Dark Buddha Rising - The Black Trilogy   [Svart Records - 2018]

Finnish doom merchants Dark Buddha Rising burst onto the scene eleven years ago with their demo, I. This supremely limited CDr (9 copies) shows the young band firing on all cylinders, ready to unleash their heavy, sparse doom upon the world. Releasing their next three albums on their own label, Post-RBMM, Dark Buddha Rising worked quickly to establish a solid following and get their future releases put out by the likes of Svart and Neurot. Considering their first three were on limited vinyl pressings, getting major distribution is great for the metal community, as their Post-RBMM LPs have become very hard to find. And, thanks to Svart Records, their first three albums, along with their 2007 demo, are now available in a remastered, limited, seven LP box set, The Black Trilogy.

With the first LP in the set consisting of the 2007 demo, I, fans are treated to the beginning of Dark Buddha Rising's recording career right from the get go. After a brief intro that introduces the backing track, "Se Y Es" slowly makes its way forth. Showing the band's more psychedelic, fairly stoner roots, the deliberate, thick riff propels "Se Y Es" forward while heavily effected, distant vocals cascade on top. The plodding, smoky dirge continues on "Atra-Hasis," which, outside of the brief intro, is the shortest song in DBR's catalog. With the vocals moving from the muck to the fore, the stoner rock element becomes supremely apparent, and is performed very well, if not a bit standard. Things take a turn for the funky on "Nihilvana," which grooves along to the dragons of the deep like one had hit play on a Mammatus record. Highlighting their psych side more on this track, DBR add in brief hits of wacky, effect laden freakouts, which help to break up the eleven minute rock chug-a-thon. Adding some space to the instrumentation, "Dapuris" rounds out the demo with a wider approach, before crunching forth with solid riffing and a crusty aplomb.

Dark Buddha Rising's Post-RBMM output comprises the next six LPs, with each of the twelve songs getting its own album side. Despite being limited in release, these three LPs are more widespread and heard by fans. In the year between I and Ritual IX, DBR changed their approach from the crunchy, more upbeat stoner side of heavy in favor of the more grim, sludgy embrace of doom. The sluggish riffs brought forth on Ritual IX showcase the craftsmanship and attention to detail that DBR would rock the doom scene with for years to come. Almost like the missing link between stoner and doom, Ritual IX bridges the gap between a fledgling band and a grim, sonic juggernaut. And, in a glimpse of the madness and genre expanding to come, the dark, droning ambient of the final track, "Enneathan," finishes off their first release by showing DBR's varied song writing talents in grand fashion.

Riffing heavily onward, 2009's Entheomorphosis begins on a familiar note, with "Transperson I" having a very similar structure to Ritual IX's opener, "Enneargy." This isn't very alarming, as most tracks in this genre follow this structure, but it seems more apparent when consuming a few albums at a time. Still celebrating the heavy, Entheomorphosis draws on DBR's stoner/psych roots by adding a different element to the standard, low dirge of doom. This experimental side opens up new pathways and keeps the band from being pigeonholed in a grim, sludgy mire. Keeping their music fluid and engaging, Dark Buddha Rising continue to improve on their craft with their sophomore effort, Entheomorphosis.

Spending a bit more time between releases, 2011 saw Dark Buddha Rising release their third, and most crushing release to date, Abyssolute Transfinite. Bursting forth with punishing riffs, tight, head-nodding grooves, and gruff screams, the third album from DBR definitely puts the "abyss" in Abyssolute Transfinite. Leading the listener deeper like doom's very own Dante, DBR combines all their best, most challenging elements together to expand their sound into brand new territory. Thick slabs of dark sludge intermingle with sparse, almost vile, droning ambient to bring this hellish vision to life. The four tracks on Abyssolute Transfinite are most definitely the culmination of four years of hard work, commitment, and a willingness to grow.

One of the most intriguing doom bands around, Dark Buddha Rising have had a wonderful career based on growth and an undying commitment to being heavy. With their earlier, self-released albums long out of print, and an impossible to find demo, fans have to resort to streaming or bootlegs to get their fill of DBR's formative years. Thankfully, Svart Records have stepped up as curators of this excellent band, and released an extremely well done and very thorough box set of these hard to find gems. This seven LP box set is limited to only 300 copies, so fans of Dark Buddha Rising should act fast or miss a second opportunity at owning these fantastic albums.

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Paul Casey