Rudra – Brahmavidya: Immortal I(2011)
Sticking to a concept or an ideal, at least for a band that has been around for quite some time, can be a difficult thing. Most ‘black metal’ bands have evolved ideologically, some from satanism to paganism, some the other way round, and some just don’t give much of a crap. But Rudra has stuck to perfecting a sound for ‘vedic metal’, as they like to call it, and on this album, the perfection might have very well been reached.
Harsh vocals that switch between English and Sanskrit, and chanted sanskrit passages/verses, tremolo picked riffs that borrow more from Indian ragas like Bhairavi than from their Western pentatonic counterparts, drumming that is tastefully done to meet the needs of the song, as well as providing enough variety for it not to sound a monotonous assault of blast beats/double bass(especially around 3:17 in Illusory Enlightenment, epic use of the cymbals)…there is quite a lot of good that can be said for this album. The bass is audible, but could have been louder, or so I thought initially. But that would have meant overpowering those impeccably crafted riffs and choruses, so the tradeoff seems to work. The solos are a good mix of a bluesy feel and ‘oriental’ modes, and though they sometimes venture into chromatic shred territory, they never seem out of place. Some of the song names are a tad too esoteric (like ‘Harrowing Carrions of Syllogism’, ‘Supposed Sages of Sensuality’), and though that takes away nothing from the music, the lyrics and some sort of an explanation will definitely add to it.
The production is slightly on the cleaner side, at least for black metal, but it fits like the proverbial glove, and a rawer mix would’ve meant lesser precision on the guitar attacks. All in all, this is a record that doesn’t have TOO many new ideas, but loads of old ones that have been polished to perfection, making it a very good contender for my top 10 BM albums of the year, along with Krallice, Altar of Plagues, and Blut Aus Nord. A must have for anyone interested in metal that ‘sounds Indian’, or just ethnic music in general. It definitely won’t disappoint the aforementioned group of people, and has the potential to stay fresh for multiple listens. This gets an 8.8/10. You can buy it in India from RCR(Roadcrew Records).
P.S – It’s slightly painful to tag this as an international metal album review, considering its a lot more ‘Indian’ than most Indian metal albums.