Kokumaromilk is a weird band from Japan built around multi-instrumentalist and singer Iwama Hiroyuki and female singer Uzu who usually play metal cover songs under the banner Pleasure Music Temple. Their side project is experimental, over-the-top Visual Kei including a mixture of different genres from pop music and ska over electronic elements, and incuding vivid gothic and power metal elements, as well as some classical music. All in all, it sounds like the soundtrack to some crazy manga series. Short instrumentals between one and two minutes each are combined with compact, catchy songs and even the occasional lengthy track that goes on for almost nine minutes. If you have a taste for courageous Visual Kei bands similar to X Japan, Moi Dix Mois, and Babymetal, you should give this project`s debut a few spins.
The most outstanding song on this short release is without a doubt the weird “PIPIPI”. It’s the kind of song you want or claim to hate, but end up enjoying because you can’t get rid of its ridiculous melodies. The songs starts with 8-bit computer game sounds, and the track turns out to be a joyous power metal song. It includes ska-influenced verses, recalling music of the seventies and eighties, and cheesy electronic sounds that remind me of the music I grew up with in the nineties. This potpourri of styles is crowned by an extremely childish chorus. God help me if I don’t love this song!
What else is going on this record? The longer tracks remind me of a mixture of MUCC and UneXpect. Melancholic piano passages and disturbing lounge breaks are jammed together with fast-paced power metal fronted by hysterical vocals, electric organ sounds, and additional, rebellious vocals conveying a classic rock ‘n roll feeling. Sometimes the changes in the song writing sound odd, but the tracks will make more sense and grow if you’re ready to spend some more time with this vivid twenty-five minute debut. Needless to say, this is the kind of music only the Japanese create, and the six schizophrenic songs here include more ideas than most other bands put into entire discographies.
I would go crazy if I listened to this kind of music all day long, but from time to time it’s an overwhelmingly entertaining ride through many different emotions and genres. I recommend checking in on this eclectic project if you’re interested in something new, varied, and strange.
Dear students, weren’t you all craving the sophomore record and another review for Kokumaromilk? These are your possible answers: a.) Yeah, thanks to bands like these, I don’t even feel the need to do drugs! b.) No way, coconut milk is not metal at all. c.) I’m not drunk enough to read through this review@ d.) Pipipipipi!!! I would have chosen the last answer, myself. Anyway, here it is, and only one year after the self-titled full length release, Kokumaromilk is back with a second output of roughly forty minutes of new material. Metal Archives tell us that the band’s sophomore release can be translated as “The Princess Wears Grey”, but my internet translator indicates “Girl Whore”. The first one sounds more beautiful but the second seems to be more accurate. Anyway, please choose your camp and prepare for a big surprise.
In fact, Kokumaromilk sounds much more ambitious, atmospheric, and mature on its sophomore effort. In particular, the song writing made a big step forward. Childish melodies and catchy choruses have been reduced, and the band offers more epic and sophisticated tracks with an authentic gothic and Visual Kei feeling. The average running time of a song on this release is about seven minutes, as compared to approximately four on the predecessor. Therefore, this release makes me think of projects like Sound Horizon rather than Babymetal, as was the case on the first record. The duo still adds a few surprising elements here and there of course, such as Japanese folk elements and vocal samples in the challenging opener and title song “Girl Whore”, jazz and big band elements in the charming “Innocent Love Talk”, and classical music in the elegant “Haikaburi Princess”. In comparison to the band’s first effort, its sophomore release is much easier to digest and less hectic. The different ideas take time to develop intriguing atmospheres, and aren’t just randomly thrown together.
While most experiments on the sophomore effort work very well and sound surprisingly serious, there are still a few exceptions. The longest track, right in the middle of the album, is a rough one. Basically, it’s a sound collage with air raid sirens, battlefield, and military march sounds, as well as a very bleak atmosphere, and it drags on with minimal instrumentation and many odd spoken word passages for almost ten minutes. The track has an intriguing concept, but musically it is completely forgettable. If you don’t understand any Japanese, it is even more painful to listen through this song.
Apart from this questionable track, all other songs have at least gripping passages or are completely successful examples of improved progressive song writing. Kokumaromilk’s second output is intellectually appealing, musically colorful, and always entertaining. While the first strike had its moments, the sophomore output can be considered a success, and is very warmly recommended to fans of Japanese rock, metal and, Visual Kei bands. I’m hoping for a new full length from this duo after their 2010 EP!