Maharaja are a three-piece describing themselves as a sludge metal band from the post-industrial wasteland of Dayton, Ohio. However, they sound to me far more stoner than sludge, as the track opener “Blood Moon” leaps in to a Fu Manchu speed style. Its fuzzed out, stripped down, dusty from days on the desert roads until the singer’s vocals suddenly go from deep throat bellows to high pitched gurgling screams. This screaming takes it in to the ball park of sludge, but the musicality of the back drop is far too intricate and less concrete wall falling on to the listener as most sludge is I find.
“Slaves to Senses” slows the pace down, and talking of senses, bassist Eric Bluebaum prides himself of bowel loosening volume at their live shows, where the sound pummels the listener in to a state of submission and ritual obedience. Well, that’s my take on his description, as that’s how I would expect them to sound. Not backward in coming forward, nit shy in drawing a line in the desert dirt, and saying ‘cross it, dare ya!’. And as the album means the age of destruction, they have appeared right on cue, Kali the destroyer of worlds.
There’s a mid-album feel of early Clutch before the couplet of final tracks “Black Magiq Carpet Ride” and “I, Undying” that allows the tunes to develop around constant driving rhythmic riffing from Angus Burkhardt’s guitars and the energetic drumming of Zack Mangold, who also happens to take vocals duties. How he can do this live, I really want to see, as his drumming is so exacting and on the button, along with a furious energy reminding me of early Cactus before Angus takes the guitars off down the corridor in search of the next amp to break!
“I, Undying” takes us to the bridge, and then ceremoniously burns the bridge so there’s no way of return, but worry not, as nothing is destroyed, energy is only transformed, and even though these worlds may be destroyed, Kali Yuga still exists in another shape or form, undying, reborn, never ending.
Self-released and available via Bandcamp. Join the party band at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.