Sri Lankan Death Metal Cult Genocide Shrines Preach Violent Desecration on Their Latest Album
Stream the Sri Lankan occultists' new album, 'Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil (Scriptures Of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder).'
Photo courtesy of Vault of Dried Bones
“We haven’t known Sri Lanka to be without conflict,” says Chathuranga Fonseka (a.k.a. Tridenterrorcult), the mouthpiece for Colombo-based death metal squad Genocide Shrines. Though the Sri Lankan Civil War officially ended in 2009, it’s an uneasy peace that has settled over the island nation. Chathuranga grew up in a city that served as the focal point for a crippling three-decade-long war between the Sri Lankan military and the Tamil Tigers. He witnessed his hometown’s transformation into “a warzone, with barbed wired checkpoints and constant security checks,” where the threat of suicide bombings hung in the air like an unfulfilled promise. Violence was everywhere, and it bled into his art. Genocide Shrines was born in 2011, and immediately caused a stir with their debut EP, Devanation Monumentemples. Its doom-heavy death incorporated Eastern interludes and samples that saw Genocide Shrines both celebrate and desecrate their heritage, setting the stage for what would develop into fully-fledged “anti-Dharmic” metal of death over the course of two more releases.
The band’s most recent outing, a full-length entitled Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil (Scriptures Of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder)—out May 22 via Vault of Dried Bones)—is another leap forward; the production is far better, and they’ve upped their pace and intensity. “Hurl Burning Spears To Exhume The Raavanic Throne Of Sivvhela Retaliation” is the kind of huge, rumbling epic that Nile wish they could still dig up, and songs like “Aerialdishamanic Bonethrone Omega” underline the sonic similarities Genocide Shrines shares with bands like Grave Miasma, Malthusian, or, yes, Incantation, yet manage to sound fresh and inspired. The band is rounded out by drummer BlasphemousWarGoat and two newer members, Naga Yakka of Funeral In Heaven (for whom Chathuranga also does vocals) and Obliterator from Serpents Athirst, pulling together talent from every corner of Sri Lanka’s thriving extreme metal community. The album's release is a slightly complicated affair—May 22 is the new release date for the digital, cassette and CD editions, while the vinyl version will be available later this summer through Vault Of Dried Bones and Iron Bonehead Productions.
As Chathuranga noted via email, the vitality of that scene is inextricably bound to its surroundings. According to him, Sri Lanka is “an island with a magnificent cultural history and breathtaking natural beauty, blessed with a lesser number of natural disasters than our neighboring lands but cursed only with human disasters. It’s also a culture which tends to traditions deeply rooted in superstition and spirituality expanding beyond the worldly realms and into the unknown, the known, the unknowingly known and the knowingly unknown. All of this has been inhaled in, for duration of our existence; it has molded us into individuals who are known to do what we currently do.”
Chathuranga was kind enough to enlighten me further, too, so read the transcript and enjoy a full stream of Genocide Shrines’ phenomenal new full-length below.
Noisey: The new album, Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil (Scriptures Of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder), is an absolute triumph. Can you tell me a bit about how the album came together?
Chathuranga Fonseka: Much gratitude for your words. Our creative process was most certainly continuous, even by the time Devanation Monumentemples was released we have had inspiration pouring in for two new hymns which debuted during live ritual sessions in Siam and the Bharat. Myself and my comrade BlasphemousWarGoat wrote most of the material whilst [former members] Khaoshiva and Perversor contributed with their perceptions of violence in equally powerful measures. Right after the release of the debut offering, Peter from Vault of Dried Bones initiated contact and made his intentions clear: TOTAL SUPPORT FOR TOTAL DEATH. Ideas were exchanged, and the operation began. We took an auspicious six months to complete capturing the terror on record. This was with the support of various musicians who are spread out in the underworld of Sri Lankan art, old accomplices, and various other supporters of the band who assisted us with acquiring the right instruments to pore lethal doses of hate in aid of achieving the goal to complete this proclamation of audial death.
