Sonic Blast Media
So 2 weeks before the release of the new Rudra album, I bumped into frontman Kathir, and following a short discussion on how much I disliked long albums (how my preferences have changed over the years), he promised me that RTA would then be an album that I would really dislike. Well, with the band’s seventh full length album RTA now released, there is partial truth in what Kathir had promised, with the album running an entire hour long. And he wasn’t completely wrong about me not liking the album as well (well, not at first anyway).
With the inclusion of new guitarist Vinod who has already left his mark on Rudra‘s style since the band’s last release Brahmavidya: Immortal I, the band this time introduces Simon on board, taking the place of Devan and then Subash, leaving the band once again with a different lineup from the previous album. Yet the backbone of Rudra consisting of frontman Kathir and drummer Shiva remain the same, so perhaps the deviance from the recent onslaughts of Rudra would not be that great.
However with opening track Death this was quickly proven wrong. With the modern style that the band has engaged in on the releases since Brahmavidya: Primordial I, along with that undeniable Gothenburg style that Vinod had included with his lead playing in the last album, one would expect the band to continue progressing towards that direction. Yet the band this time chooses to go back to their roots (musically), with the material on RTA for the most part being rather reminiscent of the band’s earlier material on the self-titled Rudra and The Aryan Crusade. But with one major difference: rather than the speedy and aggressive death metal style that the band has engaged in over the years, Rudra instead goes in a mid-pace for almost the entirety of the album, with the entire focus being on the emotions that are roused through the melodies that are unleashed by both Vinod and Simon, along with the song progressions.
At the same time, the elements that gave Rudra such a distinctive taste and flavour are still present. The Indian scales are still heavily utilised, though with the departure of Devan the slight stylistic shift can be rather obvious for longtime fans of the band. Vinod still retains his lead style of playing with the occasional (generous) utilising of his whammy bar and what-not, ensuring that things remain interesting throughout, at the same time bringing in some classic sounds of bands like Morbid Angel. Not forgetting the inclusion of the chants, the traditional Indian instruments and percussions to enhance the overall atmosphere. The band has even included the Javanese Gamelan this time, further including more Asian elements into their musical journey.
But why that initial disappointment? With the way things were going with Transcendental I and Immortal I, I almost expected another piece of aggressive, fast-paced death metal release. But with RTA the band seemed to have taken (too much) of a chill pill, with the slow buildups of songs like Heartbroken, and initial listens were rather mind-numbing. However, with numerous listens the intentions of the band were clear, and obviously the music went along well with the themes that Rudra are dealing with this time, with the exploration of the more emotive aspects of Valmiki Ramayana. And with each additional listen, one quickly finds himself enchanted by the soundscape provided by the band on RTA.