Dakhmandal: a solid slab of droning sludge doom occult psychedelia

Dark Buddha Rising, Dakhmandal, Svart Records, SVR206CD (2 x CD) (2013)

Dark Buddha Rising: it’s an excellent name for a band that performs long doomy occult-themed sludge trance ritual music and the sinister logo with the thick lava-like letters matches the band’s intent, style and preference for staying in the shadows. These publicity-shy guys shun Facebook and other social networks and I consider myself lucky for stumbling across an earlier album of theirs on Youtube. “Dakhmandal” is the latest of DBR’s massive missives of darkly ominous and unsettling doom.

For this album, the band expanded to a quintet and five guest musicians also appear on various tracks. Disc 1, featuring three tracks labelled D, K and H, ranges from fairly soft and mellow music on D to hard-hitting repetitive loops of thick raw guitar slab, deep bass roar, shrill lead guitar drone solos and some rather strange gabbly gravel-toned Popeye vocals on K. Tension accumulates slowly, inexorably and unbearably on this long piece as the musicians conjure up the strange mystery ritual through the rhythms, the momentous pauses and the incantations. Release when it comes turns out to be no relief. Track H seems superfluous at this point but by itself is an imposing if sometimes relentlessly monotonous blunt-edged piece.

On Disc 2, also featuring just three tracks (this time labelled M, N and L), M is a mellow and quite trippy journey in inner space with woozy whirl-about space effects and less sludgey though still lumbering rhythms and melodies. The vocals can be more robotic than must have been intended originally and the music could be a bit softer and more subtle; at this point the repetition is quite hard to bear. Track N is heavy-going in its first half but explodes into a chaotic jam session later on. Final track L has a jazzy approach in combining irregular drumming, a repetitive rhythm and multi-tracked vocals shrouded in echo.

On the whole this double set is solid and consistent: some songs can be too repetitive and monotonous and in a couple of tracks the best part is saved for the second half or the last third of the piece after never-ending loops of head-bashing guitars-n-drums chunk. The general tone is very orderly, perhaps too much so for this kind of music which is supposed to promise release beyond the physical limitations of this world. There is plenty of space in the music which allows all individual instruments to be heard.

I’d have liked to hear more experimentation and improvisation throughout the album; a slightly more chaotic approach, teetering on delirium, would have suited the ritualistic nature of the music and added a transcendental element. As it is, DBR’s approach puts it in the same camp of psychedelic doom drone music as bands like Bong, Bongripper and early Electric Wizard.

Contact: Svart Records, info@svartrecords.com

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