To mind death, witness its stages and ultimately relate to the process of rot we come to know all avenues of mortality most intimate, a life-spanning preparation to navigate the pain of liminal erasure and rebirth. When maraṇasati turns to obsession among the living this spiritual rottenness builds higher mounds of the cruelest dharmic punishment, mundanity. — Uncounted and excessive droning unimportance from one lifetime to the next is the greatest knowable curse. It is yet worth the thrill of dancing upon charnel grounds without regard for the stolen bones that hit our drums, without regard for the wheel that binds us with eternity’s suffering; We are no less valuable than the corpses the vetala possesses as he churns the soil beneath us, preparing to strike. By virtue of their ritual-fed occultist sisu Finnish psychedelic droning doom/sludge metal band Dark Buddha Rising are forever additive, always bigger and wiser than the last stage or step beyond. Their seventh album ‘Mathreyata‘ represents the utmost stages of preparation and sacrificial wait, a set of pieces performed and absorbed unto their cloud of blackest psychedelia long before they were finished being put to tape. As such, the calm and collective maturity of this “intimately atmospheric” record is singular and their most weighted stabbing at tradition’s throat.

Their voice carries from as far back as 2007 and echoes from the crossroads of Laitila with increasing darkness since. If you’d ever fallen down this rabbit hole, perhaps after finding Hexvessel or Oranssi Pazuzu along the way, discovering Dark Buddha Rising and related acts (Atomikylä, Mr. Peter Hayden) offers the sense that this project was a key impetus and the “dues” that’d hone the origin whilst featuring some of the sharpest dark psychedelia induced musicians from the Turku area. Their discography is experimental, formidable and perhaps already discussed in detail enough in my review for their most recent EP (‘II‘, 2018) yet it is important to highlight two changes within the collective and one greater collective before we reach the summit of ‘Mathreyata’. First the exit of two and entrance of three circa 2013. Second, the vital addition of M. Neuman (Convocation, ex-Candy Cane) circa 2015. The topic at hand in 2015 was primarily the change felt most on their Neurot Recordings debut (‘Inversum‘, 2015) wherein a ritualistic, atmospheric sound met organic and guided improvisational breakthroughs that’d been refined into larger pieces. The cyclonic force of ‘Syntheosis‘, a cosmic horror/extreme sludge metal opera via the Waste of Space Orchestra collaboration (Oranssi Pazuzu & Dark Buddha Rising), creates a sizable rift between the meditative advance of ‘Inversum’, ‘II’ and today’s practically delayed ‘Mathreyata’ sessions. This experience does not intend to address ‘Syntheosis’ but rather reemerge without missing a step on the Dark Buddha Rising continuum.

Hold on then, what does this band even sound like? A dark psychedelic tribal-rhythmic ritual jam achieved in grandiose syncopated unison, eerie as it is heavy. This era of the band is deliberate yet patient, always intending an unsettling meditative state conducive to being intensely stoned or, unceremoniously alienated within life itself yet feeling the vibration of your belonging to the Universe all the same. No, really, what do they sound like? Most of the defining traits of the bands sound are generally singular but expect a dominant electric guitar tone, death-tuned with pure fuzz oppression and set to alternating tribal late 90’s Neurosis-era sludge and pensive space rock drumming slowed to a Zaum (alternately, Ufomammut) pace and graced with the deepest occult doom spirituality a la Saturnalia Temple. The unique expression of the band centers around very dark psychedelic doom metal, sludge heaviness, and unique rhythmic development via a “jammed” feeling. They’re not exactly Circle in terms of switching up style but rather a meaningful evolution that is shared in non-linear movement from album to album. That said, I was initially disappointed by this album by virtue of sheer impatience, wanting more of the lumbering power-chord chunking vastness of ‘II’; This this was of course in preview and before I’d taken a close enough look because “Mahatgata III” is an intentional direct continuation of the two “Mahatgata” pieces from said EP. The major appeal of this fifth Dark Buddha Rising album comes from their clever expansion of new norms introduced on their two previous albums, working each into four massive, droning-yet-engaging pieces.

