Over their ten-year career, Dark Buddha Rising have taken their own (left-hand) path into progressive, ritualistic doom metal. Taking influence from Candlemass, Goatsnake and Tool in equal measure, this Finnish ensemble has developed a complex and diverse sound that ranges from restrained, mathy jams to thundering, churning waves of drone. Their appetite for source material extends to their aesthetic too, where occult symbols are overlapped and aphorisms bent to serve their users. Also present and correct is a healthy dose of psychedelia, such as on Ritual IX‘s ‘Enneathen’: “Slowly smoke fills/ The chamber of truth/Expanding the senses.” Even their Facebook bio makes for a heady read – “As the dust of centuries has settled on pages unwritten, the gates are opened only within…”
Clearly, the group are embracing doom’s infatuation with the arcane with a fondness that elevates them above those who would superficially employ the imagery. Such authenticity is admirable in our postmodern world, where ‘truth’ and ‘fact’ sometimes seem to sway like grass in the wind, and it’s refreshing too to hear a band who are flexible enough to dip in and out of different extreme styles. On their newest release, II, growling organ is married to howling blackened screams over a traditionally simplistic doom riff; a powerful impression to be sure. With this new EP sure to find its way into collections, we had to seek some higher truths from the Dark Buddhas themselves.
You’re now stalwarts of the scene and have toured with some of the biggest names in extreme metal. How does it feel to have achieved such acclaim?
When we started the band, I never thought that this would happen. The main reason for us to play music is the necessity of it and it would be enough for me to do it just for ourselves in our rehearsal place. The rest will follow if we maintain this principle and surrender to its guidance. It really doesn’t feel like an achievement, to be honest, it is more like we have been drifted.
The new EP is a terrific ride. Was it as enjoyable to record as it is to experience?
For me, the recordings of the basic tracks are a little bit stressful and I have to concentrate on my playing, and too much concentrating can lead to stupid mistakes and then we have to start the song from the beginning since we record the tracks live. After these are done, it is more about enjoying the ride and letting intuition guide you. The ambient song was really enjoyable to do, and we are very pleased with how it came to life.
Finland is one of the darkest, coldest countries on Earth, but also one of the happiest (according to surveys). How do your surroundings impact your music?
When you find a light in the darkness, it is brighter than it is in daylight. I think that living in relatively small cities removes the pressure to show off or be in some kind of scene competition over who has the most wicked sound or whatever. So I like the isolation and the freedom to do what we want. I think you can hear this in our music.
There’s clearly a lot of different influences in your sound. Could you pin down some of the fundaments?
I think we all listen to so much different music that our influences interweave into this kind of music. It’s quite hard to pin down into certain bands.
How did your relationship with Neurot come about?
Scott Kelly [of Neurosis, not the astronaut – ed.] was introduced to our music by his friend and he liked it a lot, so they invited us to join in for a few dates of their European tour in 2013. After that, they asked if we would like to join their label as well.
In past interviews, you’ve mentioned an interest in the absurd. Do you agree with Camus’ idea that we should embrace the absurd whilst searching for meaning in life?
Yes indeed, that is well said. We must embrace the absurd, but finding the meaning of life is another thing. Is there a meaning of life or existence? I think the matter and energy have a tendency to evolve and what is a living thing but the unity of these two? Can this tendency have a goal of some kind or is it just series of random events in chaos? Both seem quite absurd. And if there is a meaning to all this, one can always ask “why?” to make things complicated again.
We’re living in a time where science and empiricism are taken as read, with magic and ritual often being held in opposition. What drives your interest in the arcane?
The absurdity of existence, as we talked about in the previous question. I guess some people just think things are as they “appear” or see them through scientific lenses. For me, it is more interesting to think about things through symbolism, geometry and art. Some might say it is occult, but I’d rather leave that word out of our work. It is more about how to structure the absurd into something concrete like art. The art will appear differently for each observer and so it has become absurd again.
Your songwriting style is an eclectic blend. Could you tell us how you stitch all those riffs together?
Usually, we just think “where can we go from here?” if anywhere, then we think “how?” We have done this so long that the answer will eventually appear from somewhere. In most cases it is the simplest way to go, but the way there can be crooked.
What are your plans for the future – will it ever be time to rest on your laurels?
After the Waste of Space Orchestra project is done in Roadburn, we will finish our recordings for the next album and proceed towards releasing it. If I rest, I will think about jamming. So, no rest for the wicked.
Lastly, if you could pick one demonic entity to parley with, which would you choose and why?
Well, I don’t know about a demonic entity, but Chamunda. We would drink the blood of the demons, play the sacred mountain and watch the world drown.
II is due April 20th from Neurot. Pre-order your copy here.
Words: David Burke