Rudra: Metal from a Vedic Perspective
I have always been interested on how heavy metal is appreciated all throughout the world. Which was why I really appreciate it when there is media coverage of “world metal”, such as when the Global Metal documentary came out back in 2008, or the Al Jazeera English special on Heavy Metal in the Middle Eastern World in 2009.
One band that definitely falls into the “world metal” genre is the Singaporean band Rudra, who are a self-described “Vedic Metal” band. Their band name refers to the god Shiva in his most fearful and destructive form. In other words, much of their musical themes are influenced by the writings of the Vedas, which comprised the basis for the religion of Hinduism. I must admit that, given my background, I definitely became intrigued on how 3rd generation Indians from Singapore would incorporate elements of “Hinduism” to metal. While some may think that these type of fusion would end up sounding “gimmicky” (of which bands like Nile have been accused), I personally feel that Rudra is legitimate.
Due to their aforementioned Vedic themes, Rudra’s “blackened death metal” approach could also be compared to other extreme metal bands such as Israeli band Melechesh (who uses Mesopatamian mythology) or to a lesser extent Nile (who uses “Egyptian mythology,” albeit with the influence of H.P. Lovecraft). But what truly sets Rudra apart is the legitmate integration of India classical influences into their metal, specifically Carnatic music. Another point is that Kathir’s vocals are very distinctive and stand out in comparison to their metal peers.
The first song I ever heard from them was Aham Brahmasmi, which is one of their more relatively straight-forward songs on Brahmavidya Primordial I.
-Aham Brahmasmi (from Brahmavidya Primordial I, 2005)
Musically, a lot of their albums can be similar (although their Kurukshetra release stripped away alot of the Indian classical influences); however, they occasionally perform Carnatic hymns, as evidenced by the very soothing Shivoham. The vocalist, Aishwarya, performed the vocals and does the excellent job on the track. My mother even likes this song, and told me it reminded her of the songs that she used to hear at a Hindu temple as a child!
-Rudra – Shivoham (from Brahmavidya Primordial I, 2005)
Their newest album was released last year, equipped with a video for the song Hymns from the Blazing Chariot, which, big surprise, is a reference to the discourse that Lord Krishna gave Arjuna before the events of the Kurukshetra War (as told in the Bhagavad Gita, the sacred Hindu scripture).
-Hymns from the Blazing Chariot (from Brahmavidya Transcendental, 2009)
Rudra’s Catalog (via The Omega Order)