The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part I
2015 Iron Bonehead Productions / Necroshrine Records
As if Cult of Fire wasn't an interesting enough band (and if you're not aware of them, you need to rectify that right now), leave it to two of the three members to go off and do a potentially even more interesting side project. Tom Coroner and Infernal Vlad put together Death Karma and have to date released both an ep and this full length. As the title indicates, this is a concept album. But rather than telling a tightly knit story or having some songs loosely written around a central theme, "The History of Death & Burial Rituals Part I" instead is six vignettes about different burial ceremonies from different parts of the world in ancient times. A morbid anthropology lesson, if you will. The places visited are Slovakia, Madagascar, Mexico, the Czech Republic, India and China. Unfortunately, the lyrics and information are all printed in red on black in a small font that's just about impossible to read. But, having done some research, I can say that the overall subject does make for some fascinating reading, and the reasons behind each ceremony even moreso. In the case of India, ("India - Towers of Silence" on the album), a certain sect practices a form of "sky burial," where the bodies of the deceased are placed on a tower (called a "dakhma") and left for birds to consume. The belief is that dead bodies are unclean, and should not be put in the ground or burned. This practice ensures the body does not decay. Eventually, the bones become bleached by the sun and are placed in an ossuary within the tower where they disintegrate. For the record, this song is an instrumental. The towers are silent. But what does Death Karma sound like, you ask? I'd have to say they're like a more death metal-oriented Master's Hammer, with maybe a little of the old Greek black metal sound included for good measure. At the very least, much of the same vibe, majesty and spirit are present. According to the liner notes, this truly is going to be just the first part in this series. I look forward to hearing about other obscure rituals in the future.