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As the known purveyors of Total Death, VAULT OF DRIED BONES inaugurates their first complete offering with Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil (Scriptures of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder) the initiatory full-length album from Sri Lankan terrorists GENOCIDE SHRINES. The bone-dust has settled from 2012’s Devanation Monumentemples EP and the slit throats are still hemorrhaging from the Mahabharat Terror Attack split with countrymen Manifestor, but the anti-Dharmic death call has been issued once again for there are still skulls to be crushed!

A line has been drawn in the sand. Choose your allegiance carefully. For GENOCIDE SHRINES are a piercing trishul thrust into the heart of the dogmatic weakling. A burning hatred guides the striking blow at the golden tower looming overhead. There is no time for over-wrought melodies or wheel-reinventing complexity when a cleansing eradication is the modus operandi. Whether it be by spiritual fire or firing squad – the message is clear: Fall in line or suffer at the hands of the reclaimers!

The balance between black Dharmic inversion and a swift rifle-butt to the face has been struck once again. Continuing the established tradition set forth, the loose mania of previous executions has sharpened into a spear-point. Hasty formlessness echoing the peers of old has given away in favour of a militant precision and chaotic, sickening tones. Volley after volley of razor-sharp gun blasts provide rhythmic terror as a well-oiled machine hammers away. Commandments issue forth intolerance from a place of morbidity, calling for the fall of the ultimate enslaver. Truly a DEATH METAL essence has found a foothold in the ideology of the enemies of the Manushya race! Using the cultural weapons of the enemy against him, GENOCIDE SHRINES strikes at the ignorance of the blissfully unaware with a keen perspective of their own DEATH. One step ahead of the herd. All and Nothing!


Artwork by Joel Santiago.
Cassette, CD and Digital released May 2015 through Vault Of Dried Bones.
LP released December 2015 through Vault Of Dried Bones and Iron Bonehead Productions.

Ears very used to European and North American death and black metal will sometimes suffer a form of aural lethargy, leading them to seek more inventive (or at least unprocessed) cacophony.

Asian and South American bands have continuously exhibited a seemingly inherent talent for recapturing the primal essence of the most extreme of metal genres while demonstrating an awareness of contemporary trends that they often warp and re-purpose with fantastically devastating results.

Sri Lanka's Genocide Shrines left heads spinning with their 2012 EP, 'Devanation Monumentemples', which broadcast the band as serious contenders within the international black/death metal confederacy. Its blend of heads-down, no frills black/death akin to Proclamation and Witchrist garnered generally positive reviews from worthwhile sources and crafted the template for what fans hoped would eventually appear.

Ritualistic intonations open their latest expiation, 'Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil: Scriptures of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder', released via Canada's supporters of total death, Vault of Dried Bones. Layered with an undeniably Asian texture, which is both fresh and forthright in setting the tone of this excellent record, its presentation is immediate and unbridled. In an arena calloused to seemingly endless levels of down-tuning and distortion, Genocide Shrines' tone manages to surprise, being concurrently superbly sludgy yet crisp, and confoundedly heavy in the truest sense.

Incessant waves of crashing, precision percussion complement audible, layered riffing that manages to remain thoroughly aggressive throughout the release's duration. Though there is some blending in the tracks, variations in pacing supply a vigour that may astonish some within the context of such an album. Well-situated discordance, nestled among the record's slower sections, nods toward the musicianship behind what is otherwise all out blitzkrieg.

Before, between and after tracks, eastern monk type chanting, panpipes, echoing sounding bowls, hypnotic ceremonial drumming and adult film moaning encourages the band's anti-Dharmic suggestion; the usual simplicity and harmlessness of wind chimes suddenly becomes wholly ominous. Seen throughout the release's accompanying artwork, the band - bar their group photo - have eschewed the commonplace gas masks and bullet belts of their genre for more apt and aesthetically sound iconography, which adds both a maturity and thoughtfulness to affairs by lending cultural weight and consummate eeriness.

'Manipura Imperial...' is a rich presentation of militant, oppressive, sanguine, bristling black/death metal with a disposition all its own. While Genocide Shrines share the impetus and sonic realms of bands such as Wrathprayer and Daamar, comparisons to Spanish powerhouse duo Teitanblood are the most fitting (and complementary), yet the Sri Lankans are no mere copycats. This record is one of the best of 2015.

— polymer

In the humble opinion of this writer, Genocide Shrines is absolutely one of the best South Asian metal bands around now. Hailing from the sweltering jungles of Sri Lanka, Genocide Shrines unleashes a unique black-death metal hell, desecrating all false idols, stale conventions, and soulless pretenses in creation. Throughout their body of work, including the EP Devanation Monumentemples and their split with Manifestator, Maha Bharat Terror Attack, Genocide Shrines has pioneered their own trademark of brutal music and uniquely violent subject matter, mixing the harsh reality of death squads and genocide with the dark aspects of Hindu spirituality. Their latest release, Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil (Scriptures of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder), is the group's first full-length release, and it proves without a doubt that nothing is sacred in their single-minded death march towards mass genocide and universal annihilation. I now humbly present my own interpretation and take on this exciting new release.

