Australia’s Kurushimi Pack Thrilling Improv-Based Jazz-Metal On New Record

Chaos Remains — the latest full-length album from the Sydney, Australia-based crew Kurushimi — sounds like hopping in a piece of heavy machinery and taking a wrecking ball to a decrepit scrapyard full of contorted chunks of metal — and then setting the rubbish ablaze and swinging the wrecking ball once more. Blistering yet thoroughly captivating energy rolls on throughout the record.

The impressive group performs an improvisation-based blend of jazz and metal, with a vibrant palette of variations from there. The metal elements of Kurushimi’s sound range from tense grind-inclined freak-outs to thundering riffs à la classic post-metal, while the jazz moves across a dynamic range roughly on par with the metal, from atmospheric ambiance to jarring cacophony.

Saxophones are nearly always present or not far behind across Chaos Remains — the jazzy elements aren’t fleeting. Instead, they’re intricately interwoven into the album’s tapestry, and — although the whole mix is starkly brash — similar vibes seem to fuel the album’s diverse components, so (on some level, at least) the transitions feel organic. Of course, the emotionally realistic scenarios that the album reflects are themselves chaotic, like dancing amidst metallic wreckage, but the journey remains thoroughly compelling and rather sonically rich. There’s always something going on here, from blasting guitars to churning drums, and the unpredictability keeps the trip electrifying.

The journey begins with the startlingly grueling album opener “The Omen,” which feels — as its title suggests — genuinely ominous, like a herald of some looming catastrophe. The track features heavy mid-tempo riffs and snaking saxophones, cultivating a thick immersive atmosphere. In the album’s slower moments, the trek feels like stepping into some haze-filled jazz club where something feels off but you can’t quite name what’s so unsettling — until realizing that space and depth themselves seem to be shifting, as if the entire place is off-balance. It’s a trip.

A lot of the music, even in its slower moments, is quite weighty, and it’s poignantly emotive, so this weight feels moving. “Black,” the album’s second track, proves a bit more overtly thunderous, with — as elsewhere on the album — earth-shaking basslines. The song also features abrasively structured saxophones and rolling thunderclap riffs.

Meanwhile, tracks including “Relentless Beating,” “Ambulance Run,” and “Choke” all feature particularly blistering frenzy as Kurushimi rev up their performances as though suddenly firing up a helicopter in the middle of a debris-strewn club floor.

On the particularly standout track “The Mysteries of Chaos,” which features over eight minutes of unsettling music and is the longest song on the record, Kurushimi roll out contorted wisps of sound that gradually grow in intensity, like the sound of an expanding blaze.

It’s really never particularly dismal — instead, the music as a whole proves quite entrancing. It’s like a soundtrack for a solitary thrill ride through some locale where you might never otherwise expect such a venture.

Chaos Remains is available via Art As Catharsis.

5/5 Stars

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