Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in the Western world, which is pretty odd, considering it occurs whenever a month begins on a Sunday – it happens at least once every year with a maximum potential to occur three times in a year. In 2020, it has occurred twice. Although summarizing all the sinister happenstances that have occurred since March 2020, it looks more like we’ve been caught up in one never-ending Friday the 13th. As if to relieve us from this repeating cycle of bad karma, the Finnish psychonauts from Tampere, DARK BUDDHA RISING, took a reckless stance in the face of the seeming inevitable and released their new batch of dark incantations, entitled “Mathreyata,” via Svart Records on Friday, November 13th, 2020.
On first listening, it soon becomes crystal clear that the seventh studio album by these metal hierophants is their darkest and most crushing sonic offering to date. This time around, these Finnish underlords of psychedelic drone probe deeper into the dark, collective unconsciousness with a four-track album that clocks in at around 45 minutes. Darkness is not typically an attribute attached to Buddha, but when you really think about it, it actually makes sense. There is an inherently dark side to karma, which is one of the key concepts in Buddhism. Instead of misfortunes in life being just random bad things that happen to you, they are manifestations of something deep and fundamentally evil within you. When life hands you lemons, it is not merely a sign of having shit for luck. Instead, it is a sign of some inner darkness lurking within you. On “Mathreyata,” DARK BUDDHA RISING takes a cold, hard look into that churning, dark vortex within ourselves with harsh, kraut-rockish riff chasms and abysmal sonic atmospherics.
The opening track, “Sunyaga,” resonates with the air of a shamanic voice chanting at the edge of a yawning void, an event horizon, impatient to dive into the impenetrable darkness. The mood is somewhat akin to the shamanic trance metal of ORANSSI PAZUZU and the experimental drone of the American oddballs, SUNN O))). The signature sound of DARK BUDDHA RISING is essentially heavy and slow. You might feel tempted to think that the band’s songwriting process is inherently slow too, since their previous album, “Inversum,” was released five years ago in 2015, via the famed Neurot Records fraternity. In the past two years, the band collaborated with their kindred spirits, ORANSSI PAZUZU, under the alias WASTE OF SPACE ORCHESTRA, performing at Roadburn Festival, among other events. So all this time has not been spent summoning ancient Balrogs at the band’s Wastement home studio or “the asylum of eternal feedback” as the band reverently calls it.
“Mathreyata” is meditation music for metalheads and I would also assume that performing this music might just as well serve as an act of meditation for the band itself. The languid synth plateaus of the track “Uni” do not fall far from the ambient soundscapes of Brian Eno and I guess I must have a soft spot for this particular variety of meditative music: the mixture of harsh guitar distortion, black metal-tinted shrieks, and serenely lapping waves of synthesizer sounds. This is music that can take chilling in a hammock to a whole new level and it is equally suited for cruising down the highway in the small hours of the night. The song lengths might also tip you off that DARK BUDDHA RISING is not music to wash dishes to – unless you have a particularly meditative habit of washing your dishes by hand. The sound is immersive, what with the closing track, “Mahatgata III,” clocking in at around 15 minutes! The music demands your full attention, but on the other hand, you can easily get lost in the music for hours on end – and it’s perfect!
Written by Jani Lehtinen
- Mahatgata III
V. Ajomo – vocals, guitar
M. Neuman – vocals
J. Rämänen – drums
P. Rämänen – bass
J. Saarivuori – keyboards