An altered state of consciousness, is any condition which is significantly different from a normal waking beta wave state. There’s plenty of ways to achieve this, through sensory deprivation, psychotropic drugs or yoga, even by hiring the services of a thing called a derrenbrown. Someone once told me that focusing intently on the tempo of Cannibal Corpse’s specific brand of death metal, a tempo that usually spins at 200-250 beats per minute, once sent him into a trance-like state.
Finland’s Dark Buddha Rising definitely dabble a little in aural psychedelia and a lot in rhythmic mantra to achieve their altered state of mind and this fifth album of theirs, Dakhmandal, definitely proves its working for them. With tracks titles reduced to single letters (one assumes “D”, “K”, “H”, “M”, “N”, and “L” spell out the consonants of the album) and a plain album cover, there is no other artistic invasion of your own journey through the album other than the gentle shifting of their insistent, mesmeric drones.
With “D” setting the tone by slowly presenting layers deep enough to hide a planet in, from distant forest sounds and far-off, hollow ironmongery to front-of-house metronomic bass and piercing full-frontal feedback, the first, big impression is left for “K” to make. You needn’t worry because as much as it can, staying within the confines of the big concept, it makes a real spectacle of itself. Opening up with crushing bottom-end supporting dark, mysterious, incantations it moves through several phases of doom-laden crush before suddenly slacking 6 minutes in. Here, you can actually pick up the sounds of a bong being fired up – the rough clicks of a zippo, the pipe inhalations and accompanying bubbling – as the stoned vibe rolls onwards. When the vocal re-emerges, the deep chants have, understandably, been transformed into mad, half-choked, ravings in some scathing Goblin tongue.
There is no doubt that their are dark, occult forces at work here within Dark Buddha Rising’s elephantine doom-drone – think Ghost on morphine. “N” burns with a fire that threatens to overwhelm as it gently morphs around a mile-thick chant that sounds like it comes from the throats of a coven of hooded giants. Loud enough to move the earth with enough low-end to invade the sub-conscious, then vehement and wild enough to send your brain into spasms. This is music not of this world. Even when they’re playing it straight there’s a nihilistic black magic at work. “M”, for instance, is basically the sound of Depeche Mode playing over a howling gale – melancholic, down-tuned strings spiralling into and around the hungry spout of a tornado. Yet, before the rhythm can begin, you have to endure the opening horror film moments of a discordant Hammond organ. Nothing is straight-forward here and anything goes.
So Dakhmandal definitely comes with a warning. If you happen, like me, to find myself walking around the streets of your hometown, headphones in position, throwing strange hand-shapes, eyes drooping, muttering under your breath, all of which should get you some pretty strange looks, do stop listening. Dark Buddha Rising’s latest, no matter how gloriously trance-inducing it may be, is pure evil and as such it should be restricted to small amounts and is definitely for personal consumption only.
(8.5/10 John Skibeat)