"Astral Mantras of Dyslexia"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Add the tropical Indian Ocean nation of Sri Lanka to the list of lands engulfed by heavy metal. This maniacal split release sees Sri Lankan bands putting their twist on metal and I have never heard anything quite like it. Running the gamut from majestic masterpieces of metallic meditation to some of the most appalling noise ever to emanate from a speaker, "Astral Mantras of Dyslexia" will appeal only to the most adventurous seeker of metal curiosities.

Funeral In Heaven is up first and this outfit begins with an amazing dark drone epic that is only marginally heavy metal. LONG and DEEP synth drones form the backdrop of this very long track, combined with the resounding "thrummm" of an electric guitar. Over this we get a lengthy jam of brilliant Eastern percussion and traditional Sri Lankan strings. This is an absolutely fantastic track to light a candle, turn off the lights and drift away with. Second cut "Bandhana" is another long one, but much more obviously black metal...very cold, droning, melodic chords, mixed with strange vocals in both spoken, rasped and shrieked forms. This is depressive black metal at its best. Final cut "Buddhang Saranang" is a tribute to an evil cult known as the Thapas and is much more doom metal...crushing and sludgy, with more insane vocal shrieks and muttering. When the pace picks up in the middle, a resemblance to Celtic Frost is obvious, but something in the construction of the track reminds one of the brooding temples of Southeast Asia.

The bizarrely named Plecto Aliquem Capite then pushes the record even more into the realm of madness with their three tracks. "Lament" is a pure sad work of traditional Sri Lankan instruments that almost weep with melancholy, combined with sobbing voices. Then "Stoned Guru Ramblings" rips the fucking lid off of sanity with one of the noisiest, messiest and downright LUNATIC songs these ears have ever heard. This is closer to Merzbow styled noise than black metal, with little structure and an all-out assault of screams, roars, shrieks, mumbles, growls and groans...all combined with a narrator talking about the virtues of mindfulness. A large part of the listening public will consider this garbage and I cannot say I blame them. "Cemetery of the Deep" features more of that berserk screaming and growling but the track is way more coherent, combining black doom metal with more Celtic Frost feel.

On the 7th cut "Crestfallen--Immolating Shakthi", both bands combine for a harsh black metal workout that leans a bit more towards Funeral In Heaven's more cohesive sound but still featuring Plecto's vocal atrocities.

This whole split is totally outside the norms of Western metal and therefore something of great interest to those not afraid to venture into exotic realms of metal and music.