Thursday 13 May 2021

Yarimā - The Strings of Fate (2021)

Country: ?
Style: Symphonic Folk Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 30 Apr 2021
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | Metal Archives | Official Website

Mystery isn't new in the rock/metal world. Crimson Glory were a fantastic band and I hope that they'd have reached the level of success that they did without the mask gimmickry that hid their faces on the first album and half of them on the second. Who knows. And who knows anything about Yarimā? This is a submission, so I have the press kit and that doesn't help at all. What I know is that Yarimā Kuro is "a Dima Faewarian of the Soomēna Forest, situated in the Eyvarla Kingdom, in the far east of the planet Faewar." Well, OK then.

What I think this means is that this album isn't merely music, it's a musical element that fits within a much wider multimedia creation. I wandered the web for a while and found that the LovAnaverse is a fictional place for Love Anarchy characters to live and "create fantastical entertainment". Therefore, Yarimā Kuro is a fictional persona rather than a person and this music sits within the framework of a fictional universe that she calls home and the fictional storylines that surround it and her.

Who the real person behind Yarimā Kuro is, I have no idea. I presume hers is the voice that dominates the album, but does she provide all the music too, as Metal Archives suggests or is that the work of a fellow Faewarian, Gaius Black? Are they both the same person? Your guess is as good as mine and, at this point, I'll step back from this surrounding concept, because while it's certainly interesting, it's no requirement for you to explore or enjoy this album.

Musically, this is symphonic metal but it rarely wants the spotlight. It's there primarily to support the vocals and any moments where it feels like it wants to go neo-classical are suppressed. It's there to be a background in a similar way to how the musicians in Babymetal are there to provide a backdrop for the young ladies who are the focus of the band to do their thing against. There is variety here and the best songs, like Only the Brave and Forever Bound, benefit from that, but mostly it's just a backdrop, a texture to support or counter.

The vocals are folkier in nature and really are the focal point here, even though Yarimā Kuro is never particularly interested in playing along with this symphonic metal approach. The fictional Faewarians owe their heritage to elemental fairies and that really fits the vocal approach, because, even though the music is loud and dark and crunchy, she's fundamentally light and airy and melodic. I didn't catch anywhere near as much Asian influence in the vocals as I expected from the press kit, but it's there in a thematic sense. She often sings like a waterfall sings, which makes this peaceful and pastoral, like a voice you might listen to while contemplating life in a Japanese garden.

The ethnic flavour is more obvious in the music, but even then only on some songs. Forever Bound has a koto to kick things off, but it's there in other songs too and the atmospheres conjured up in synths have a vague Asian flavour to them. It has to be underlined, though, that this never once ceases to be a western take on eastern flavours and melody structures, and every song is sung in English. I'd never call this Japanese folk metal, but it's a palatable sort of eastern infused metal exotica, as translated into an alien universe. As a puzzle piece in a worldbuilding effort, this is admirable.

It's also very likeable as music but whatever substance it might have is hidden behind the concept we can never quite leave behind. It's well performed and well sung and the more imaginative songs have merit. Only the Brave is probably my favourite song here, with some neat dynamics to brighten it up a little. The title track is a standout too, as is the closer, Forever Bound, which surprises us with a second voice that was absent for the first nine songs but arrives in time for the last. It's a harsh male voice, a much more natural fit for the backing music, leading to a notable beauty and the beast scenario.

I like this album, whoever really sang it and whoever really played it. Will these songs "heal the world in ethereal melody", the way the magical Dimarai songstress Yarimā Kuro does on the planet Faewar? That's doubtful, but it's a neat idea to tie a musical project like this album to. Best of luck to her!

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