Bhavachakra is a band rooted in eastern theology, reflecting on the cyclical nature of existence through their unorthodox brand of black metal. On “Sri Yancha,” the first taste of the self-titled record, Bhavachakra is as technical and aggressive as they are dissonant and haunting.
Bhavachakra hits the shelves on September 23, but you can listen to “Sri Yancha” now and preorder the album through Translation Loss. After that, read guitarist/vocalist Kenneth Reda’s perspective on writing the album and theological beliefs.
Bhavachakra is meant to be cathartic music, not only in sound but in the band’s relation to eastern theological beliefs. What are those beliefs and how do they affect Bhavachakra’s music?
We live in a cyclical world and a cyclical existence. That reality is inescapably present in both the inexorable flow of time and the repeating patterns evident in the biological evolution of multicellular organisms. I would not venture far enough to call myself a practicing Buddhist by any means, I do however strive to benefit / learn from the ideas that these religious philosophies employ, primarily, that of freedom from attachment and renunciation of past / future events with an awareness purely in the present moment. According to different eastern theological beliefs we are simply in one part of a cycle of events (within a web of realities), that goes on and on forever (a concept that science seems to be aligning itself with as scientific progress is made).
The conceptual web is pretty wide, however, regarding what is encompassed thematically with the band and on this album. Cosmological elements play their part in tandem with scientific / social realities (the current dystopian state of affairs) and eastern allegorical lore. It is not only eastern theological sources but generally speaking non-dualistic philosophical doctrines that are relevant to the album. Such as James Allen’s essay on determination of will, “As a Man Thinketh” (quoted on and main subject of the track “The Diadem of Thought”), to more archaic works of stoic philosophers such as Marcus Aurelius and Seneca.
Bhavachakra is often very dissonant but also has some very frantic, grinding moments on it. How do you pace a record like that, so that it doesn’t lose its dissonance but doesn’t become repetitive?
I believe that pacing is an incredibly important aspect to music, especially if the music is dense with dynamic changes and content abound. Not simply within a song itself, but most especially when taking in the album as a whole from song to song. When I was a piano major I would study Liszt, Chopin and Beethoven piano sonatas and you learn a lot about pacing from those guys. I suppose I try and frame the architecture of a piece so things are logical and memorable and yet serve to perform unexpected functions. I aim for and enjoy the longer breathing of pieces that evolve from dynamically shifting juxtaposition material (introductions / preludes / segues) that help perpetuate the flow of logical forward movement with (hopefully) unexpected twists and turns.
The self-titled record is not very repetitive from song-to-song. Where did you consciously push the limits, if at all, on it?
As with any labor of love, there is and has been a constant revision and refinement process. Each of these songs have been worked on obsessively and have undergone subtle and sometimes dramatic changes in the process of their fruition. I was fortunate with this album in that I feel I was given time and the opportunity to really figure out what I wanted to do and the sound and direction to pursue not just with this album but with this band as a new entity and personal creative outlet in general, although it’s still evolving, this was a definite point of calibration.
Lyrically, what themes did you tackle on the album? Why did you choose those ideas to be the centerpiece of your work?
The word “Bhavachakra” itself comes from eastern theology; the name given to the depiction of a large demon holding a wheel, which represents each of the different realms of rebirth one may find themselves in, depending on their respective karma in this life cycle. It is these concepts that revolve around the lyrical themes, including eastern theology, non dualism and aspirations towards resilience amidst life on a dying planet. As odd as it may sound I suppose that in a way I subconsciously decided to have (at least some of) the songs serve as themes for myself regarding various topics, as kind of musical mantras for myself on ways to live. Everything I talk about on the album is more or less something I aspire to do more of or be more in line with in my life. Those concepts of being or striving to be free from material / emotional attachment and the like.
Bhavachakra is a two-piece band; what challenges does that present? In what ways does it make writing interesting music easier?
At the inception of this unit, we did for a long while operate as a two piece. However after recording the album the band has been brought to a 4 piece. This is the set up for a lot of my favorite metal bands such as Gorguts, Death and Krallice, and I am excited about how full things are texture wise with this set up.
As far as writing goes, writing for this band has always been a pleasure. I would more or less come to the drummer, Paul Stacks, with full songs and we would jam off them to see what drum parts sounded best. The autonomy this process afforded me much better expediency in creative production and songwriting.
Come September, Bhavachakra will have released a full-length album. What comes after that for the band?
I am about half way complete with writing the second LP, aiming to have it finished and possibly recorded by the end of this year with an early 2017 release date. Some brief touring could be a possibility if it seems logical to do so. For now my focus is on finishing the writing for the follow up to this first album. Thanks so much for checking us out.