Rudra - Brahmavidya: Transcendental I Review
by Miguel B.
Extreme metal is a dish reserved for the most esoteric of musical appetites. Not everyone can stomach the numbing decibels, fuzzy guitars, and endless vocal fusillades from growling singers. Then again, extreme metal has never sounded like Singapore's Rudra, a band whose own arcane themes fire the imagination with visions of fearsome deities, mind-warping ideas and meditations on human existence. These very qualities - matched by peerless musicianship and a disregard for death metal's traditional conventions - are responsible for Rudra's enduring appeal.
What gives Rudra's chaotic music a fresh spin is a solid background in Vedic philosophy, which is the focus of every album they have released since the mid-90s. Naturally, this year's Brahmavidya: Transcendental I follows this trend. In an interesting touch, the CD booklet actually contains explanations of the Vedas and their role in Hinduism, information I will leave for the enlightenment of the reader. On its own, my review lacks the space or time capable of describing the depth of Rudra's music.
The album itself begins softly with the rhythmic incantations of temple monks on the intro "Bhagavadpada Namaskara" (quite the tongue twister, eh?). After this, the heavy stuff instantly comes crashing down like a tidal wave in "Ravens of Paradise" before continuing with the awesome "Amrtasyaputra" and "Hymns From The Blazing Chariot."
Past track three Rudra take a break and allow the soothing mystic charms of "Meditations At Dawn" to ease the strain imposed by their heavier offerings. A similar track surfaces later on with the equally hypnotic interlude "Adiguru Namastubhyam." There is next the stripped down "Immortality Roars," where the band's drummer Shiva shows off behind the kit opposite bassist Kathir.
No matter what, Rudra never loses sight of their bottom line: this is an extreme metal album, so it is the aggressive songs that take center stage and there are plenty to go around. "Reversing the Currents," "Advaitamrta," the catchy "Not the Seen But The Seer," and the truly majestic album closer "Majestic Ashtavakra" are rife with blazing guitar solos, numbing drums, galloping bass lines, progressive complexity and frontman Kathir's cartoon villain vocals. Once the dust has settled, it becomes clear this savage album carries an enlightening message. Transcendental I could very well catapult Rudra into legend.
Ravens of Paradise
Hymns From the Blazing Chariot
Meditations At Dawn
Natural Born Ignorance
Reversing the Currents
Not The Seen But The Seer
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