The world is a big place. It’s very easy for a talented band to go almost virtually unnoticed by the majority whenever they put out material. That goes double for underground metal bands, and even more so for those who hail from China. The Chinese haven’t really been known to have a rich metal scene, but there is undoubtedly very talented bands from those borders. Black Kirin is one of the first Chinese groups I’ve heard take on metal, and their unique style is what made me love their debut effort. It didn’t take long for Black Kirin to follow it up, and what we’ve gotten with this sophomore album is no less than fucking delicious.
Right off the fucking bat with “Nanking Massacre”, I knew things were going to be different with this effort. First off, the name of the record and it’s cover convey a very specific feeling as soon as you register them both. It’s a very foreboding and dark, to say the least, and it’s those feelings that make their way into the seven tracks that make up “Nanking Massacre” that really allows Black Kirin to go for a slightly different sound while still keeping their multi-layered metal as the vessel. And what Black Kirin does is by no means simple: an incredibly complex mix of all things extreme metal that fuses death and black metal together with folk influences while even bringing in custom symphonies bring so many unique flavors to the mix that make this band truly one of a kind, and the inclusion of traditional Chinese instruments does nothing but justice for their country’s heritage. It flows together perfectly, and I’m confident in saying we’ve never seen a band like this before and likely never will again so when I heard the initial effort of “National Trauma”, I thought Black Kirin might decrease in quality. With the release of “Nanking Massacre”, Black Kirin proved me wrong as this piece is every bit as strong as its predecessor.
Despite having less content that “National Trauma” in terms of both the number of songs and the length of the album overall, “Nanking Massacre” carries on the simple fact that Black Kirin is a monstrous force that can’t be toppled. Bringing together so many different styles can easily sound like a bad idea on paper and in execution, but these guys make it work phenomenally well! The very first track sets a very special mood for “Nanking Massacre” despite not having a single lyric: terror and melancholy. Those two emotions penetrate these seven tracks whether Black Kirin goes all out and gives us a barrage of intense metal with a hauntingly gorgeous cinematic feel to it or going for a quieter approach with their instrumental tracks to really drive home the fact that there’s more than just a violent face to tragedy. “Nanking Massacre” is everything it needed to be in terms of musical mastery to emotional impact. Black Kirin takes things from violent extremes to calm depressions that truly make this record feel three dimensional and like a real story with its own beginning and end. The melodies come together seamlessly with the glorious symphonies and the beautiful instrumentation from different backgrounds to make one hell of a backdrop for the metal that we’re met within the foreground. It’d be very easy to mess up such a concoction, but Black Kirin once again pulls it off with utmost skill and grace, and it culminates in an entrancing experience of epic proportions.
China has always been a place that I wanted to visit because the traditions, the culture, the history, and so much more about the country captivate me wholly without question. But now I want to go to the land just so that I can shake the hands of the members behind Black Kirin because for the second time in less than two years they’ve created something truly special. This volatile blend of metal can only be pulled off by true masters, and Black Kirin have more than proven themselves to be such grand masters of the style. “Nanking Massacre” is an essential album for the year for anyone looking for something truly special by every definition of the word, and now more than ever the world needs to keep their eyes on Black Kirin because now the possibilities are endless for a band with such vast potential!
LISTEN to “Nanking Massacre” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Black Kirin on Facebook here.