Like Devanation Monumentemples, Manipura's swirling chaos is bracketed by impeccably placed interlude tracks (Pillars). "Pillar 1 (Deimetrical Satanic Dasayoga)" demonstrates the band's multiple talents with flutes, and features chanting and an extended audio sample taken from the writings of 18th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. Known for his deep admiration for Indian philosophy, Schopenhauer's quote discusses the nature of transcendental knowledge, its relation to this world and to the individual self. For the philosophically astute, this sample and the malevolent sound effects impeccably foreshadow what's to come on the album, providing the philosophical statement of purpose behind the carnage to come.

The three pieces between Pillars 1 and 2 throw us face first into brutality. The first song, "Militant Thrishul (Eradication Puja)," is one of the strongest tracks on the album, blasting off with a churning atmosphere, full of chugging guitars, battering drums, and howls from the deepest hell, interspersed by slower sections with hypnotic riffing. The lyrics themselves describe the start of the narrator's journey through his mass murder and yogic conquest of the universe. The album art is fittingly washed out, portraying a yogi in meditation and bedecked with skulls and holding a severed head, a true kāpālika. Below that is Genocide Shrines' trademark trishul with an AK-47, facing upside down.* Amidst the chaotic music the album art and lyrics provide subtle clues leading to the eventual conclusion, and they are important to note. The carnage continues on "Subterranean Catacomb, Termination Temple (Henotheistic Primal Demiurge)," another piece with blackened riffing punctuating the roiling death metal chaos. Absolutely crushing growls and riffing take center stage, hammering the listener into oblivion. In the album art we have a depiction of the South Asian god Śiva, providing another clue to the endgame of this album. The lyrics themselves are veiled but powerful mantras invoking supreme chaos. "Ethnoheretical Padmavyuha Consecration" starts off with a powerful forward momentum. In this song the guitar cadence in reminiscent to the works of The Ruins of Beverast, albeit still Genocide Shrines' own beast.

The second pillar, "Pillar II (Rape of the Kamadhenu)," is a great piece, with flutes and pounding drums amidst chanting and cries. The song communicates a visceral sense of discomfort, as the song title itself conveys. In Hindu religion the Kāmadhenu is a goddess fulfilling all desires, a sacred cow of prosperity. This song in particular demonstrates Genocide Shrines' gift with atmosphere, immersing you in the sweltering jungle warfare, viscerally uncomfortable as the pummeling drums pound relentlessly while the goddess is desecrated and all optimism and hope is ground into dust. The Pillar ends with a single long tinkle from a bell, centering your consciousness in preparation for the next assault.

The wholesale immersion is present in the next piece as well, "Hurl Burning Spears to Exhume the Raavanic Throne of Sivvhela Retaliation." This piece begins with an extended sample from an Indian serial adaptation of the Rāmāyaṇa, the Hindu Epic detailing the stories of the demon-king Rāvaṇa and his battles with Rāma. It's difficult to convey the uniquely immersive ambiance provided by this sample, and its perfect harmonization with the rest of the music. Genocide Shrines is a uniquely South Asian band, and excels beyond all standards of atmosphere. The rest of the song is a slow, comparatively subdued affair, with more of a Black Metal vibe, a celebration of the demon-king Rāvaṇa, the rightful king of Laṅka and enemy of the gods. The lyrics state the endgame more explicitly: "I Am DEATH, The mighty Destroyer of the World. I have come to erase all evidence of the Manushya" (human race). The bloodshed continues in the next song, "Gas.Mask.Gauthama (And other Raavanic Resurrections)." Lyrics from "Ethnoheretical Padmavyuha Consecration" are cited here, detailing the formation of the Padmavyūha, the military array, to commence the slaughter of the enemy, all the followers of the false king of this world. The last song before the final Pillar is "Aerialdishamanic Bonethrone Omega," another of the album's jewels. This piece features some excellent hypnotic riffing, and the final mantras further disclose the slaughter of the human race, as we arrive at the album's ultimate conclusion.

The final Pillar, "Pillar 3 (Triumphing of the Three Worlds)," takes us to the final conclusion, the point where the struggle ends. In Hindu mythology Śiva is known for his own conquest of the three worlds, where he destroyed the citadel of the unrighteous. Also, at the end of the cosmic eon it is Śiva who destroys the triple-world and dissolves the universe into the bindu, primordial cosmic waters. This song drives forward with epic drumming, a celebration of the final conquest as this false universe, built on Dharma and lies, is obliterated by the flaming wrath rising from the depths. The song ends and the ritual is complete.

