Thursday, 2 July 2015

Hurling Burning Spears

Band: Genocide Shrines
Release: 'Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil: Scriptures of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder' (2015)

Ears very used to European and North American death and black metal will sometimes suffer a form of aural lethargy, leading them to seek more inventive (or at least unprocessed) cacophony.

Asian and South American bands have continuously exhibited a seemingly inherent talent for recapturing the primal essence of the most extreme of metal genres while demonstrating an awareness of contemporary trends that they often warp and re-purpose with fantastically devastating results.

Sri Lanka's Genocide Shrines left heads spinning with their 2012 EP, 'Devanation Monumentemples', which broadcast the band as serious contenders within the international black/death metal confederacy. Its blend of heads-down, no frills black/death akin to Proclamation and Witchrist garnered generally positive reviews from worthwhile sources and crafted the template for what fans hoped would eventually appear.

Ritualistic intonations open their latest expiation, 'Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil: Scriptures of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder', released via Canada's supporters of total death, Vault of Dried Bones. Layered with an undeniably Asian texture, which is both fresh and forthright in setting the tone of this excellent record, its presentation is immediate and unbridled. In an arena calloused to seemingly endless levels of down-tuning and distortion, Genocide Shrines' tone manages to surprise, being concurrently superbly sludgy yet crisp, and confoundedly heavy in the truest sense.

Incessant waves of crashing, precision percussion complement audible, layered riffing that manages to remain thoroughly aggressive throughout the release's duration. Though there is some blending in the tracks, variations in pacing supply a vigour that may astonish some within the context of such an album. Well-situated discordance, nestled among the record's slower sections, nods toward the musicianship behind what is otherwise all out blitzkrieg.

Before, between and after tracks, eastern monk type chanting, panpipes, echoing sounding bowls, hypnotic ceremonial drumming and adult film moaning encourages the band's anti-Dharmic suggestion; the usual simplicity and harmlessness of wind chimes suddenly becomes wholly ominous. Seen throughout the release's accompanying artwork, the band - bar their group photo - have eschewed the commonplace gas masks and bullet belts of their genre for more apt and aesthetically sound iconography, which adds both a maturity and thoughtfulness to affairs by lending cultural weight and consummate eeriness.

'Manipura Imperial...' is a rich presentation of militant, oppressive, sanguine, bristling black/death metal with a disposition all its own. While Genocide Shrines share the impetus and sonic realms of bands such as Wrathprayer and Daamar, comparisons to Spanish powerhouse duo Teitanblood are the most fitting (and complementary), yet the Sri Lankans are no mere copycats. This record is one of the best of 2015.

Rating: 95%

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