01 February 2020

(මහසෝනා​) – යන්ත්‍ර.මන්ත්‍ර.ගුරුකම්! (Mahasona – Demo)

To save you all the struggle of trying to translate this Sri Lankan band name, I’ll throw straight out there that the band is best referred to as “Mahasona”. That’s what the label says they should be referred to as, and that’s what I’ll go with, since i don’t speak Sri Lankan. Further to this, very little is actually known about the band. No band lineup, no faces to put to the name, and no real name to put to the band. “Mahasona” is just the recommended name, and comes from the monster that this first demo is based around.

Now, to give a little back story for those of you that like a good read, Mahasona is a Sri Lankan demon. Local mythology says its head was cut off and replaced with a boars (how very metal, eh?). Feared in Sri Lankan folklore, and regarded as their greatest demon. Most traditional rituals are aimed at exorcising the monster. Which is in stark contrast to what the bands 15 minute demo is about. This demo isn’t about exorcising the demon, it actively invites Mahasona into the human world.

A slow and nightmarish piece of music, this is not a song for people looking for chunky riffs and anthemic choruses that they can sing along to. Supposedly recorded in one take directly from the studio floor, and lacking any fine production. It is an offering of a dark and sinister drone metal soundscape. Mahasona have not set out to appease your tastes, but instead they aim to disturb and intrigue you.

The vocals are full of heavily effected grunts and groans, and really aren’t discernible as any real language. Distinctly disturbing, they are pretty much how you would imagine a demon would sound as it was dragged up from hell. Meanwhile, a distorted bassy drone and  basic drum beat underpin the song, creating a moody atmosphere. Heavily effected, sharp, and metallic sound effects provided by the guitars, add to the slow chaotic sound that has been built up. And over the course of the first 10 minutes of this song, these aspects only increase in intensity. The unnatural, and sometimes jarring, sounds really making you feel like you’re watching a horrific ritual. Possibly in a cave, with shamans and fire surrounding you.  Drums build up from a slow pounding to a thunderous roll as the bands ritual comes to a head. Mildly distorted bass adds a dark tone to the song, before the intensity dies back down, and a slow, ominous guitar and bass line finalises the ritual. However, the song does not stop here. A brief pause is introduced, before a final, clumsy bass line is played. Providing a calming end to what really is a relatively nightmarish listen.

As mentioned earlier, this isn’t a song for lovers of catchy, riff laden tunes. It’s atmospheric, and almost cinematic. You’re painted a picture through sounds alone. Unless you happen to understand Sinhalese through all the distortion. The band have created an interesting and captivating piece of music that draws you in successfully. As a result, if you’ve managed to get more than a minute into the song, chances are you’ll end up listening to it all, out of sheer curiosity. Whether you’re enjoying it or not. That Said, this is a song that is enhanced with a mild understanding of the mythology behind it. Knowing that this piece is the reverse of an exorcism, really does go along way to making it that little bit more unsettling. And a lot more interesting.

Highlights: can it really be called a highlight if i was scarred for life?

යන්ත්‍ර.මන්ත්‍ර.ගුරුකම්! is out now via Virvpi Propaganda and can be purchased here