"Interestingly Vedic metal has drawn the attention of musicologists and has it has been studied by music teachers in local schools here"
As Singapore's veteran metallers Rudra announce details of their eighth album, GMA caught wind of this and decided to drag Kathir Aryaputra (lead vocalist / bassist) into our interrogation room and question about Rudra's motives, their alibi's, etc well there history, future and what 'Vedic Metal' really is about.
So guys, what's the latest news from the Rudra camp? What plans have you got for the rest of 2016?
"We have been pretty busy with the recording of the new album in the last 10 months. We hope to see that done within the next few weeks and finally have the album released in July / August. After which we should be touring and playing shows to promote the album."
You're due to drop your 8th album, can you give us an in-depth disclosure about what fans can expect and what song titles have you already got? What do they mean?
"The new album sounds to be much like in the vein of "The Aryan Crusade" and "Brahmavidya: Primordial "I. We have incorporated exotic Indian musical elements such as the tabla, sitar, classical female vocals, flute, Indian drum percussion and even the didge. We are working with reputable musicians from Singapore in order to do that.
The album is also going to be shorter than the last one with fewer but faster songs. The lyrical theme surrounds the Mandukya Karikas, which is a 1500 year old Sanskrit text about Vedic non-dualism. Every song in the album is sort of a commentary on a verse or two from the text."
As you are the pioneers of 'Vedic Metal', a truly unique and phenomenal sub-genre, could you tell us what it entails, what the future looks like for the genre and whether the genre could be used to educate listeners?
"Vedic metal is a name we coined to distinguish ourselves from the different styles of metal. While we have broadly played the generic Death and Black Metal styles, we have also infused it with carnatic ragas and other Indian folk melodies. More than that our lyrics surround the theme of Vedic philosophy and Sanskrit. This is Vedic metal to me.
The recent decade has seen a couple of bands adopting this genre and making it famous and also innovative. I truly believe that this genre could be further exploited and has great potential. Interestingly Vedic metal has drawn the attention of musicologists and has it has been studied by music teachers in local schools here. I think the future looks promising."
Christian Metal has existed for a while, so surely it's only a matter of time before Hindu Metal makes an appearance, do you guys feel that metal music can be used as a way to express religious beliefs but ironically is seen as a threat to mainstream religion?
"In my opinion metal can be used to express anything and everything. And we have seen Christian metal bands like Seventh Angel, Stryper, Mortification and Ethereal Scourge. I love these bands. But I am a little sceptical about the marriage of Extreme Metal and god loving lyrics. Certain religious ideas can be too mushy for extreme metal. I find that a great mismatch. The depiction of God or any religious belief has to match the intensity of Extreme Metal or it may end up sounding lame and cheesy. Imagine a guy screaming “God is Love” with a shrieking voice. So there has to be some kind of compatibility with the musical intensity and the lyrical content. I found the recent Stryper album to be a little too preachy and mushy, at least for me but I loved their ‘Against the Law’ album.
People do consider us Hindu Metal at times cause you can’t run away from that. But I am a pluralist and hence we have no ‘divine message’ for you except that of pluralism. Rudra is not one of those bands that uses metal as pulpit to preach its philosophy. We write about non-dualistic philosophy (advaita) from the Vedic culture, much like poetry but with intellectual honesty. To me what I write fits perfectly into Extreme Metal. The philosophy is as extreme. This is to me the hallmark of Vedic Metal which Rudra plays, that of non-dualism where dualism is systemically dissected and demolished with 'devotion'. Ha ha. "
Where does your forthcoming album sit in relation to your previous albums? Is this the strongest album you have done to date? What are your inspirations and influences for the new album?
"Like I said earlier, the album sounds a lot like "The Aryan Crusade" and "Brahmavidya: Primordial I". So it is going to be intense and heavy. It has become a cliche for bands to always call their forthcoming album their strongest. I am not going to say that. But this album is not going to disappoint our fans and fans of Extreme Metal. The new album expresses adequately the dilemma of expressing the non-dual dimensions of reality within a framework of duality. As contradictory as it may sound, this album has achieved the fine balance of serenity and tranquilly with ferocity."
Will there be a tour or at the very least an album release show? Are there any plans to tour the UK / EU?
"Yes, an album release show is definitely on the table. We would love to tour the UK / EU but we have not spoken to any promoters yet in that part of the globe. We really need to get there soon."
What is the current state of the Singapore Metal scene, is it stronger than ever? What problems over your career did you notice about the scene? (Media? Labels? Oppression?)
"No problems. We strategized our career and managed our own expectations. So we have always been happy doing this and we don't see ourselves stopping this in the near future. We will keep churning out albums as long as we can.
The Singapore Metal scene has always been consistent. Nothing much has changed. We have a small but committed scene of which we are proud of."
If metalheads visited Singapore, what tourist attractions could you recommend for people to visit? Are there also any good rock clubs / bars? Is there any social stigma to metalheads, that is are black band t-shirts band or are they tolerated?
"I have no recommendations for places in Singapore. I believe most rock clubs are dead.
We used to have that stigma of wearing black or sporting long hair etc. But to date that stigma has gone. I don't think the problem is as bad as it used to be. So all is good."
Will the album be solely released in Singapore, or have you got deals in place worldwide?
"This album will be a global release. We are currently in the midst of signing a record label for a global CD & digital release of the album. And we are also looking at releasing the album on Vinyl as well."
Finally do you have any hello's, thank you's, etc you wish to send out?
"Thanks for reading this interview."