I refuse to call this Oriental Metal. These influences are Folk, but from a different folk.
RUDRA, named after the Vedic precursor to Shiva, is arguably the most famous Metal band hailing from Singapore, though you wouldn’t know it skimming through our archives. They formed in 1992 and have been plying Death Metal with Singapore Folk Influences, a style they’ve dubbed Vedic Metal, ever since. “Brahmavidya: Primordial I” is their fourth full length.
Don’t let the traditional drums that open “Twilight Of Duality” fool you. For most of “Brahmavidya…” we’re going to be dealing with pretty straight Death Metal, not particularly brutal nor especially melodic. You get a fair amount of solos in the expected style, which is always good to hear. The drumming, however, falls into three camps: helluva lot of snare blasts, interesting but fitting and more traditional percussion I’m sure somebody has already dubbed “tribal.” I love the latter two, but the first is so omnipresent that I wanted to scream.
I feel I need to touch on the Folk influences on “Brahmavidya….” The promotional material I’ve read really overstates the Folk. You get the very rare “Eastern” sounding guitar riff, but it’s usually run through so much Death Metal distortion that you really have to be listening to catch it as such. What RUDRA does provide more is the aforementioned traditional percussion in peripheral roles and the occasional chanting. Aside from the purely tradition and wildly out of place “Shivoham,” “The Pathless Path To The Knowable Unknown” uses the old influences to the greatest extent and even it starts off with a bland Death Metal opening.
Speaking of “The Pathless Path To The Knowable Unknown,” the lyrics are steeped in Vedic philosophy. Take this bit from the aforementioned song for example:
"It is known to him to whom it is unknown;
he to whom it is known does not know it.
It is unknown to those who know,
and known to those who know not."
Deep, man. This album is filled with such quotations.
Still, for what you can get out of the lyrics and the occasional traditional influence, the Death Metal part of RUDRA - at least 85% of the sound - is quite bland. It’s mostly stuff you’ve heard before and better. I guess the best comparison for RUDRA, since we all need them, would be NILE, MELECHESCH and BORKNAGAR, since all four are bands where the Folk/Eastern influence is greatly overstated. (Online March 3, 2006)