Aghora - Aghora
Released in 2000 on Dobles Producitons
Aghora are (on this cd):
Danishta Rivero - Vocals
Santiago Dobles - Lead Guitar/Electric Sitar
Charlie Ekendhal - Rhythm Guitar
Sean Malone - Bass/Chapman Stick/Keyboard (maybe?)
Sean Reinert - Drums
Technicality and beauty combine forces on this album, one which is atypical of most metal.
Being metal, it has the crunching guitars, fast double kick drums and wild solos, but what sets it apart from the norm is a strong Indian influence, positive spiritual attitudes, but most of all, the clasically-trained mezzo-soprano female vocals.
I've seen a few people on here who don't like the vocals, I don't know why, Danishta has a very nice voice. Maybe it's because this type of singing is not normally associated with metal, and a purist mindset emerges, hoping for growls or screams.
The music is generally heavy, not as heavy as most metal, probably on par with Gordian Knot in the heaviness department. It's a little bit prog, so along with that, the technical level is pretty high, I can't not mention all the weird time signatures used, I love that stuff.
The two Seans from Cynic offer a solid, yet complex base to work from. I guess vocals can't really be technical, but Danishta sings very well for the most part. Her brother, Santiago is quite the shredder, he does so a fair bit, yet it never goes too far. The emotions and feelings and such do shine through in his playing. Charlie is the only one who really seems to miss out on attention for his efforts, it's simply his "background" position in the band that does this, it's easy to not notice or forget about poor Charlie, but he's there all the same.
Lyrically, there is a theme attached to the songs, about a move to a higher spiritual existence, from darkness towards light. "Aghora" is an Indian sect who have this idea about forcing light to come from darkness, obviously in a spiritual sense, and this is what the band based the album on.
Enlightenment gets closer and closer as the album progresses, it is quite an uplifting listen. From an ordinary being in Immortal Bliss, to one that recognizes their full inner potential in Existence, and all the steps in between and beyond. Most songs have the spirutal lyrics, there are also two instrumentals, Jivatma and the closer Anugraha, which leave you to reflect on all the ideas covered.
I won't do a track by track... but in each song, the high points for me are:
Immortal Bliss - the first bit(chunkchunk chunk chunk chunk chunk chunkchunk)
Satya - Basslines
Transfiguration - vocal harmonies and the muted guitar line
Frames - 2:33 onwards, great singing and beautiful music (exact same as Grace by Gordian Knot, except it sounds way better here).
Mind's reality - a good all rounder.
Kali Yuga - love the weird rhythms in the middle
Jivatma - well, it's a long jam, and the first 3 minutes are good...
Existence - the lyrics mostly, good intro too, and the drum solo.
Anugraha - bluegrass and bollywood - together at last. It's feel good music, perfect closing song.
There are some low points too, not many
Frames - the vocals before 2:33 sound really wrong
Kali Yuga - the solo at the end is a bit long winded.
Jivatma - I know it represents a meditative state before Existence, but it's too long
Existence - It's a bit hard to listen to at first, it defintely grows though.
Overall, the musical flow, the performance, the sound quality, and the feeling I get from listening to Aghora is great. It's a prime example of what can be done with metal and mixing it with other styles and ideas. There are very few things I don't like on this album. Even beyond the lyrics and theme, it is an album full of positives.
Recommended starting songs for those interested: