Long-running Singapore-based metal extremists Rudra will issue their new album, Enemy of Duality, via Transcending Obscurity on Dec. 17. It is the four-piece’s eighth full-length and first through the label, and it comprises eight tracks and 48 minutes of a vicious blend of black metal, thrash, overarching sl0w-nod-frown-face death metal groove and Eastern arrangements that they’ve long-since dubbed “vedic metal” — the heavy underground once again lapping the entire universe when it comes to self-branding. The term refers to Hindu mythology and literature — the Vedas are the oldest scriptures in Hinduism — and like a lot of blackened fare, Rudra pay homage to heritage while also basking in a modern sonic force that has become something of a spiritual exercise on its own level.
By the time they get down to the penultimate cut “Hermit in Nididhyasana,” between the sitar on opener “Abating the Firebrand” and “Slay the Demons of Duality,” Slayer-style soloing on “Acosmic Self,” blackened rasp screams, Kreator-esque riffing on “Seer of All,” chanting, blastbeating on “Root of Misapprehention,” and so on, Enemy of Duality would seem to be a work of worship on multiple levels. And that’s before they lock into to the tablas and Eastern-folkish break in nine-minute closer “Ancient Fourth,” so indeed, reverence abounds.
Listening to the flute that starts “Perception Apparent” and the scorched complexity that follows, one finds a Western parallel in what groups like Negura Bunget have brought to black metal over the years. Rudra‘s sonic balance is no less likely to tip to one side or the other — as the chants later in that same song show — but their thrashy underpinnings are an immediately distinguishing factor that stands them out within either the black or folk metal styles. It shows up largely in the guitar work of Vinod and Simon, and while bassist/vocalist Kathir keeps largely to an echo-laden rasp, drummer Shiva (fair enough the Destroyer would play drums) digs into and out of double-kick gallop with a technical fluidity that, at the time Rudra were starting out, was one of the founding principles melodeath took from both death metal and thrash.
They put it to rampaging use behind machine-gun chug and a soaring lead in “Acosmic Self” before sitar and tabla open “Root of Misapprehension” and shifts the context of Enemy of Duality once again as the second half of the album is introduced. They’ll bookend the track with the folkish arrangement, returning to a more straightforward thrust of extremity on “Seer of All,” which is fitting enough before “Hermit in Nididhyasana” and “Ancient Fourth” close out with the record’s most effective melding of influences. The former, at 6:40, hits first and moves smoothly between opening chants and Bathory-via-earlier-Enslaved progressivism, leaving a memorable impression through both its drive and the apex on which it fades back out into chanting.
As for that finale, it’s no less a stunner. East or West, it’s easy for a band working with any kind of folkish arrangement to come across as gimmicky, but on “Ancient Fourth,” and especially in its percussion-added midsection slowdown, Rudra obviously benefit from their years of experience, and one could easily apply that to Enemy of Duality as a whole. From the fullness and bite of the production through the tightness of performance and the mindfulness of their transitions, Rudra seem to heal as many wounds as they leave behind them, and as they finish out putting flute and didgeridoo over more double-kick from Shiva and slow-headbang riffing on a relatively quick fade, there seems to be very little out of the reach of their encompassing devotion.
Today I have the pleasure of hosting the premiere of “Hermit in Nididhyasana.” You’ll find it below, followed by more background from the PR wire.
‘Vedic metal’ pioneers since the early ’90s return this year with their most ambitious album to-date. Having worked hard over the years to forge a unique sound that’s a sublime blend of Indian classical music rooted in ancient spirituality and extreme metal encompassing death metal, black metal and thrash metal music, Rudra have influenced many and more importantly, have set standards. Unheralded overlords of Asia, Rudra have a cult following that remains mysteriously loyal, as they hone a sound that’s probably unparalleled.
Their latest album, again founded on the principles of Vedic spirituality, extemporizes on the conventional extreme metal template and achieves hitherto unknown sonic effects. Indian classical instruments such as sitar, flute, tablas (Indian percussion) and even a didgeridoo are used for this album, along with female vocals and ritualistic chanting to emanate a genuine, spiritual expression. ‘Enemy of Duality’ is destined to be a landmark from the Orient, one that doesn’t abandon the ancient roots and blends the traditional sounds and philosophies seamlessly into music that’s at once challenging and hypnotic.Enemy of Duality, Rudra, Rudra Enemy of Duality, Singapore, Transcending Obscurity