THE ASCETIC PARADOX – Pure Sri Lankan Metal
Album art. Image taken from www.twoguysmetalreviews.com

THE ASCETIC PARADOX – Pure Sri Lankan Metal

 

“The forsaken die for salvation
While the chosen reign on their thrones
When will I learn? When my soul burns?”

- An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Workshop (Track 2)

Photo from Stigmata’s facebook page

Photo from Stigmata’s facebook page

‘The Ascetic Paradox’ is the 4th full-length album to be released by Sri Lankan Heavy Metal giants ‘STIGMATA’. The band made their emergence in the early 2000’s and thus marked the advent of Extreme Metal music in Sri Lanka.  It is a common perception that Heavy Metal is a scarce genre of music in South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, but what’s ironic is that some of the most powerful metal comes from such nations where the music is sung straight from the heart, making it fierce, aggressive, passionate and cathartic. Metal music is one of the perfect ways in which to vent out sentiments of angst and oppression as well as to spread awareness about topics that are usually ignored in a smart, non-detrimental fashion, and The Ascetic Paradox stands as a testament to this. Stigmata have toured to Australia, New Zealand, India, Bangladesh, Dubai, The Maldives etc… and ‘stigmatized’ such countries with a unique brand of Pure Sri Lankan Metal.

Photo from Stigmata’s facebook page

Photo from Stigmata’s facebook page

Stigmata is:

Suresh de Silva (Lead vocals, principle lyricist),

Tennyson Napoleon (Guitars),

Andrew Obeyesekere (Guitars, backing vocals),

Lakmal Wijayagunarathna (Bass Guitar)

Roshan Taraka Senewirathne (Drums)

Though Metal music boasts a myriad of sub genres, Stigmata doesn’t really fall under any such sub category. Baila, Jazz, Funk, Blues, Flamenco, Arabic, Indian Raga and Sri Lankan classical music are idiosyncratic of Stigmata’s unique label of metal and The Ascetic Paradox stands true to this.

Traditional Sri Lankan drums used on The Ascetic Paradox. Photo credits: Eshantha Perera Photography

Traditional Sri Lankan drums used on The Ascetic Paradox. Photo credits: Eshantha Perera Photography

The Ascetic Paradox is by far Stigmata’s most diverse concoction, where the opening track ‘Our Beautiful Decay; starts off with a funk bass line followed by a barrage of jazzy sounding chords that morph into a full on maelstrom of Riffs that is inspired by Sri Lankan Classical music. A significant characteristic of this album is its percussive nature that is reminiscent of ancient Sri Lankan drum patterns and rhythms. If you thought that was cool it gets even more awesome, The Ascetic Paradox features the use of actual Sri Lankan traditional drums and a Choir! Some of these blistering drum lines are featured on tracks such as ‘Let the Wolves Come and Lick Thy Wounds’, ‘Our beautiful Decay’, ‘ Rush Through the Twilight Slithering Stream’ and ‘An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Workshop’ where the lyric video can be viewed here.

 

The album also features more straightforward tracks such as the cathartic ballad ‘Calm’ and the Blackened Melodic Thrash metal monster ‘Axioma’ which can also be heard by clicking the link below. The album also pays homage to some of the band’s main influences and sources of inspiration. Though not formally stated this can be heard on the song ‘(Still) Born Again’ which has elements that are reminiscent of the band Death and it’s late front man Chuck Schuldiner the Father of Death Metal. If one pays close attention to the chord work, melodies and vocal style used on this song they are similar to what schuldiner pioneered, which Stigmata ingenuously adds a Sri Lankan infused sonic twist over making it something far more than a simple tribute to Death. The second song that honors one of the late greats that being the legendary Dimebag Darrell of Pantera/DamagePlan is the Leviathan of a track ‘And Now We Shall Bring Them War.’ This 13:05 minute sonic mammoth is sure to break the necks of even the most seasoned headbangers with its Dime inspired grooves, gut-wrenching riffs, high flying vocals and chaotic bluesy – minor pentatonic driven solos with squeals, pulls and you name it!

Link to Video for Axioma

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ck1mmebmJ4

After a first listen, listeners may find The Ascetic Paradox to be a dissonant sounding record, but it certainly is one of those albums which requires a few listens to properly deconstruct each intricately arranged layer. Perhaps one can attribute the dissonant and contrasting sounds to the overall Paradoxical theme of the album, which is not only expressed through the album’s lyrics but through it’s sonic components as well, thus truly making this album an interactive and smart album to listen to. Since we are on the topic of lyrics, The Ascetic Paradox is really a lyrical opus extraordinaire which showcases the intricate use of juxtaposition, symbolism, metaphors, Biblical Allusions etc… to create a paradoxical atmosphere. The beauty of this album is that its lyrics paint a portrait of the machinations of life and society that we fail to acknowledge, yet contribute to at certain times unknowingly and thus tugs at one’s sinews, due to being reminded that we are the change that we wish to see. Furthermore, a common theme that can be observed in metal records is how they belt out at society and criticize detrimental socio norms which is great, but Stigmata takes it a step further by identifying that WE ARE SOCIETY and thus it’s our attitude that needs to be revamped in order to make a lasting difference, thus this revelation being ‘The Ascetic Paradox.’ I’ll leave the rest of the lyrics for you to decipher ;)

On a concluding note it should be noted that the production, mixing and mastering of this album is fantastic with credit due to Mr.Ravin Ratnam of Paragon Studios. A dogmatic statement that circulates through nations such as Sri Lanka is that we lack proper recording facilities, however albums such as The Ascetic Paradox shatter such a paradigm and prove that yes even the pearl of the Indian Ocean can produce a brutally intricate piece of world-class art.

1st Movement: Memento Mori

i) Our Beautiful Decay
ii) An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Workshop
iii) (Still) Born Again
iv) Rush Through The Twilight Slithering Stream

 2nd Movement: Sinister Divine

v) Calm
vi) Axioma
vii) Let The Wolves Come & Lick Thy Wounds
viii) And Now We Shall Bring Them War

Stigmata’s Official website can be found at:

www.stigmatasl.com

Official Facebook page link:

https://www.facebook.com/stigmatasrilanka/?fref=ts

Official YouTube Channel link:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvgkR64YLQj0BY8r2Z7oFAQ

About The Author

Amesh WH Perera – Friendly neighbourhood Sri Lankan metalhead, guitar shredding, rover, wanderer, nomad, vagabond enemy of reality. University of Melbourne, Australia class of 17, bachelor of environments represent \m/
Timber by EMSIEN 3 Ltd BG