Dark Buddha Rising – II (2018) REVIEW

The long and dark history of psychedelic occult stoner doom sludge mystics Dark Buddha Rising began with some street noise, the bubble of several bongs, and a deftly tribal treatment of the circular doom guitar riff. Equal parts gloom and mystifying terror their debut ‘I’ in 2007 was a swirling mess of apprehensive psychedelic freakouts and powerful stoner doom riffing. The original collective shares members with neofolk masters Hexvessel as well as more recent psych-stoner rock band Atomikylä, a band that ties their pursuits with those of Oranssi Pazuzu. With members hard at work in various projects over the years Dark Buddha Rising has waned in and out of focus with varying results from album to album. In titling their latest EP ‘II’ they’ve created a buzz in my mind as I’m sent searching for connection to their beginnings, as well as some reflection on what new possibilities they bring a decade later.

At some point Dark Buddha Rising filled the void between the gaping darkness of Saturnalia Temple and the warming glow of Om and in 2009 ‘Ritual IX’ was an elaboration of that space to the point of stark raving lunacy. The project took a turn towards darker and more obscured territory with a further stripped down recording on ‘Entheomorphosis’ in 2009. Guest vocals from J. Henttonen on this middle period of the band were one extra layer of rawness on an already subtle and garbled-ass stoner record that I never warmed up to. Out of the sleep and into the greater doom ‘Abyssolute Transfinite’ was more or less a return to the style of ‘I’ but with howling sludge at the forefront and the psych-rock freakouts largely nixed outside of “Rising Dapuris”. If I were to recommend any of their earlier albums to fans of extreme doom metal it’d be ‘Abyssolute Transfinite’.

At some point I skipped out on Dark Buddha Rising as groups like Ufomammut, Horn of the Rhino, and Yob fought for that dark psych-doom mindspace, so ‘Dakhmandal’ just didn’t fit right in 2013 and I hadn’t even heard ‘Inversum’ until recently. It’s a shame that I’d circulated them out of my consciousness for a few years because I’d missed some great gains in fidelity and experimentation. I feel like ‘Dakhmandal’ explores the further extremes of their ‘sludge’ sound at their quietest and most harsh, though it represents their movement towards darker stoner doom/sludge metal far beyond their psychedelic rock beat-driven beginnings. Without realizing it I’d more or less felt what the band had intended through two phases of their career and ‘Inversum’ was an intentional shift in approach into a third more independent phase. It brought in new members, self-production, and a more jam-driven atmospheric approach. Everything integrated and focused into one moving force as the trappings of sludge melted away into ritualistic movements that felt like composed jams that allowed for improvisation. This method carries into the structure and feeling of ‘II’ as well and largely iterates on the tone, pacing and ambiance.

Hearing ‘II’ in succession with the rest of Dark Buddha Rising‘s extended discography best illustrates why the project is still worthy abuzz after (technically) six full-length releases. They’ve built upon the methodology of ‘Inversum’ with further layered vocals and a mid-paced collective motion, a step outside of sludge’s typically colliding layers, to achieve a new sort of monolithic sludge riff centered sound. This central motion is hard to describe outside of a tribal rhythmic psychedelic ritual jam achieved in grandiose unison. “Mahathgata I” the first of two movements is entirely in service of the riff and it’s heady drifts in and out of heaviness are heightened by a seeming chorus of chanteuses invoking some unknown darkness. “Mahathgata II” serves as an inverted HU chant instead invoking darkness into form through ringing guitar sustain and caterwauling voices that build from a hum to a horror of screams.

Out of context with the rest of their discography ‘II’ is a darkly psychedelic syncopation of where Dark Buddha Rising is at within their current momentum as well as a grand entry point for new listeners. They’ve found one of the more interesting and, frankly, listenable rhythmic conceptions of their three phases in ‘II’ and at just 25 minutes or so it is a digestible introduction to the bands typically long-playing releases. Highly recommend this EP especially if you’re a fan of psychedelic doom metal, sludgey stoner doom and it’s more grotesque side a la Ufomammut, Saturnalia Temple, and Bong.

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Artist Dark Buddha Rising
Type EP
Released April 20, 2018
BUY from Neurot Recordings

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Snakes and lotus-eaters. 4.0/5.0

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