Dark Buddha Rising - Dakhmandal
Svart Records
6 songs (01:20:53)
Release year: 2013
Svart Records
Reviewed by Charles
The influences of ultra-minimalist ambient music are now pretty entrenched in extreme metal, assuming various permutations ranging from the dour, ritualistic treehugging of Blood of the Black Owl or Fauna, to the eclectic fusion influences of Horseback or Locrian. Dark Buddha Rising are one of the most interesting examples of this kind of thing. Featuring personnel from, among other places, neofolk voyagers Hexvessel, they balance their often thunderous metal riffs with subtle, sinister textures, producing a sound which is darker and more enigmatic than the goofy name may suggest.

First track D (each one a single letter) establishes a tense mood. A haze of electronic buzzes, pulsating bass tones and jangling spatters of guitar coalesce over an insistent percussion rhythm. The oppressive feel of the bass and the sparse, freeform guitar remind me of the dark atmopshere found on classic early jazz fusion albums like Bitches Brew. Throughout its twelve minute running time there are no sudden movements- merely a slow but inexorable crescendo turning equally incrementally into a fade-out.

The rest of the album makes much more use of heavy metal riffing, but the atmosphere is set and is never really dispelled. Most tracks feature crashing, abrasive riffs, affixed to the same elongated song structures. It’s always the peripheral elements that make the album. Rather than the riffs themselves, the interesting things here are the curious sounds that permeate around them. This could take the form of the tribalistic acoustic instrumentation that comes to the fore in K, for example, or the piercing keyboard sounds which bring H to a genuinely scary climax. M, meanwhile, is haunted throughout by a strange electronic noise like a howling wind. You get the idea: despite the seeming repetitiveness of the songwriting, there is always something odd going on throughout Dakhmandal.

While songs generally progress slowly and subtly, there are exceptional moments. Most obvious is the sudden free jazz freakout that explodes halfway through N. For the most part, though, Dark Buddha Rising play with a loose, spontaneous feel, allowing tracks to evolve in an almost improvisatory way, which I like a lot. The album ends on a crushing doom riff, thus saving the most spectacular climactic moments until the end- where, of course, they should be.

Killing Songs :
D, K, L
Charles quoted 88 / 100
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