Friday, 11 September 2009

Kanashimi - Romantik Suicide. 92/100.

Part II of this series featured our first depressive black metal band and, unless you’re a fan of this style, be prepared to look away now as the third instalment of this series looking over the Asian take on black metal covers, partially, depressive black metal. However, though this may be the case, Kanashimi, today’s main meal on the menu, is a far cry from the majority of bands fitting this description. Most notably, of course, due to the fact that Misanthropy, the bands only member, incorporates themes of funeral doom into the mixture that adds a new direction to the haunting darkness that floats in between the songs like an apparition breaking out of the afterlife and into this mortal realm of impure souls. Immediately, as the introduction subtly pummels its way through the thin paper bag that is the production and into our mortal world, this haunting depiction of depressive black metal fused coherently with a clean funeral style is a significant alteration of what we would expect from this sub-genre. This is one of the few eye openers within this field that has a major impact upon my entire impression of this area of music which has been pigeon holed since its deviation from professionalism to the bedroom.

Bringing depressive black metal into our homes has become far too literal for some people as bedroom bands, particularly one man bedroom bands, have begun to dominate the airways as this sub-genre begins to tear down its promising beginnings by establishing negative stereotypes that will eventually bring about the downfall of this once talented field of repressed musicians. 2009 could wind up being a very important year for this sub-genre. “Why?”, I hear you ask. Well, bands like Pensées Nocturnes have begun to spring up from sources unknown and are developing their own manipulated take of the generalised sound of depressive music by mixing it with aspects of other music that might seem a little odd at first but, essentially, these odd gatherings of supposedly miss-matched elements are what drives the music on from generic to genius. Pensées Nocturnes gave depressive black metal a new lease of life by fusing the weary sounds with a welcomed face lift by intermingling classical elements into the black metal musings. This, although extremely brave, is a concept that was effective, enchanting and drew ecstasy out from behind the depressed emotions that dominated the sound waves. ‘Romantik Suicide’, though it may reek of stereotypes on the outside (given its unimaginative name and the clichéd pseudonym of the bands only musician), appeals to a wider audience that may have been disgruntled by the lacklustre efforts of depressive musicians of late.

Bands like Pensées Nocturnes and even Japan’s Kanashimi are paving the way forward with their individual creative juices that flow like fine wine at a fancy dinner party for the illustrious members of high society. These classically (not limited to classical music, but also the classic traits of black metal) influenced bands become classics in their approach, given the extraordinary innovation that takes place between the opening of the first song and the ending of the last. Daring to be bold is a brave move in itself and doesn’t always pay off. A number of technical bands, from other metal genres, have done the same and been greeted by cries of pretension and rightfully so. Brave musical concepts can often be lost of the traditional fan, who is looking for a continuation of what he, or she knows is a working method, not something that is looking to rebel against the established rules of music. Depressive black metal hasn’t been around for long and because of this, its possible to move away from the roots without too much fuss being made over the negating of traditions. Bands like Burzum and Strid, the so-called usual suspects, have little influence on the overall sound here and this is very pleasing. Though I don’t mind a few “Burzum clones”, I was after something more inclined to disagree with the majority when they state that modern bands need to closely relate to the roots in order to be a major success.

It doesn’t and Kanashimi proves that by providing the listener with an extraordinarily beautiful piece of black metal, meshed together with subtle funeral doom elements, in this evocative and escapist record. I call this “escapism at its very best” because the soundscapes truly capture the imagination of the listener as they wander along the highway of the lost souls that had committed suicide over the breaking down of a forlorn relationship. This record, adjudged to be a romantic tale, is definitely that. The piano based material is a wonderful excursion for the listener to delve into the mind of someone who, like Romeo & Juliette, is deeply in love and prepared to forsake all for the benefit of their relationship, their partner and ultimately, themselves. I’m not sure I’d call this a concept record, but it certainly is a storyteller, with a incoherent narrator, Misanthropy, who tells us of his undying love in death through young eyes. The story is moving, namely because of the smart inclusion of the piano and accompanying synths that sympathise with the emotionally distraught piano based material. Whether this would be a success without the piano’s inclusion is another matter altogether. Personally, I’m not so sure, but the fact that it is included changes everything. Misanthropy has shown vision and a skill for writing songs with a structure that flows impeccably, like the greatest love story ever told. The piano base gives the record a romantic feel, one that isn’t often associated with black metal, let alone the depressive side of things.

It would be easy to screw this portrayal up and have things sound like another angst ridden rant from a messed up teenager, confessing his love for a girl who never even knew he existed, but that isn’t the case. This record forces the listener to be empathetic to the cause of the pain. The vocals are soaked in the crimson blood of a romantic suicide, brought on by a lost love, a lost chance. The emotional vulnerability of this record is superb. Its open and impressive in its expression of emotions. The production sounds a little weak at first, but is a grower. It doesn’t do the vocals justice, giving them a distinctive unprofessional sound, but this production, muddy and murky, is perhaps where the funeral elements are drawn out of the darkness. It moulds itself around the instrumentation with a subtlety that penetrates the soundscapes and our minds with creativity and dynamism shown brilliantly on songs like ‘Eien Ni…’. The drums sound as if they could be a drum machine, hollow and repetitive, but they’re tastefully done and mesmerise alongside the repetitive guitars, dissonant and depressing. These two elements aren’t as important as one might think they are, which is strange and innovative for the genre. The piano is where most of the joy will unfold given its wonderful atmospheric presence, drawing a romantic sound out from the cold hearted callousness. One of Japan’s obscure gems.

No comments:

Post a Comment