RUDRA - BRAHMAVIDYA: TRANSCENDENTAL I - TRINITY
With the new Behemoth album upon humanity, it might be too easy to overlook this gem of Asian death metal, which is every bit as arcane and philosophical as anything released in Europe. Rudra have been around for a while now, having made a name for themselves in their hometown, Singapore. For this year’s Brahmavidya: Transcendental I through Trinity Records of Hong Kong the band pull no stops at realizing their peculiar musical vision. Having peddled a strange mix of death metal and Hindu Vedic philosophy since the mid '90s, Rudra stand apart not only in South East Asia but the greater metal world.
Wanting to mix mood and atmosphere with their high-intensity decibels, the intro Bhagavadpada Namaskara is a hypnotic segue combining monastic incantations and airs of pseudo religious ritual. The brutal stuff doesn’t arrive until the buzzing Ravens Of Paradise, which introduces the band’s complex and muscular sound. A bevy of harder tracks follow, each swirling with grating riffs, precision drumming, and vocals somewhere between Nile and Morbid Angel. An interlude titled Meditations At Dawn paces the album’s all-encompassing theme by tapping into the listener’s spirituality using ethnic instruments and soothing utterances.
Rudra’s twisted interpretation of extreme metal - the blastbeats, galloping bass lines, and epic guitar solos - returns with full force on tracks like Advaitamrta, Natural Born Ignorance, and Reversing The Currents, before the band take a break on the barebones percussion driven instrumental Immortality Roars. It’s a strange few minutes of music, where only the drums, bass, and frontman Kathir’s chants produce the melody. A deluge of blackened death metal arrives in its wake beginning with Avidya Nivertti, Not The Seen But The Seer and Venerable Opposites. The curtains fall on Transcendental I once the Oriental vibe of the overture Adiguru Namastubhyam gives way to the controlled chaos that’s Majestic Ashtavakra.
Blessed with faultless musicianship, boundless ambition, and an original concept, Rudra have created a bewildering masterpiece. It’s an impressive body of work that’s a hair’s breadth from being timeless. If only its yawn-inducing qualities were ironed out, Rudra would have seriously kicked the world in the nuts. - Michael Thrash