I had made a few important changes to my daily living with the intention of raavanic devotion to delve completely with murderous attentiveness and focus on the ascent. Traditions were continued as it has been done in the past during recording sessions. Mr. Obliterator from Serpents Athirst frequented these rituals to assist BlasphemousWarGoat with various elements. We went to even more extremes, pressuring ourselves to dangerous extents to maintain a complete, undivided ray of attentiveness towards the final goal. The battlefields we visited during these times were left bloody utterly desecrated by the time we were satisfied with the final output, that was until we decided that we'd missed a spot and went back to behead the final head. This was the reason why Vault of Dried Bones had to delay the record's previously announced January release date.
What did you seek to accomplish on this recording, and what did you do to ensure you achieved your goal?
This was an unmistakable cleansing ritual for us. We poured demented amounts of energy to ensure the stability of the continuity of a pounding fist of madness. To ensure the message of the absolute NOTHING, demonstrated by a desecration ritual transmitted as an audial offering. We drew breath from age old inspirations as far as the War of Art goes, ancient texts and other undocumented or unwritten texts, lurking around the street corners during late nights in Pannipitiya consuming Gold Leaf and a cup of Ceylon Tea.
The idea of violence informs everything you do with this band, from your confrontational song titles to your very stage names. What do you feel can best be achieved through violence?
Violence here should be looked at outside the connotation of negativity, geography and other related elements. This need to wreak violence might be due to the fact that we were thrown into existence into a country where the world around us which was surrounded by a full-blown racial war. This complied with growing up to learn the law of survival and the very act of retaliation, the very basic reaction, the purging and the development of one of the age old human acts of natural survival which have been programmed into all of us. To have a ritual session of undivided attention to delve into ancient humanity for just even a small period of time is something I will want to succumb to on a regular basis. The sociopolitical issues being resolved with violence is something which is drenched in our written history, and to this date continuous as traditional conditioning. In other words, this is what we are destined to know best for: complete and utter Third World bestiality in its most purest forms.
Genocide Shrines follows a strongly anti-religious, "anti-Dharmic" stance, though around the world, Buddhism, Hinduism and Eastern religions in general are often viewed as gentler and kinder than the Abrahamic variety. What is it about these religions that inspires such hatred in you? What is the darkness lurking beneath?
We focused our hate on something which traces to a very early stage of human history. This proclamation was inevitable. The creative process was aided by the fact that it was the period of time in Sri Lanka where the extremism almost equally peaked, matching an earlier date in our past during the year of 1983. I learned my stance early in my life due to a multi religious household. Filth and corruption exposed its ugly heads through various sources and events, and the closer and deeper I dived into the worldly abyss, the bigger the cracks seem to appear. The element lurking beneath the veil of the gentle religion is conservative extremism sprinkled with high doses of hypocrisy, which elevated itself to a dangerous points. This does not take away anything from the original word of the Dharma, this was an issue even before the time where it was noticed by the masses. This started to become an issue centuries before organizations such as the BBS was active, the moment elements of power seeped in through the cracks of politics and most importantly because of the corruption of the individuals who proclaim to walk the path. The truly enlightened are a fewer number today than it was yesterday. Systematic corruption of the senses commences during daily life through various sources of propaganda, thanks to this so-called modernist culture that is built on consumerism and the invasion of privacy. But as always, as ancient times, a sacrifice is needed as offering to the higher power to achieve a consistent ascension. In order for an element to survive, it has to be destroyed first. Destroy to protect, protect to preserve.
The interlude "Pillar 2 (Rape of the Kamadhenu)" is an especially unsettling composition, given your neighboring country India's problems with sexual violence. Is this song a commentary on that, or a more straightforward rejection of Hindu ideals?
This is a nod toward a specific ritual tradition, based on the tale of the provider of all desires, not at all a response to anything involving our neighbors, regardless of any terminology of the title that might suggest otherwise. The pillar concept was initiated on the foundations of three specific bases (The Thri) which are known as the cornerstones on worldly living and is a continuous presentation as with the initial release.
Does Colombo still feel like a dangerous place, or do things seem normal to you? What kind of an impact has your country's history had on your relationship with metal?
