In the humble opinion of this writer, Genocide Shrines is absolutely one of the best South Asian metal bands around now. Hailing from the sweltering jungles of Sri Lanka, Genocide Shrines unleashes a unique black-death metal hell, desecrating all false idols, stale conventions, and soulless pretenses in creation. Throughout their body of work, including the EP Devanation Monumentemples and their split with Manifestator, Maha Bharat Terror Attack, Genocide Shrines has pioneered their own trademark of brutal music and uniquely violent subject matter, mixing the harsh reality of death squads and genocide with the dark aspects of Hindu spirituality. Their latest release, Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil (Scriptures of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder), is the group’s first full-length release, and it proves without a doubt that nothing is sacred in their single-minded death march towards mass genocide and universal annihilation. I now humbly present my own interpretation and take on this exciting new release.
Like Devanation Monumentemples, Manipura‘s swirling chaos is bracketed by impeccably placed interlude tracks (Pillars). “Pillar 1 (Deimetrical Satanic Dasayoga)” demonstrates the band’s multiple talents with flutes, and features chanting and an extended audio sample taken from the writings of 18th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. Known for his deep admiration for Indian philosophy, Schopenhauer’s quote discusses the nature of transcendental knowledge, its relation to this world and to the individual self. For the philosophically astute, this sample and the malevolent sound effects impeccably foreshadow what’s to come on the album, providing the philosophical statement of purpose behind the carnage to come.
The three pieces between Pillars 1 and 2 throw us face first into brutality. The first song, “Militant Thrishul (Eradication Puja),” is one of the strongest tracks on the album, blasting off with a churning atmosphere, full of chugging guitars, battering drums, and howls from the deepest hell, interspersed by slower sections with hypnotic riffing. The lyrics themselves describe the start of the narrator’s journey through his mass murder and yogic conquest of the universe. The album art is fittingly washed out, portraying a yogi in meditation and bedecked with skulls and holding a severed head, a true kāpālika. Below that is Genocide Shrines’ trademark trishul with an AK-47, facing upside down.* Amidst the chaotic music the album art and lyrics provide subtle clues leading to the eventual conclusion, and they are important to note. The carnage continues on “Subterranean Catacomb, Termination Temple (Henotheistic Primal Demiurge),” another piece with blackened riffing punctuating the roiling death metal chaos. Absolutely crushing growls and riffing take center stage, hammering the listener into oblivion. In the album art we have a depiction of the South Asian god Śiva, providing another clue to the endgame of this album. The lyrics themselves are veiled but powerful mantras invoking supreme chaos. “Ethnoheretical Padmavyuha Consecration” starts off with a powerful forward momentum. In this song the guitar cadence in reminiscent to the works of The Ruins of Beverast, albeit still Genocide Shrines’ own beast.
The second pillar, “Pillar II (Rape of the Kamadhenu),” is a great piece, with flutes and pounding drums amidst chanting and cries. The song communicates a visceral sense of discomfort, as the song title itself conveys. In Hindu religion the Kāmadhenu is a goddess fulfilling all desires, a sacred cow of prosperity. This song in particular demonstrates Genocide Shrines’ gift with atmosphere, immersing you in the sweltering jungle warfare, viscerally uncomfortable as the pummeling drums pound relentlessly while the goddess is desecrated and all optimism and hope is ground into dust. The Pillar ends with a single long tinkle from a bell, centering your consciousness in preparation for the next assault.
The wholesale immersion is present in the next piece as well, “Hurl Burning Spears to Exhume the Raavanic Throne of Sivvhela Retaliation.” This piece begins with an extended sample from an Indian serial adaptation of the Rāmāyaṇa, the Hindu Epic detailing the stories of the demon-king Rāvaṇa and his battles with Rāma. It’s difficult to convey the uniquely immersive ambiance provided by this sample, and its perfect harmonization with the rest of the music. Genocide Shrines is a uniquely South Asian band, and excels beyond all standards of atmosphere. The rest of the song is a slow, comparatively subdued affair, with more of a Black Metal vibe, a celebration of the demon-king Rāvaṇa, the rightful king of Laṅka and enemy of the gods. The lyrics state the endgame more explicitly: “I Am DEATH, The mighty Destroyer of the World. I have come to erase all evidence of the Manushya” (human race). The bloodshed continues in the next song, “Gas.Mask.Gauthama (And other Raavanic Resurrections).” Lyrics from “Ethnoheretical Padmavyuha Consecration” are cited here, detailing the formation of the Padmavyūha, the military array, to commence the slaughter of the enemy, all the followers of the false king of this world. The last song before the final Pillar is “Aerialdishamanic Bonethrone Omega,” another of the album’s jewels. This piece features some excellent hypnotic riffing, and the final mantras further disclose the slaughter of the human race, as we arrive at the album’s ultimate conclusion.
The final Pillar, “Pillar 3 (Triumphing of the Three Worlds),” takes us to the final conclusion, the point where the struggle ends. In Hindu mythology Śiva is known for his own conquest of the three worlds, where he destroyed the citadel of the unrighteous. Also, at the end of the cosmic eon it is Śiva who destroys the triple-world and dissolves the universe into the bindu, primordial cosmic waters. This song drives forward with epic drumming, a celebration of the final conquest as this false universe, built on Dharma and lies, is obliterated by the flaming wrath rising from the depths. The song ends and the ritual is complete.
In Hindu spirituality the god Śiva is an ambivalent Yogi god, feared for his yogic attainments and legendary tapas, and dreaded for his role as universal destroyer. From a Yogic perspective, cosmic destruction, mass murder, and yogic reversal are identical processes, microcosm and macrocosm. In the Kūrma Purāṇa it is Śiva who, at the end of the cosmic eon, “Enters the self with the self,” massacres all beings, wears their bones as trophies, and implodes the universe into the bindu, transforming existence into pure essence. From this perspective, Genocide Shrines’ mix of extreme violence with South Asian spiritual themes makes perfect sense, creating a uniquely powerful theme to accompany the beautifully horrific music. Genocide Shrines communicates the flaming wrath of Transcendental knowledge rising to destroy the foundations of the stale and oppressive Dharmic system, cutting the chaff and leaving only pure being.
At the end of the day however, I feel unworthy of fully describing what Genocide Shrines has achieved in this sublime work of art. The themes, atmosphere, and musical talent come together so perfectly I don’t feel I can properly do it justice. All I can do is recommend this album wholeheartedly and let it speak for itself.
*Album Cover and Layout illustrations by Joel Santiago
Release: April 18, 2015
Label: Vault Of Dried Bones
Avantgenre: Anti-Dharmic Genocidal Death
Origin: Sri Lanka
Official site: http://www.facebook.com/genocideshrines
Review online since: 02.05.2015 / 00:35:45
01 – Pillar 1 (Deimetrical Satanic Dasayoga)
02 – Militant Thrishul (Eradication Puja)
03 – Subterranean Catacomb, Termination Temple (Henotheistic Primal Demiurge)
04 – Ethnoheretical Padmavyuha Consecration
05 – Pillar II (Rape Of The Kamadhenu)
06 – Hurl Burning Spears To Exhume The Raavanic Throne Of Sivvhela Retaliation
07 – Gas.Mask.Gauthama (And Other Raavanic Resurrections)
08 – Aerialdishamanic Bonethrone Omega
09 – Pillar 3 (Triumphing Of The Three Worlds)