This is an interesting release from Singaporean Vedic metal band Rudra. The first six tracks are tributes to their influences in the metal world, so there are numbers from Sepultura, Slayer, Black Sabbath, Obituary, Death, and Bathory. The final five are tracks from 2002, so around the time of “The Aryan Crusade” and “Kurukshetra”, two fine early works from this band.

Tributes work for me, where great bands place their interpretations and make good tracks better, as is the case for instance with the two volumes of “A Tribute to the Best”. This surely was going to work for Rudra, who match ferocity and intensity with intelligence in their own works. This indeed is the case. Modern sound production helps as well. Starting with “Mass Hypnosis”, the neck-snapping quality is there, but Rudra instil a marching quality and even more colour into this vibrant 1989 Sepultura track. The tempo change around 3 minutes is smoother. Kathir breathes fire but then he always does when in a studio or on stage. If he breathes fire, he and the band breathe life and definition into the Slayer song “Seasons in the Abyss”, not a personal favourite. The spoken section sounds spiritual. I was intrigued to discover how Kathir could emulate Ozzy on the Black Sabbath song “Into the Void”. In fact he does the sensible thing and instead of sounding like he’s from some distant place and of another production-free era, Kathir adopts his fieriest pose. Instrumentally, the classic riff lines are clearly defined for added enjoyment. The song is broken up and 1971 is converted into 2019. Obituary’s “The End Complete” is next. It’s recognisably hard hitting and sinister, but for me had more spirit than the original. I’m not a great Death fan and “Pull the Plug” doesn’t do a lot for me, to be honest, and is a difficult listen, but Rudra do capture its urgency, deadliness and its transformations. The cover I had most looked forward to was Bathory’s “Equimanthorn”. Disappointingly, this was the only one which didn’t capture the original black metal rawness and fire. The original was from a frozen Hell’s kitchen where this is from a recording studio. The original could wake the dead. This didn’t. It’s just a cover whereas the previous tributes are clearer and hit us in the face while capturing the spirit of the original.

And so to the tracks from 2002. “Antichrist” sounds older than the cover tracks. It’s thrashy, it’s raw in its sound, fiery of course and exciting. “Forgotten Past” also sounds like it should come from the first section of this album. It’s old school, even for 2002, and a merciless combination of black, death and thrash metal. What I don’t hear is the spirituality that you get in later albums. What you do get is warmongering and harsh and even primitive aggression. The vocals are clipped and Enthroned like. This is like a dirty journey through the times of yore. It comes together more on “Crucifixation”, the final track which blends evil, war, aggression and pulsating forcefulness.

The tributes lend themselves to Rudra, as their warmongering style suits these death and black metal classics. The throwback extends into the rapid volley of the band’s old tracks. It’s a retrospective journey but one which reflects a homage and a raw stage in Rudra’s development. All in all it’s very interesting.

(8/10 Andrew Doherty)