For something off the beaten track, there’s Kokukou, an intense split 12” release from Japanese metal acts Heaven in Her Arms and Cohol.
The first half of the split 12” features the music of Heaven in Her Arms. Sounding like the violently depressed lovechild of the music groups Deafheaven and Converge, Heaven in Her Arms’ first track, “Kuroi Senko,” is a beautifully restrained post- rock instrumental that segues into the ambient “Mayu.”
Having just spent two-thirds of their split 12” creating lush, quiet sounds, Heaven in Her Arms delivers a devastating sucker punch with “Shuen No Mabushisa” – an aggressively propulsive track that dizzies you with faster-than-the-hiccups fret tapping and bludgeons you with unreal speed drumming. With “Shuen No Mabushisa,” Heaven in Her Arms manages to showcase every aspect of their sound all at once: larynx-lacerating vocals, moments of tenderness and beauty that flit around the jagged edges of violent guitar riffs and post-rock theatrics.
On the other side of the split 12” are three tracks by Cohol. They take over the reins of the heavy metal attack that Heaven in Her Arms started with the pummeling “Fumo No Chi.” Unlike Heaven in Her Arms’ intriguing sonic journey from quiet to loud, Cohol’s side of the split begins strong, hits a major roadblock midway through, and barely redeems itself at the end with closing track “Sogai.”
While not perfect, this quick listen is undoubtedly worth checking out if you’re a metal fan craving something different.