Why is this Singapore band not signed to a major metal label? It’s not only a mystery, it’s tantamount to a crime, because these masters of Vedic Metal, who have been active since 1992, have got to be one of the best extreme metal bands from Asia. Their new album, Eight Mahavidyas, sees them continuing to evolve even as they remain true to the basics of their craft.

RUDRA has always been deeply entwined with Hindu myths and philosophy. On this album, they examine eight female characters from the past who have fought against evil and ignorance. A lyrical subject that’s a far cry from the cliche devils, demons and zombies of Western bands. At one time, RUDRA was virtually a war metal band that blasted away at NILE like speeds, but Eight Mahavidyas sees them continuing to slow down to a more measured pace and also injecting more melody into their work. This might alienate the cultists and simple-minded, but one listen to the album shows that these songs are as power-packed and heavy as ever.

They use a lot of repetition in their riffing, creating an effect like mighty waves continuously rolling over everything in their path. The superb double bass drumming assault keeps the extremity in their music. They take the Vedic side of their music seriously and many songs feature clean chants in Sanskrit that act like mantras. These monotone chants are contrasted with the harsh growls that form RUDRA’s main vocal attack.

Opening track ‘Sanctum Sanctorum’ is a great demonstration of the slower, more crushing side or RUDRA’s tuneage….this is hypnotically heavy and deceptively simple. Even better is ‘Apprehending Through Negation’, which truly is a death metal mantra and RUDRA at their most powerful. ‘Renunciation Is Futile’ and ‘Venerating Primordial Passion’ is where melody begins to take root…it’s not going out on a limb to say these are the most melodic RUDRA tracks ever. ‘Awakened And Skyclad’ has an almost OZZY ‘Over The Mountain’ type of riffing but filtered through the band’s own vision. ‘The Sleepless Lullaby’ is the most rhythmic and obviously mantra-like song, repeating its main theme until it becomes embedded in the brain.

The last two cuts ‘Marching Against The Monarch’ and ‘Auspicious Widow’ are more traditional RUDRA songs, where speed and aggression is more pronounced but very structured. The guitar soloing throughout the album is semi-classical and Eastern in its assault.

This is just another great album from RUDRA, one that may take some getting used to, but that will expand the mind and wreck the neck. Why in the Seven Flaming Hells is this band not headlining festivals and getting on year end lists?
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality

Eight Mahavidyas
Awakening Records
5 / 6