02 Jan 2022 - Thorsten
Zoroastrian Black Metal | Eisenwald | Release date: 17 Dec 2021 | Favorite song: Atash Bahram
Dakhma is one of the myriads of projects rooted in the Helvetic Underground Committee which we already featured heavily here on VoS. Although each of these projects has its signature sound or signature story-line there is none as unique as Dakhma with its singular blend of sounds from the Middle East and the Zoroastrian background of their black metal thunders! Their new full-length Blessings Of Amurdad is yet another proof for that!
“Blessings of Immortality” - the translation of the record’s title is pretty obvious, once again the Swiss duo shows their love for Middle Eastern culture and religion, especially Zoroastrianism. The topic of the record are the jealousies between mankind and the gods, which is interesting, as it seems as if they might be a one-way-street at first as most mortals envy the everlasting life of the immortals and the accompanying loss of fear of death. However, when come to think about it – there are things that immortal might also crave: not having to watch every mortal you ever liked or loved die before your eyes. Or the possibility of ascending to heaven, which is a given for the immortals (or most of them). Or the simplicity of a life not having to think about eternal consequences.
Therefore, one can see there are possible reasons for jealousy on both sides. The lyrics are speaking of purity, of holiness, of this “conflict” between man and man-maker. They are delivered in very variable vocal styles as one can hear death metal growls, black metal shrieks, but also some of the raspy long-drawn howls that are so characteristic for doom-infused sludge. However, the thing that really sets Dakhma apart are the Middle Eastern chants as in ”Afrinagan” where the idea of a gang-shout, which is so typical for Western music, is counteracted with this highly religious chant and which is shows us that call-and-response can be something completely different.
This “interlude” is also a perfect example of the instrumentation that Dakhma uses – we hear several Middle Eastern sounding string instruments, some highly effective percussion mixed in with the regular drum kit and all of that in a perfectly woven soundscape that one would not doubt the idea of this being classical Persian music. And these instruments and sounds are also used in most songs throughout the album, where these sounds work like little oases of peacefulness or little straws which to cling to within the masterfully concocted hurricanes of blackened death metal. It is also one hell of a record when you are looking for little changes in dynamics, because drummer “Ahu Spozgar” has once again upped his game (forgive the lingo) and has found ways to remind the listener of 90s groove metal without really playing such – compare ”Oath Of Purity (Amahraspand)” which wonderfully overlaps into the final track ”The Rite Of Dominion (Shehrevar)” by means of three single magically shortly reverberating hits on a cymbal which sounds a bit like gong. And within the final track this incorporation of Zoroastrian music is taken up again.
The basis for Dakhma songs is always threefold – one the one side its blackened death metal with a knack for some really good songwriting; the second pillar is the Middle Eastern (or Zoroastrian) music which is accompanied by the specific vocals and chants; and the third and final pillar is Zoroastrianism itself with all its stories and deities with all the motives connected to this (to us mostly) unknown religion older than Christianity! And even though this all seems to say “Stay away! This is highly conceptualized music!” - it’s not! In fact it’s very good mid- to uptempo blackened death metal with a lot of kick-ass-moments. The later also being so because of a really good production by “Karapan Darvish” who is also responsible for any instrument on the record apart from drums and percussion. The production is great because the danger for such an album naturally is that one could not separate the single instruments from each other and everything becomes a noisey, undefinable mush without clear lines and edges.
In short, one must say, that Dakhma’s Blessings Of Amurdad is a late highlight for blackened music in 2021 or a very early highlight for 2022. Whatever year you are listening to, this record is a brilliant blend of its three pillars with very good songwriting and a high-quality production!