Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dakhma - Passageways To Daena (2015)

Swiss blackened death metallers Dakhma are part of something called the Helvetic Underground Committee, which seems to be an underground religious movement dedicated to bringing back pre-Judaic belief in the form of Zoroastrianism. It seems that old Ahura Mazda's coming back after all! Although the music here definitely seems closer to that of his counterpart Angra Mainyu, which is where we eventually found the building blocks for the devil. Setting mythology aside, we have a rather interesting and quite foggy mix of progressive death metal with some black metal elements, as described.
The band is made up of just two people, with Kerberos handling everything but the drums, which H.A.T.T. manages to perform rather well. Seeing as the drumming is a huge part of the record, H.A.T.T. seems to have just as an important a job as Kerberos, especially in the atmospheric cuts which can change the nature of the band entirely and work to slowly chip away the genre tag thrown to these guys by the scribes at Metal Archives. “Ascension II” is definitely more of an atmosphere than a sort of death metal song, even making me wonder how much of it is song and how much of it is an actual ritual. Kerberos's droning mix of growls and scowls actually enrich such a performance even more, making me truly feel witness to something rather awesome and unique. They aren't attempting to be an act like Portal, Aevangelist or Teitanblood even though semblances can be drawn if one wants to look far enough. We could even compare some of the riff melodies here to something like Deathspell Omega and the hordes of other acts in the French black metal scene. The production is raw here, at times very raw – but I feel that this organic approach makes for an absolute inferno that will surely require quite a bit out of listeners.

I happened to read an older review of the disc just before I wrote this one, where the listener claimed the record was too long, but when you have a piece like “Chinvat” which requires you to sit and meditate (no death metal, or any metal to be found on that one, folks – it is a literal soundscape) such a thing can be expected. After all, this is really not a “jam album.” It doesn't really make me want to bang my head or anything similar. Instead, I feel that I am being thrown into something ancient (as I've referenced earlier) and it will require a lot more out of me than throwing up an air-guitar. This is something that nearly transcends the boundaries of music entirely, which is why I feel that it is nearly an essential listen. There are oddly enough, guitar solos in use here, but anything that I'd really consider “metal” just sort of takes a backseat to what is something that you can tell the musicians take very seriously. It's not that “Of Charred Flesh” doesn't have a fiery little guitar solo and flaming hot tremolo riffs, it's that it also contains several elements that might seem just a little out of place for a heavy metal performance. I see nothing wrong with that however, as it shows that Dakhma just want to do more. Even “The Silent Tower” takes a break for atmosphere and melody, showing that the record has much more to offer than what you might expect from the first couple of tracks. There are some rather bizarre occurences here and I hope Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu are happy with this, as I would quite be had I been of their stature. An interesting bonus feature in “Call From The Grave” also appears, which of course is a Bathory cover performed in a slightly different style than Quorthon might have intended. It still has the spirit of the original, but is a little bland as far as the lead riffs are concerned. Another bonus cut for the disc is “Ritual Of Daebaaman” which is literally half metal and half ritual, depending on where you arrive in the piece. If metal music can be used as a ritual tool for religion, then such has been demonstrated here on Passageways To Daena. It came out last year, but it's definitely worth tracking down. I'm sure Godz Of War still has some left if you're interested!

(10 Tracks, 67:00)


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