MAENTRA "Kundalini Rising"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Brutal skull-smashing death metal created to get you in touch with the Divine Consciousness which is the Absolute...that's what MAENTRA is all about. Yes, my children, here we have death metal based on Eastern philosophies of peace and balanced living. Something akin to a Times Square hooker preaching abstinence, maybe. Well, this old world is heading to a complete blowout, so anything that can bring contentment in these trying days is worth a shot.

It's a unique concept, but make no mistake, MAENTRA is as over the top and relentless as anything from DEEDS OF FLESH or ORIGIN. Speaking of which, Paul Ryan of ORIGIN is actually a part of this band, as is Adam Houam, who performs under a bloody hood as Fermentor of GHOUL. So the pedigree is top notch. Lyrically, each song here is dedicated to a different chakra, spiritual energy centers positioned throughout the body. Get all your chakras lined up and you will attain Nirvana.

Interesting concept, but I wish the music itself matched it. The brutality can't be denied, but the songs are not terribly memorable. I was hoping for something more "cosmic" sounding, like the band MITHRAS used to do. Hell, even MORBID ANGEL could create spacy, celestial death metal now and then. MAENTRA is just a blasting jackhammer, with clacky machine gun drumming.. Each song blasts away for the first three quarters and then ends with calmer synth sounds. Sometimes there's Indian-sounding sitar music or even just heavy breathing. Last song "Sahasrara" ends with a couple of minutes of pure silence. I think there was an opportunity to integrate synth and authentic Eastern music more naturally into the metal, but MAENTRA didn't take it.

To me, the doom titans YOB seem to typify more of what I think a "meditative" heavy band should sound like. The Vedic metal of RUDRA is another band that mixes Eastern philosophy and metal very well. I can't deny the relentless aggression of MAENTRA, but the songwriting needs to develop some more. I sure wish them nothing but the best in their quest to bring balance and enlightenment to raging metalheads.