Not inversion of the ‘self’ but a revitalization or serious honing of natural introversion drives us to the most thoughtful way to crack the seal of ‘Mathreyata’, a focus upon its most open eye via the rhythm section. The meter and map of these four pieces renders them separate but related through syncopation, this is where the being itself resembles the entranced “tribal” spectrum of Neurosis on the ‘Times of Grace’ and perhaps ‘A Sun That Never Sets’-era of stilted but lucid mastery although I would emphasize that we get a glimpse of this style intermittently thanks to minimalism juxtaposed with maximal sludge values. The pace itself is precisely funereal as opener and first single “Sunyaga” sprawls its doomed dirge unto cathedralesque keys and eye of the storm slow-churning riffs. The second half of this nearly 13 minute pieces is not the -most- surreal portion of the album but it sets a stone of patience, dark spirituality, and alien ritual in practice. Patience and an ear for detail will be helpful going forward, although Dark Buddha Rising are not historically challenging music (the song starts with a bong rip, duder) the effect of the music is deep inset and will take time to manifest its change upon your flesh. The slow-to-build and ever rising atmospheric sludge metal bludgeon of “Nagathma” is itself a point of evolution that now manifests in full genetic expression, a new growth that is yet of the same species or I suppose just a banging, gigantic sludge piece that we are rarely treated to. With the first half of the circle complete the greater sphere becomes easier to shape in the mind as we approach Side B, which represents a similar rise, fall, and plunge into abyssal depths.

Of course I am offering up more dramatic action than is necessary but that is the trip suggested where the cryptic onus of Side B is the creeping characterization “Uni” provides as what amounts to a seven minute introduction to the ~15 minute “Mahatgata III”. “Uni” crosses the threshold of sludge rock and tribal groove with a hint of Alchemist (Australia) in their later stages of development, that is to say that the rhythm persists with uncanny movement as the pace warms and tumbles into crashing cymbals and chaotic hits. There are much more appropriate space rock and kraut rock influenced psychedelic metal comparisons to draw here fundamentally speaking but I’d rather imply both albums from Oranssi Pazuzu and Dark Buddha Rising showcase some lessons learned from their collaboration and each benefits greatly for embracing bigger ideas. This leads us to what I’d consider the easiest piece to grasp among the four thanks to my extensive admiration for the ‘II’ EP a couple years back, with “Mahatgata III” we are finally in full view of the vibe, the droning syncopated unease that defines Dark Buddha Rising over the last thirteen or so years delivered with some fresh character, namely the shivering proclamations of Neuman, who sounds most alight within the collective. The song itself is an intuitively composed psychedelic doom metal dirge that evolves within 5-6 main states each rising to a boil every three or so minutes. As I’d familiarize myself with this song it began to clarify the significance of the album both as a continuation of the two previous efforts as a new epoch but also as a higher form beyond each, additive but still increasing in potency and weight.

What I’d felt was a test of patience to start soon became quite an easy undertaking and with each full listen of ‘Mathreyata’ each eye of the panopticon became more lucid. What felt like a drone became doomed atmosphere, what felt like meditative dirge became colossal and necessary agitation, and the peaks reached beyond those transformations did ultimately become valuable. If the measure of intent and a successful capture lies within achieving a singular, indomitable style delivered with impeccably rendered sound then this seventh Dark Buddha Rising album is a success. Art that builds upon itself for years into unmistakable distinction will inevitably surface as uniquely palatable but after sitting with the record for some time I can vividly see the broad appeal, perhaps lending itself to the droop-eyed spiritual being in a familiar-yet-effective altered state. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (85/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Svart Records
RELEASE DATE:November 13th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Psychedelic Doom Metal,
Experimental Doom Metal,
Atmospheric Sludge Metal

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