Brahmavidya: Transcendental I
Singapore’s Rudra returns with their second installment of the Brahmavidya trilogy with Transcendental I. Following the foundations that they have set up with the previous album, Primordial I, Transcendental I displays a more polished side of Rudra, displaying their ability to play extremely fast blackened death metal side by side with tracks that are driven by classical Indian instruments. This is also Rudra’s longest record so far, clocking in at more than 1 hour.
The album starts off deceivingly (or perhaps not, if you already know Rudra’s style of music) with an acoustic track with classical Indian instruments and a female vocalist singing over Hindu hymns. However, once the track ends and Ravens of Paradise starts, it’s like a kick in the face with Rudra’s extremely fast and brutal death metal assault. This album is perhaps the album with the fastest songs that Rudra has ever written, with songs like Hymns from the Blazing Chariot and Not the Seen But the Seer featuring passages that have extremely fast drumming by Shiva, complete with the aggressive yet heavily eastern laden riffs and guitar solos laid down by guitarists Devan and Selvam. Of course, bassist/vocalist gets his time to shine with lead bass lines such as on Advaitamrta, building up the climax before all hell breaks loose. The extremely polished production also adds to the enjoyment of the album, with biting guitar tones.
While this is Rudra’s fastest effort so far, it could also be the album with the most acoustic passages. Songs such as Meditations at Dawn sees Rudra proudly displaying their heritage, complete with Eastern instruments and Indian styled percussions and Hindu chants over these instruments. Songs such as Hymns from the Blazing Chariot also fuse the acoustic segments before the actual song, relating the story behind the song to the listener.
Kathir’s lyrics are also extremely philosophical, drawing most of the lyrical inspirations from epic Hindu literature such as the Bhagavad Gita, with stories about epic wars in Hindu literature that make the ride more exciting if one understands what is going on behind all the music.
Some bands try to display their heritage through the execution of the songs but end up failing, but these pioneers of what is now known as Vedic metal show everyone how it is done, and how to do it well.