Review Summary: Nibiru's third strike into the spiritual unknown still proves both compelling and menacing, but develops a stronger penchant for more simplistic songwriting and focus on immediacy.
When questioned in a recent interview by Metal Hammer UK about his attitudes and thoughts on the astounding and life-changing effects of music, Nibiru member Siatris replies thus: "Music is a form of freedom, a transformation of the reality around us". Unsurprising given that Nibiru also happens to be one member of a band who wallow in the deepest corners of drone, doom metal and other distinctive extreme metal sub-genres, and that the main concept for songwriting has always emanated from spiritual experience more so than reality itself. Quite an opening statement to make when asked how music has influenced one's life, but you only have to listen to the latest album by Nibiru, Padmalotus
(the name of which is incidentally an ancient symbol of Asian culture), to understand Siatris' deep thoughts. This is nothing new for the select few who have listened to Nibiru's previous efforts-that is 2013's Caosgon
and last year's Netrayoni
-but somehow, on the band's latest album, things seem a little easier to get into the first time.
This previous clause isn't necessarily a general description of the band's musical output, but it does support the fact that for Padmalotus
, Nibiru have decided to go for a more focused direction where musicianship revolves around cohesive song structures as opposed to swirling masses of psychedelia and drone. There's still plenty of the latter, of course-you only have to listen to the jarring opener "Krim" to realize that-but as you focus more and more on each particular song, it's easy to be more attentive on different parts of the same song. Let me elaborate. For instance, the first half of "Ashmadaeva" is controlled by a more or less simplistic doom metal riff, which if anything, beckons the listener to headbang and do little else. The driving force of the rhythm section-particularly Siatris' and Ardath's grinding guitar work-is simplistic enough to seem catchy, but which is also surrounded by all the elements to make for a nonetheless psychadelic overture. That's the difference however. This time around, psychadelic effects are left to boil in a natural environment, rather than being shoehorned to make the listener feel like they've had an overdose moments after the song has finished. Even the elaborate use of the didgeridoo-an instrument which somehow proves spectacular when the background ambiance kicks into gear-adds to this sense of simplicity. This same idea follows the first half of 20 minute closer "Khem", as the slight absence of overwhelming psychadelia is replaced by a more concrete selection of rumbling drum beats, rolling bass rhythms and the ever ominous guitar battery.
That's essentially what will make this album stand out from the other Nibiru releases, but as overbearing as this may sound, there are two flaws to be found in Padmalotus
which may or may not warrant further listens from those who aren't used to this musical style. For one thing, the vocals mostly seem buried in the instrumental mix, further back than the instrumentation in fact. Whilst this doesn't seem like a bad thing, it is at its worst a deviation from what's really going on. This affects the album opener as opposed to its three succeeding songs, but overall you get the impression that the vocal effects here don't really seem to matter-more importantly, they do nothing to aid the album's general progress. The harsher vocal style-when fully audible-seems utterly demonic and without any sense of melody or harmony, but thankfully for the most part are fully integrated as a sidekick to the battering rhythm section, and not as a pointless hindrance on the momentary ambient parts found halfway through "Ashmadaeva" and "Khem". The other slight flaw here is that, at the risk of sounding ignorant, the musicianship here sometimes sounds, well, lazy
. Not in the sense that the band's performance is lacking in effort or vigour, but there's a sense that these songs-especially closer "Khem"-are too long by the end. Maybe being a few minutes shorter would result in these four songs having a more cohesive instrumental unit, but at the end of the day, it will probably have little impact on whether you like it or not.
achieves exactly what Nibiru set out to do. Siatris has proved his thoughts to be utterly convincing in a compellingly live and studio environment, in that musicianship can be spiritual as well as immediate and striking to the listener. Though it is not without its inconsistencies (As said previously, this affects the album opener more than anything else), it is simply another memorable and versatile addition to Nibiru's discography, and should only be approached with a thoughtful consideration for how different extreme metal sub-genres can be fused to form one hell of an otherworldly voyage.