In Hindu spirituality the god Śiva is an ambivalent Yogi god, feared for his yogic attainments and legendary tapas, and dreaded for his role as universal destroyer. From a Yogic perspective, cosmic destruction, mass murder, and yogic reversal are identical processes, microcosm and macrocosm. In the Kūrma Purāṇa it is Śiva who, at the end of the cosmic eon, "Enters the self with the self," massacres all beings, wears their bones as trophies, and implodes the universe into the bindu, transforming existence into pure essence. From this perspective, Genocide Shrines' mix of extreme violence with South Asian spiritual themes makes perfect sense, creating a uniquely powerful theme to accompany the beautifully horrific music. Genocide Shrines communicates the flaming wrath of Transcendental knowledge rising to destroy the foundations of the stale and oppressive Dharmic system, cutting the chaff and leaving only pure being.

At the end of the day however, I feel unworthy of fully describing what Genocide Shrines has achieved in this sublime work of art. The themes, atmosphere, and musical talent come together so perfectly I don't feel I can properly do it justice. All I can do is recommend this album wholeheartedly and let it speak for itself.

— Jackson / Avant-garde Metal

“Ritual” has become something of a buzzword in black and death metal these days. It’s difficult to imbue a real sense of metaphysical connection into music that often uses offerings (whether to Satan, or some Lovecraftian entity). Enter Genocide Shrines. In the realm of abyssic, cavernous death metal, Genocide Shrines invoke and subvert scripture to create a truly blasphemic offering of sonic force. This record owes a great debt to the Incantation school of death metal, and it checks all of the requisite boxes – a smattering of blastbeats, downtuned guitars, and vocals that scrape the bottom of the deepest trenches. But Genocide Shrines are somehow more than the sum of their parts. I attribute this primarily to their ideology. It’s a strange thing to discuss “ideology” in the context of metal. Too often it stems either from surface-level iterations of Satanism or Lovecraftian fantasy. Genocide Shrines avoid this pitfall by evoking the unlikely source material of Hindu mythology – a nod to their Sri Lankan heritage as well as a promise to deconstruct the altars upon which their country was built. It’s a bold move, made bolder the the framing of the album in two parts, segmented and bookended by three “Pillars”, short acoustic pieces that serve as purifying interludes.

The rest of the record, however, rages with a force and purpose that’s admirable in how laser-focused it is on this particular brand of blasphemy. There’s a tendency among chug-heavy death metal bands to mindlessly hammer away at their chords and/or kits to produce the classic “subterranean” sound, where individual notes get lost within the chaotic maelstrom of the music itself. Thankfully, Genocide Shrines avoid this pitfall via well-placed rhythmic diversions – “Subterranean Katacomb, Termination Temple (Henotheistic Primal Demiurge)” is particularly notable in this regard, with double-bass triplets that break up the segments of downtuned bludgeoning, and the slow-rolling introduction to “Hurl Burning Spears To Exhume the Raavanic Throne Of Sivvhela Retaliation” is nothing short of incredible. Instead of simply diving into the chaos, the band eases up, and settles for a more pensive opening that makes the opening riff all the more powerful. It’s this respect for the ebb and flow of their music that makes Genocide Shrines stand out among their peers. Where many would be content to plumb the depths, this band recognizes that for their message to carry weight, it requires an equally vitriolic musical component. It’s evident that just as much effort went into crafting the intricacies of these songs as went into the pseudo-mythological ideology that the band endorses.

Having grown up as a Hindu, this record had a special sort of effect on me – I’m unsure of whether it’s because of my familiarity with the belief systems in play, or because of the sheer force of the music, but I find myself truly blown away by Genocide Shrines. It’s rare that I identify on a personal level with this type of music (Satanism is less my forte than simple negative emotion), but even after several listens, I found myself unable to quit listening. It’s one of the few that really caused me to crave more. From the clear callout to Conqueror with the title of “Gas.Mask.Gauthama (And Other Raavanic Resurrections)” to the strange tabla and flute on the closing Pillar, there’s more than enough to keep even the most discerning listener engaged. Genocide Shrines balance their music and blasphemy perfectly, where other similar efforts fail by placing the latter on a pedestal.

Because of the quality of songcraft on display, this record has a great deal of sticking power, and not just because of the impressively wordy song titles. Each track has several segments that worm their way into the mind, jumping between the (thankfully) high pitched riff of “Hurl Burning Spears…” to the fifty-ton boulders that drop onto your ears in the midsection of “Ethnoheretical Padmavyuha Consecration.” This is a truly high-quality death metal record, one that would be well worth anyone’s time, provided that they have no problem with the total and unavoidable desecration of the six holy Shastras.

— Arvind / Fetid Dead