The great thing about black metal is that it’s one of the few subgenres (outside of anything electro or hip-hop) that can be entirely recorded and produced by a single person in his bedroom. The lo-fi raw production value is par for the course. Some of the greatest and most influential black metal albums sound as if they were recorded through a Fisher-Price microphone, giving them that cold, distant feeling. Now it’s as simple as plugging your guitar into your computer, applying distortion, and programming a drum machine to play at an inhuman BPM.
Such is the case with Xarkrinur, a black metal project out of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The band’s single member, named “Xyklen,” started in 2012 at the tender age of 12, scream whispering into a microphone and hammering on his guitar with buzz saw distortion. The music didn’t sound great, but Xyklen’s young age made it a novelty and attracted enough attention from around the world. It’s been six years since Xarkrinur’s last release Dark Rituals, which was put out through a Californian DIY label, Psalm 88. What was Xyklen doing during that hiatus? Who knows, but it definitely wasn’t spent improving his guitar skills.
His newest release Dishehara (Bengali for “disoriented”) are three songs of “acoustic black metal.” It strips away everything I enjoy about black metal: the screaming vocals, the raw distortion and the blast beats, leaving only the crappy sound and the depressive tone. The opening track “A Walk Under The Purple Sky” is just Xyklen softly playing the same chord on an out-of-tune acoustic guitar. Maybe he thinks the disharmonic high note of the chord gives the song that metal edge (also I swear I can hear a car honking in the distance on the recording). “A Broken Grave By A Tree” is somewhat the same, with Xyklen repetitively strumming down on the same two notes. The title track is probably the best of the three, because it’s the closest Xyklen gets to the black metal tremolo picking that I’m familiar.
I understand the mood Xarkrinur is trying to create, but playing the same dissonant chords and hoping they stick doesn’t do the trick (if you want to hear acoustic black metal done right, read my review for Zeresh). Xyklen might be pandering to a niche community that I’m not aware of, but this is almost a regression on what he was doing before. At 20 years old, it’s no longer a novelty. Dishehara is a nothing burger, or a “Nothing Borgir,” if you will.
Written by Chris Aitkens
*Edited by Dominic Abate