Do You Know What Divine Intervention is? It’s Aathma’s New Album, Avesta.
For years I thought I my ancestry was mostly Norwegian, with a bit of other northern European sprinkled in the inner helix of my DNA. Last Christmas, I gave my mom an Ancestry.com DNA kit, and it turns out, somewhere in the lineage, we have 6-percent Spanish ancestry.
It now makes sense why I’ve been sniffing out some outstanding music coming from the Iberian Peninsula. It's possible this mysterious music has shaken up the Spanish nucleic acid that's been sleeping for so long, and I now feel powerful lust to make a pilgrimage to Spain to fulfill some kind of destiny. But, maybe my density… err, destiny, is to simply share these musical treasures with you, and hope the metal world finally takes recognition of these bands.
Aathma, a doom metal band from Madrid, based their fourth album Avesta on sacred texts from ancient Persia. Much of their discography is centered on religion, specifically Zoroastrianism, an primeval religion from Iran. Plus, Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios mixed their album Decline… Towers of Silence. So, Avesta looked promising even before hearing the first track.
You know how a song can take you back to the specific moment when you first heard it? I’m adding ‘Mah’, the first song on Avesta, to that list.
A few seconds later, I heard a bit of noise happening in my headphones: a rising and falling riff, drums, an electrical-wavy sound almost like a slowed lightening bolt.
I noticed I lost focus on writing.
The song keeps building, and the band starts to come together as one unit. The rising and falling continues, with a driving drumbeat. You can tell something big is about to happen, but it's unclear what that might be.
Whatever I was typing became menial. I stopped, and out loud said, “Holy shit! What is this madness?!”
And then, the opening riff entered my ears and slamming the reward pathway in my brain like a grand piano falling from a 55 story building. The dopamine hit my bloodstream, and I swear for a moment I was floating.
‘Mah' (the Moon), is a clear gift from Ahura Mazda, the only god of Zoroastrianism. I'm unclear, how in the history of humans making music, this riff has not been captured on vinyl, tape or electric medium before. It's possible Ahura Mazda rewarded Aathma with this riff, as thanks for previous work.
Throughout the album, you’ll hear clean lyrics (meaning no Cookie Monster-death metal grunts and growls), that flirt between a yell and a deep chant. It's fitting with the concept of the album as if the singer is trying to wake the ancient Zoroastrian god from a deep celestial slumber.
You’ll need to put on your premium headphones when you listen to ‘Atash’. The track has a really unique vocal structure, with a subtle vocal underneath the main singing. It's a bit dirty and muddled, but it brings a slight haunting feeling to the song.
'Ken Za' stands out as the only instrumental song on Avesta, and the lack of vocals make sense since it’s about the exorcism of demons; it certainly fits the mood. It’s very noisy, with distorted, fuzzy guitars. I have no doubt this is what it would sound like if you called a Zoroastrian priest to get Crazy Aunt Marion’s ghost out of your television.
'Hvare' is the only song on the album that has a vague Tool influence. The heavy bass at the beginning of the track, along with the bending guitar behind the vocals has a 'Sober' feel. But, the song shifts into a Kyuss-like sound that would be perfect to play as you drove through Death Valley, California. Oddly enough, it’s a sun song.
As usual, you can find Avesta on Bandcamp, and you can grace your eardrums by checking out my music collection. Actually, you should buy Aathma’s entire discography, as it only costs you $5. Seriously. Five bucks to support an independent artist. If you'd like, take a moment to connect with Aathma on Facebook by clicking here.