Sound — 6
Dark Buddha Rising is a Finnish doom/drone metal band. Truly underground, they have self-financed all four of their previous records, releasing them primarily on vinyl. Using Svart Records to distribute their latest album, Dark Buddha Rising have returned with an album that tests the senses and the will of the listener. With all of the songs between eleven and fifteen minutes, you've really got to pick out a good hour and a half when you're feeling just right to sit down and listen to this album, concentrating on nothing else. This album, like many others in this genre, is unique studies that must be given the utmost concentration, lest you miss a crucial detail that aids in the understanding of the album as a whole. If you are reading this review for a general opinion, I suggest that you scroll down to the "Impression" section. Here, I will give a song-by-song analysis. Before I begin, I ought to note that the name of each song is indeed one letter. "D" - The entire opening track of "Dakhmandal" is a droning track that is mostly a showcase of guitar feedback in an attempt to set a mood. From what I deduced, the mood was like that of being a snake, slithering around in a thickly shaded jungle. After listening to the succeeding tracks, I believed that my impression of the mood was incorrect. This track, like much of the album, is devoid of vocals. Aside from the ever-changing progression of guitar feedback, the other instruments constantly play the same groove, which begins a couple of minutes into the song after a slow fade in. The track ends when the swell of the feedback more or less shrouds the resolve of the groove, which quickly fades out. In my opinion, the song was almost devised as a jam meant to introduce and seduce the listener into the shape of the album. The ultimate flaw of the song, though, is that it is just a mere introduction and I don't think that it does an adequate job of preparing the listener for the next track. "K" - This song begins with a brutally heavy riff that really doesn't take the proper lead in from the previous track. The monotonously slow riff at first seems to be playing the how-low-can-I-tune-my-guitar game. After a few cycles, it leads into beautifully placed vocals that mimic the riff, saying, "All rivers flow, to the tower of science." This all somehow leads into a riff played by a single guitar. After a few cycles of this riff, the other instruments loudly converge and bang out an accompaniment to which the single guitar then proceeds to solo (I think) over. Then, with a very gentle flow, the instruments filter out except for the bass and the drums, which use an oddly tuned snare. The bass and drums continue the accompaniment, only much more lightly with the guitars sliding in and out. After a few minutes of this progression going on repeat, the vocals return, only sounding far different this time around. They seem like a man who has been thrown into a jail cell for years, screaming outside of the cell for help, solace in an unintelligible language. This sequence, which ends the song, is very eerie in the same way that the first song is; kind of like a jungle. The mostly tasteful variety on this song easily makes it my favorite on the album. "H" - This song definitely takes the award for sludgiest song on the album. For the first three minutes, an incredibly monotonous three-chord progression rotates around itself. To give you an idea, it sounds like, bummmm... bummmm... Bum ba bu bummmm... Done at a snail's pace. There are vocals present after about two and a half minutes. The vocals are really just a droning note that seems like it is being filtered through a wah pedal. If I thought it couldn't get any more monotonous, I was quickly disproven about three and a half minutes into the song when the guitars hang on a low, sludgy chord in an under-developed progression that takes droning to a new level. This progression, with some small, unimportant deviations, continues for another five minutes. Then, the second, raspy voice from the previous song returns while a single chord is held out and repeatedly hit for three minutes while the voice attempts to texture the aforementioned chord. After this, a haze of distortion sets in that lasts until the song's conclusion. My professional opinion of this song is that it should only be listened to by the most extreme listeners or else it will really be a blight on your day, as it was on mine. Since doom metal in general is a little bit outside my musical spectrum, I can't say with certainty that this song is bad, I can only warn. "M" - The intro of this song is guided solely by an organ, a pleasant change that warns the listener of the impending danger (in a good way) ahead. A haze of guitar feedback slides in and out after about two minutes and about three and half minutes into the song, the first arpeggio of the album is played. The groove that occurs after the rest of the instruments join in feels distinctly odd, almost like it doesn't belong in the album. It contains no sludge, no chug, and no brutally obvious repetition. It is actually quite beautiful. The haze of feedback becomes used as a purposeful, aimed instrument during the groove, evolving from a haze to an almost synthesizer-like feedback. While the groove certainly doesn't feel six minutes long, the next meaningful change in the song comes when it is ten and a half minutes old. At that point, a new progression starts and different vocals chant, "Self-sustained, real existence." After this incantation, an odd instrument comes in to add much-needed texture to the progression. This instrument sounds somewhere between a synthesizer and a harmonica. A halting end to the song occurs after two minutes of this. "N" - This song basically copies the third song in terms of structure except that the progressions and the buildups are slightly more interesting. A point of note in this song comes at about seven and a half minutes through when many different screams come in at once and the instruments behave as if it's the end of the song. One of the more interesting droning progressions succeeds this part and then continues in various forms to the end of the song. "L" - Next to the second song, this concluding volume was my second favorite on the album. For the first two minutes or so, the drum beat that accompanies the guitar feedback is fast, interesting, and it's time signature is beyond my ability to comprehend. The vocals that come on give a constant wail, very similar to the Islamic call to prayer. A second voice comes in, giving commands in what I think is Arabic. But, to be clear, I am not a linguist and therefore my interpretation of the language spoken may be incorrect. The only thing I know with certainty is that the language is not English. A very interesting synth piece, similar to the beginning of 2112, plays along with the voice. At the six-minute mark, the normal sludgy progression comes in and carries the song for another three minutes. At nine and a half minutes through the song, the raspy, tortured, jail voice comes back in and starts screaming over the progression. This continues until one last final chord that then fades out quickly, giving me the strange impression that this album was mixed with Audacity.
Lyrics — 9
Though the lyrics on this album numbered somewhere around ten, the vocals were the albums strongest feature. While vocals were barely used, they were extremely well placed, serving to rescue the listener from the monotonous, sludgy progressions. The different characters taken on by the vocalist, numbering three or four, added meaning to the album, though I have yet to discern it. There really isn't that much to say about the vocal performance other than that it was excellent.
Overall Impression — 7
I am happy to say that I survived this album. I don't mean that in a derogatory way, only that this album is a challenge to listen to straight through and even harder to comprehend fully. Unlike the far majority of the albums I have heard before, each song seems different on the first listen but then appears less unique on subsequent listens. This album features well-placed vocals, purposefully monotonous and sludgy guitar progressions, average drumming that goes to its peak in the last track, and many sections of guitar feedback that attempt to create a mood. For me, a mood was most successfully created with this feedback on the first song, though the second song was my favorite overall. While I will probably never listen to this album again and would like to avoid seeing this band live, it was definitely a worthy album that challenges the mind of even the most extreme listener. I thoroughly enjoyed expanding my musical horizon with this album, though I may not have always felt that way when listening to it. To end this review, I will attempt to compare this album to the best thing I can; cicadas. Cicadas are a large type of bug that appears every seventeen years on the east coast of the United States, sometimes in clusters of billions per mile. They burrow their way up from the ground, mate, lay eggs, then die, all over a period of a few weeks. Their young grow and mature underneath the ground for seventeen years before repeating this cycle. If you can imagine feeling all these cicadas hatching and burrowing up from the ground, then you can imagine this album. And all the dirt it kicks up and noise it makes. Just like a cicada.