Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

March 20, 2013

Rudra ~ Brahmavidya: Transcendental I

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: religious, Vedic Metal, death metal, India, Singapore
Label: Trinity Records
Year: 2009
Home: Singapore

Members: Kathir ~ bass/vocals
Selvam, Devan ~ guitars
Shiva ~ drums
n/a ~ tabla, tamboura, chanting

The interesting thing is what this Singaporean band says they create - Vedic Metal, that is metal inspired & influenced by the ancient Hindu scriptures known as the Vedas. The sad thing is how little this Vedic Metal idea comes across to the non-initiated listener ... & even as the initiated I struggle. Though, probably anyone not interested in Hinduism is not going to be listening unless Rudra is involved in a concert with other non-religious bands, which has been their fate considering the number of Vedic Metal bands on the scene before & after. I recognize some of the mantras & words & names of Gods being growled out, but if you don't know Vedic scriptures or mantra, for example the stories of Krishna, it'll just be another foreign language, which might be fine for you. As for the music there are passages of traditional Indian tamboura, tabla & Sanskrit hymn chanting. "Meditations At Dawn" fuses tabla & female chanting with acoustic guitar for a very interesting track that ends up being more of an intermission on an album that is less than interesting. These are my favorite bits of the album, having a fondness for Indian music, but there's nothing metal about them or anything that's not traditional classical Indian. They're just fluff essentially. As for the non-fluff there's nothing Indian there. It's just straight by the book twin guitar riffage in the Slayer tradition & like black metal with growling vocals & double bass drums doing blast beats like Sadistik Exekution. Interesting is the biting twin guitars that create a heavy sound, but uninteresting is how they just speed away like any other band with riffs as by the book as everything else. So, if Vedic Metal is a bunch of fluff with a bunch of metal but not fused together this is nothing but a joke or some false PR. Though, for me its just disappointing. But, I've said this with other bands that try to fuse different styles but don't really fuse but just use one as an intro to the other & they lay as unfused as ever. So, where exactly does the Vedic Metal tag come in then? Solely the lyrics. The lyrics are inspired by & include Hindu philosopy & stories & mantras. But, while I can pick out some mantras in the lyrics, most of it will be indistinguishable to someone who is unfamiliar with sanskrit, while the growling vocals make what is there largely undecipherable. So, the Vedic of the metal is going to be lost on many folks unless you chance to her the name Krishna growled out. For me, if you're going to sing hymns about God & the mythology about the Gods ... well, let me put it this way - I hope God understands what's being said as while I've chanted many Vedic hymns over the years I made sure the words were clear even if the definitions not. I made sure to keep my gargling in the bathroom. But, I have this problem with black metal. I know there's a lot of folks who can't sing, including myself, but there are lots of folks who can & would love to be in a band. Find one instead of singing lyrics nobody can understand. There's a few English moments, but sometimes I couldn't tell what I was hearing & I don't know what language most of the album is in. That just disappoints me. For me the idea of Vedic Metal sings of potential, not rehash of Slayer & just replacing songs about god with songs about Vishnu the God. Remove the extraneous classical Indian music bridges & this sounds just like any other black metal band with a very dense sound & lots of blast beats. There's so many bands like this I have trouble recommending one more. I think it's great what they're wanting to do lyrically, even if I can't understand any of it. I support Hindu rock & welcome more of it, but this isn't interesting. I'll stick to Slayer when I want Slayer & just read my Hindu texts at night before bed. It's worked so far. Originally formed in 1992 as a trio & known as Rudhra, an alias of Shiva who is the embodiment of unpredictable nature, the band put out a demo & some contributions to compilations before separating. They reunited in 1996, now as Rudra. They'd go through numerous line-up changes over the years. This is the second chapter in a trilogy of albums starting with 2005's Primordial I & finishing with 2011's Immortal I. It would follow a line-up change & be followed by one. This is their fifth album. In 2010, Rudra headlined the first day of Baybeats, an annual alternative music festival in Singapore. This is thought to be one of the few times, if the only, when an extreme metal band has headlined a non-metal music festival. Rudra has also become the interest of musicologists & research papers have been published about both Vedic Metal & the band. Personally, I'd rather read those than hear the music, but having heard the music I can't see that much musically to talk about that's not elaborating on things that aren't there. Though, maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt that their riffing uses Indian raga forms? Maybe I just shouldn't ask?

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