The idea of the “left hand path” has seen much interest and usage from the metal community. Part of this is because of its association with Satan but, more deeply, it appeals to metal because metal is married to the idea of deviation, of heterodoxy, of being “other”. Whether it actually is all of those things is a different matter and one which we’ve covered on the blog several times. However, the band we’re here to discuss today definitely meet those criteria; Vamacara, a German band whose name derives from the Sanskrit term for the left hand path “Vāmācāra”, blend stoner metal, black metal, and death metal to an immediately arresting degree. Their sole release, 2017’s Mantras for the Manifold, offers a unique, albeit brief glimpse, into the minds and sounds of a unique group. It really doesn’t sound quite like anything else, so I’m just going to send you to listen to the first track below.
So, what exactly do we have here on “Jak Damajanti Placze Po Nalu” (Jak Damajanti Placze Po Nalu)? First, the guitar tone immediately stands out at us and screams stoner metal. The resplendent feedback, the resonance of the guitars hints at smoky rooms and psychedelic influences. However, the vocals are derived straight from black metal, their abrasive, deep gutturals reminding us of Icelandic black metal and its darker grunts like on the recent Helfro album. But the riffs sing of death metal, accompanied by meaty drums and blastbeats. They don’t have that shrill and tremolo picked vibe of black metal, instead opting for more robust riffs and aggressive tempos. Further down the line, these guitars also take on a progressive quality, reminding us of a blend between those death metal vibes and early Mastodon, perhaps. The end result is both bewildering, whirling between these influences on a dime, but also incredibly cohesive, circling the core sounds of the band to maintain a sense of theme and sound.
This all blends together into one heady track and the album as a whole does not slow down. These influences keep weaving in and among each other, creating a unique sound that, to be honest, I have never quite heard in the same place. I’m sure someone will be able to find more examples of this style but the groove, agility, and aggression of Vamacara will remain unique and intact. It’s one of those albums that immediately grabs you and doesn’t let go, since nothing else quite itches the same scratch. Hopefully the band are not completely dormant and we can get some more music from them soon.