Released this month, today’s review is about nihsahshsaH, the debut full length from the eastern math/doom/prog trio, Hashshashin.
Record earlier this year and released on the powerhouse Sydney label Art as Catharsis. Like other albums through AAC, this definitely has a lineage and connection to what’s happening in the sydney scene and that label; however this album looks at space and heaviness and crushing weight through a different lens in the form of an eastern spirituality insipired journey, through the platform of mathy doomy vibes. A very skin deep interpretation could be like mixing bands like Om and secret chiefs 3, with bands like lightning bolt and other AAC artists.
Throughout the release you hear a really beautiful and inspired set of instrumentation in the realms of drums bass and guitars, violins and bouzoukis. All creating immense droning layers or chaotic eastern math rock as the situation dictates. You also hear some interesting field recordings of chants throughout the record which were apparently sourced in various Nepalese sites and monasteryes. Authenticity is in abundance here.
With the spirituality on display, you get a sense from the get-go that it’s definitely an esoteric excursion. With multiple titles and references alluding Hinduism, the concepts focus around the idea of death and rebirth, as well as striving towards the goal of personal liberation from ignorance. The way this is expressed musically just creates the most amazing soundscape.
The album is truly a quest for the freedom of the personal self. The tension found in the math parts perfectly juxtaposes the more open contemplative areas of the record. It really makes a bold effort to depict how arduous and contemplative a Purusartha towards transcendence would be.
One thing worth noting, although there are some pretty obvious things you could pick as references (SF3 and OM). Listening to the record, I was really intrigued by some of the other elements that made it into this album. Particularly on the beautiful track “Levitation”. The dynamic sensibilities used in that song and throughout the slower quieter parts are just fucking mindblowingly well crafted. Similar to how gracefully bands like Bohren and Der Club of Gore, or even Codeine, can make slow open space as equally complex as the intricate math elements.
Of course in contrast to this is the unbridled intensity found in certain tracks, the track ‘Moksha’ for example (which is one of the four fundamental Hindu traditions) features some levels of blast beat driven devastation that you’d be more likely to find in black metal or grind. You get similar sounds on the final track ‘Rebirth’. Once again existing as the balance to the aforementioned contemplative sounds and really its moment’s like this that are a good example of how well balanced, thoughtful and honestly just inspiring this record really is.
I should admit, I heard some demos from this band a while ago and when I first heard they were finally putting out a full length I jumped at the opportunity to write about it, it’s definitely my cup of tea on every level. The meticulousness and ability this band displays to conjure true sounds based in a non-western realm without sounding hokey or inorganic to its creator on a personal level (which in all honesty, some eastern inspired prog bands can do) is truly mesmerizing. Sure to be a contender for my album of the year.
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