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Rudra: Brahmavidya-Transcendental I

Immense story-driven albums are all too common in this day and age, but breaking new ground with an original concept hasn't lost its appeal just yet. Take Rudra's Brahmavidya: Transcendental I, it's an hour-long opus steeped in so much ancient Hindu philosophy, it'll leave you dumbstruck. This is not the first album of its kind, though; these four Singaporeans have been around since 1992 and Transcendental I (via Trinity Records Hong Kong) marks the sixth installment of their discography. Rudra's thematic foundation are the Hindu Vedas in general and non-dualism in particular. Just what the hell non-dualism is boggles the average mind, its nuances and wordplay lying well beyond most people's grasp. In a surprising display of foresight, Rudra address our collective ignorance by explaining the Vedas and non-dualism inside the CD booklet.

One must not forget that at their core, Rudra are a death metal band marinated by the other extreme genres. Yet rather than let the brutish nature of their music take center stage, an oh-so-gentle intro titled "Bhagavadpada Namskara" opens this album with soothing acoustics accompanied by Sanskrit incantations. It drives home how firmly rooted Rudra are to their theme and starkly contrasts the relentless first song "Ravens of Paradise." However, despite its arcane attractiveness and stellar musicianship, Transcendental I remains a tough album to love. It's heavy music on a grand scale; complex, unpredictable, and riddled with exotic references and epic flourishes.

Among its 14 tracks flavored by singer Kathir's snarls, drummer Shiva's faultless work behind the kit, and the guitar wankery between axemen Devan and Selvam, three boring interludes help bracket the mind-boggling songs into convenient segments. Choosing the best from its evil-sounding tunes, "Hymns From The Blazing Chariot," "Advaitamrta," "Not The Seen but The Seer," "Natural Born Ignorance," and "Avidya Nivrtti" prove the choicest cuts for their inventive use of Sanskrit incantations, powerful choruses, progressive elements, and having enough brutality to cause brain hemorrhage. This makes it official then: Rudra's new album is 2009's most difficult listen.

Track Listing
1. Bhagavadpada Namaskara
2. Ravens of Paradise
3. Amrtasyaputra
4. Hymns From the Blazing Chariot
5. Meditations At Dawn
6. Advaitamrta
7. Natural Born Ignorance
8. Immortality Roars
9. Reversing the Currents
10. Venerable Opposites
11. Avidya Nivrtti
12. Not The Seen But The Seer
13. Adiguru Namastubhyam
14. Majestic Ashtavakra

Added: July 31st 2009
Reviewer: Miguel Blardony
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2095
Language: english

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