Brahmavidya: Transcendental I
Trinity Records HK
7/17/2009 - Review by: Hail and Kill
Rudra are a Singaporean quartet who've carved themselves a niche beyond categorization. Confident that no one else is writing music like they do, these four gentleman metalheads have christened their sound ‘Vedic Metal,' a new fangled interpretation of extreme music where the death, thrash, black, and progressive sub genres form a backdrop to the Vedas—sacred Hindu texts written in Sanskrit. Rudra's entire musical output, including this year's "Brahmavidya: Transcendental I," is ancient wisdom rendered into music along the lines of Morbid Angel, Behemoth, Carcass, Nile, and Vital Remains. Curious metalheads only have to try the intro "Bhagavadpada Namaskara" or the more visceral "Avidya Nivrtti" for proof of the band's uniqueness. But Rudra aren't just weird, because they know their metal and prove it on the album's first song, "Ravens of Paradise." It's melodic, cacophonous, evil sounding, and complex, a treat for every connoisseur whose musical tastes range from the brutal to the grandiose.
Thankfully, Rudra don't take a shining to religion and are quite disgusted with the epidemic of anti-Christian sentiment among death and black metal circles. They've decided long ago that such rubbish is below them, as they prefer using their Indian forebears' non-dualist philosophy as the focal point of their artistic vision. Delivering lyrics in both English and Sanskrit, Rudra concoct ferocious songs that can put any number of their peers to shame. There's a lot to choose from across this 14 track album: "Amrtasyaputra," the utterly smokin' "Hymns From The Blazing Chariots," the gallops n' power fest that's "Advaitamtra," "Not the Seen But The Seer" (this one's catchy), "Reversing the Currents," and the swirling closer "Majestic Ashtavakra" where frontman Kathir proclaims in his tortured snarl "I! I am the One! The non-dually one, I am!"
While the album's breadth can occasionally bore to distraction, "Brahmavidya: Transcendental I" clocks in an hour plus of epic guitar solos, twisted growls, virtuoso musicianship, and contemplative interludes that guarantee there's something for everybody inside this concept-driven masterpiece. In fact, there's so much going on here—including strange instrumental segues filled with quasi-mystical muttering like "Meditations At Dawn," Immortality Roars" and "Adiguru Namastubhyam"—it's as if the multi-limbed goddess Shiva (Rudra is a moniker of hers, by the way) performed this album entirely on her own. With "Transcendental I" Rudra have forged a new chapter in extreme music, all the metal world has to do now is celebrate their ascendancy. OM.
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