Reviewed: August 2005
Released: 2005, Demonzend Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
“Vedic metal” is a term most people will not know, however Singapore’s Rudra (the Hindu god of storm) bring a mystical spirituality to the blackened thrash viciousness of their music that explains the term without words. On BRAHMAVIDYA: PRIMORDIAL I, the band’s fourth album, Rudra’s lyrics once again tap into the philosophies of the ancient Veda, crafting a sonic landscape that is simultaneously brutal and beautiful. Sanskrit lyrics are once again mixed with English and the use of exotic traditional instrumentation is offset by searing guitars, punishing drums, while Kathir’s raspy, snarled vocals is occasionally mixed with his own chanting and an ethereal female voice. Shiva’s drumming really stands out on this album as does the improved production and spellbinding music. Adding cultural significance and traditional flair to music is hardly a novel idea (see Melechesh, Sepultura, Finntroll or Nile, for example) however Rudra does it so well and so seamlessly that the fact they are still relatively unknown outside Southeast Asia is a crime. This is truly a brilliant release from start to finish that just may change that.
Combing groove with a torrent of blasting on “Ananya Chaitanya,” Shiva’s drumming quickly comes to the forefront of BRAHMAVIDYA: PRIMORDIAL I. The combination of Kathir’s other-worldly chants and Selvam’s razor-sharp leads cut a very unique swath. “The Pathless Path To The Knowable Unknown” features an infectious galloping rhythm with Kathir’s vocals gliding over top before the intensity sets in. The conclusion of this track with its hypnotizing chants and simple percussion is jaw-dropping. A beautiful female vocal echoes through “There The Sun Never Shines” and the mesmerizing riff that accompanies it makes this one of the standout tracks. Kathir’s doom-like bass intro to “Meditations On The Mahavakya” paves the way for some mid-paced grooves before Shiva’s intense blastbeats kick in. A diving Slayer-like guitar solo shows the fury behind the six-string, as well. The chorus of “Aham Brahmasmi” is repeated like a mantra over unrelenting blasting, while the engaging “Shivoham” is an acoustically exotic track that stands out from the rest. Almost prayer-like in its delivery, the female vocals on “Shivoham” create a spiritual aura that almost put the listener at the mercy of the ancient Vedic texts.
Music possesses the innate ability to affect a listener in a profound manner but BRAHMAVIDYA: PRIMORDIAL I is an experience like no other. This CD has surpassed Rudra’s previous release, KURUKSHETRA, as the statement to what the band is ultimately capable of. Incorporating didactic elements to music this heavy will certainly limit one’s audience initially, but an open-minded metal fan willing to give Rudra’s BRAHMAVIDYA: PRIMORDIAL I even half a chance will find him or herself carried off to a place they have never been. A place where its disciples bask in the all-encompassing genius of Rudra.
KILLER KUTS: “Ananya Chaitanya,” “The Pathless Path To The Knowable Unknown,” “There The Sun Never Shines,” “Meditations On The Mahavakya,” “Aham Brahmasmi,” \”Shivoham\”
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