰ニナルマデ is very atmospheric and quite lightweight, for a sludge metal album, but this changes in the latter half of “潮風ニ吹カレテ” (Shiokaze ni fukarete), which sees its heaviest passage and the only blast beat present here.
Overall, 灰ニナルマデ is an odd and interesting album. Sludgey doom metal with Japanese influence is hard to come by, so I suggest you take advantage of this opportunity to get something quite unique and challenging.