Despite housing members from the likes of Hexvessel, Atomikylä, Darkempire and Mother Susurrus and having an output of six albums spanning a career of eight years, Finland’s Dark Buddha Rising only gained any kind of credible recognition in 2013 following the release of Dakhmandal. This wasn’t due to their previous records not being worthy of credit, however, it’s just that Dakhmandal was the first release that saw the band partnered with a major label – Svart Records, to be precise. A stunning performance at the 2012 edition of Roadburn no doubt helped a lot, and the performance was given a Live At Roadburn record release last year. Since then, things have been on the up for the band. Album number six Inversum promises big things for Dark Buddha Rising and has brought about quite a few changes already. First of all, Inversum is the band’s debut on Neurot Recordings; secondly, since the release of Dakhmandal, S. Kuosmanen (guitars) and J. Niemi (vocals) have parted ways with the band, creating space for newest additions V. Vatanen on guitars and vocals, Jussi Saarivuori (Hexvessel) on keyboards and M. Neuman on vocals.
Recorded at Wastement, a practice and recording space the band shares with fellow Finns Oranssi Pazuzu, Inversum is comprised of two 25-minute tracks, E S O and E X O. This is perhaps a loose reference to the Greek words ‘within’ and ‘without’ – a small hint at the occult themes running rampant throughout this album. Lacking the air of ambience that most bands of this ilk seem to revel in (Bong, Horse Latitudes, etc.), Dark Buddha Rising go straight for the jugular with pulsating and ominous soundscapes drenched in feedback. The air of suffocation is unyielding and, as soon as the vocals break through the heady smog, the unsettling nature of three vocalists at work is all too palpable. The broad range of barked screams, throaty whispers and creeping death rattles all hit the ear separately and from different aspects, giving the feeling that you’re being stalked, hunted and overpowered. It makes for a powerful, yet unsettling listen.
E X O is the more primitive and ritualistic of the two tracks – relying heavily upon an arsenal of samples and psychedelic effects, the atmosphere becomes thicker still. This raw sound soon gives way to a riptide of guitar and keyboard that adds a heavy yet melodic quality to the song. This dark and sultry introduction lures the listener for 15 minutes or so towards a wholly unexpected ending to the track, breaking the wall of drone and psychedelia for a brief flirtation with sludge filled stoner flurries of riffs and cymbal crashes. A chaotic end to an otherwise orderly formation of a song.
Dark Buddha Rising have come a long way in the last six years and have improved vastly with each new release. Inversum sees them grow from a five-member band to a six-piece with wonderful sonic effect. Rather than sounding as though there is too much happening, the atmospheres simply become denser, the melodies richer and the dark and torrid themes of the occult become that little bit more authentic.
Scribed by: Angela Davey