To unite against a common enemy to tend matters of survival and to thrive is something quite common throughout our human history; this concept's application does not change just because this is the Third World. Throughout our history, tales of war, treachery, demonism, spiritual possession and racial conflict dominate the pages of what has been written about our ancestry. During recent times, suicide bombings were quite frequent, considering the fact that the suicide belts amongst many other things were pioneered by some of the known terrorists here. The neighborhoods of Jaffna and the North were the initial war zones, but by the latter parts of the war, it had seeped into all the nooks and corners of the country. This didn’t affect our culture or day to day living as much as you would think, only due to the fact that the people (counting the earlier generations) have gone through and faced equally or even more horrific living situations during past conflicts. Even though things have changed significantly with the shifting of the common enemy and other elements, the filth remains the same as any other country in our region. Religious and most political corruption is running rampart. Religious extremism is fueled continuously. Conservatives do everything in their power to shift blame on external forces and the western world for its intrusions and trends alike, leaving aside of course the fact that specific areas of the Western world deserve parts of the blame for some of the fires it knowingly fueled.
I wouldn’t call it a dangerous country. Even though we are doing everything to maintain our underground operational status as a measure of necessary security, due to the fact that history seems to repeat itself in events connected to abductions, abuse or death. It’s only dangerous if you don’t get involved with anything, regardless of the nature of involvement. We were raised in lower-middle class, traditionally conservative backgrounds, and never have followeed any popular or otherwise dogmas, we always began and ended up devoting our flesh temple to the carving of the path untaken. We have been scrutinized and hunted. We are recognized in Sri Lankan society as the unorthodox, unpredictable and mostly unavoidable entities, best left alone to ascend on our own. But this is not always the case as there is always someone who is, as they say in Sri Lanka, “attempting to witness the light through another’s lamp.”
Sri Lanka has a great metal scene—bands like Funeral in Heaven, Plecto Aliquem Capite, Necrohorde, et al consistently release killer records and play gigs locally. Are there any particular challenges you'd say you face due to your location?
The only challenge we face is an unpredictable Third World economy. We used to have obstacles to do what we do like a lack of resources (overcome through various extremes of sacrifices and long term devotion), and a lack of proper technical knowledge (overcome through throwing ourselves into the process of self-learning). Our circle was small, crowds grew bigger, and waves came and went, taking a few weakling pieces of shit who gladly got swept along with them. Corruption started to seep in through the vile mainstream filth which was a festering wound we gladly got rid of, and now extreme metal dominates the local scene. There are the earlier acts who are still currently going strong, holding their ground and sticking to their guns, and it’s only natural that we feel kinship with these individuals who have been born unbowed. Some projects and individuals (Involved with metal and other forms of musical art) we feel an utmost respect towards and hold in high regards are Paranoid Earthling, Raaju and Pabalu of Thapas and Ravana Brothers fame, Old Castles Massacre, Pariah Demise, Forlorn Hope, Plecto Aliquem Capite, Manifestator, Panzer III, Nadeeka Guruge, VRPI, Serpents Athirst, Necrohorde and our counterparts from Funeral In Heaven and Fallen Grace. We are also blessed with individuals who are not involved with music but people we have met on the equilibrium of occult practices and other interests. These are individuals (ranging from all walks of life, from the highest to the lowest on the hierarchy scale) who inspire us, provide us with experiences and other forms of knowledge and stand beside us unconditionally, all which has assisted us to carve ourselves into what we are today. They will remain unnamed due to the sensitive nature of their daily living and other practices.
When will we see you desecrate a stage in Europe or the United States?
After decades of interest, we are finally plotting this in full force with our comrade Sandesh, who also handles operations at Cyclopean Eye Productions in the Bharat. The goal is to acquire enough dates in Europe (in and around the areas of Germany, Norway, France and Poland) to justify the means of preparation needed because of our location and the malfunctioning economy we are forced to go through. But the end goal is a necessity for us because it has been something we have been focusing on for quite a long while. We are currently looking at mid-2016. All confidently interested European promoters should get in touch with myself or Sandesh.
'Manipura Imperial Deathevokovil (Scriptures Of Reversed Puraana Dharmurder)' is out 5/22 via Vault of Dried Bones
Kim Kelly is keeping the peace on Twitter - @grimkim