Dakhma – Hamkar Atonement
Dakhma are a blackened death metal duo from Switzerland, who primarily focus on the subject of Zoroastrianism, which is one of the world’s oldest active religions. Hamkar Atonement is the band’s first full-length and spans 61 minutes over 7 mind bending tracks. I have to warn any listener that this is an incredibly challenging album, but it has an extremely enlightening and fulfilling end product. In order to get the best experience from this monster I recommend isolation, burning just enough candles to add ambiance to the room, and sitting with a great pair of headphones to truly immerse yourself into the sound. This album provides a true ritual, which transports into the listener into an atmosphere filled with darkness, and insanity, here we go:
“The Glorious Fall of Ohrmazd (Hail, Death Triumphant)” really sets the tone, and atmosphere for the album. This track begins with deep, echoing chanting preparing the listener for the descent about to occur. The chanting slowly fades presenting the listener with a pretty meaty death metal riff, only to be abandoned into a wall of blast beats and screaming guitars. The song again slows into some audible rhythm riffs before moving into more chanting. The band begins the ritual with casting a hideous spell onto the listener, only to become more punishing as the album continues.
“Akhoman (Spill the Blood)” is my favorite song on the album, as it subtly brings out all the pieces that Dakhma are great at. The beginning of the song presents more rhythmic, almost hypnotic like drum beats until the wall of noise returns, however the guitar tones within the noise shift from furious black metal tremolo picking, to that high gain buzz saw death metal picking. These little shifts in tone make for an amazing sound to those who really pay attention to the rhythm. There are so many sections of this song that cause innate head banging, it is the ritual that these guys conduct coming into full effect.
Dakhma are able to utilize speed not just the wall of noise effect. A perfect example of this is “Varun (Of Unnatural Lust).” The beginning instrumentation to this track draws towards a middle eastern sound with their instrumentation but switches gears into a relentless barrage of both death and black metal style blast-beats. The synergy between these styles of metal like the other songs on the album transition almost perfectly, without the need for bridge, or chorus to change tempo.
In terms of vocals, this album has a great blend of both guttural style vocals, and harsh screams, as well as the haunting chants that seem to be placed slightly behind the instrumentation. This forms a sound as if the vocals creep from within the noise itself, which is both a terrifying and incredible technique.
The production on this album creates a pristine atmosphere. The drums come in nice and clear, which creates that dark ritualistic vibe. The guitars are perfectly distorted allowing for that fuzz to seep into the rhythm, but still audible with the changes from the high gain sound to that black metal tremolo sound. This album has to be listened to on great equipment, because without it there won’t be an opportunity to see how well Dakhma listen to detail.
Dakhma are masters in this growing craft of quasi-experimental blackened death metal. They keep tempos enjoyable, but are able to continuously torture the listener by repeatedly bludgeoning with the use of distorted noise. Someone walked by me listening to this album without headphones on and described it as “dripping sound from a cave,” and I couldn’t agree more. Dakhma are an entrance into a cavern of darkness, and pandemonium challenging the listener to move away from traditional sounds and become evolved into a noise laden trance of chaos and evil, that has been present since the dawn of time.