The Ascetic Paradox Album Launch : A Review By Eshantha Perera

The Ascetic Paradox Album Launch : A Review By Eshantha Perera

On the 17th of October 2015, Stigmata, one of the biggest metal acts of our little island, released their newest record, The Ascetic Paradox. I have arrived back home, got the songs into my laptop, started to play it back for the fourth time, and finally sat down to writing this.

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I remember Suresh announcing the name of their upcoming record earlier on during this year, back at Rock Fest, and I remember the crowd going silent, not knowing how to react to something called “The Ascetic Paradox”. Gradually, as the year rolled by, those words became something of an early Christmas for most of us musicians and fans, and we looked impatiently towards the 17th of October. The event page came up, information started coming up, and the hype was beginning. Then a post appeared on the event page stating the unveiling of the brand new website, along with the unleashing of a single from the album named “An Idle Mind Is The Devil’s Workshop”. While we’ve seen a few of the songs from the upcoming album performed live, getting the chance to hear such a thunderous studio single started the excitement for real.

Thus began the countdown to the 17th, and like the wheels of the paradox animations on the website turning ominously, everyone started counting down days.

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Finally, the album launched arrived, and in typical Sri Lankan style, the fans and such made their way fashionably late to The British School auditorium. For myself, this has to be the first time I’ve seen such a diverse gathering of people for a metal concert of this magnitude. We saw everyone ranging from your dedicated metal heads, who’ll always be present at local gigs, to veterans of the music industry, like Menik Neydroff. There were even plenty of those from older generations, to whom Suresh jokingly referred to later on in relation to how they might be reacting towards the explosive performance they were about to be witness to.

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And now, the performance itself. I must confess that I was part of a select group of lucky individuals who had the honor of listening to the entire album before it was released, but I can quite honestly say that the experience was like having a tiny bite of an extremely delicious chocolate. The Ascetic Paradox is not one of those listen-to-once albums. It is elaborate, and thick with plot, mayhem and mystery, and it’ll take you several listens to understand, made all the more easier due to the actual music being absolutely amazing.

Stigmata arrived on stage to a lot of anticipation and excitement, and proceeded to rampage their way across the new album. The first two songs were amazing for me, possibly because they were more familiar than the others. We saw ballads coming in, courtesy of unique songs like Calm, and the pulsing riffs coming through songs like “An Idle Mind” and “Our Beautiful Decay”. We did not have the treat of seeing the amazing Soul Sounds choir opening for “Let The Wolves Come & Lick Thy Wounds”, but we still got to see the immensely talented duo of CC and Sanjeev Niles coming on stage and accompanying Suresh on the vocals for said track.

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Finally, the world stood still while Stigmata brought down war on the venue with their final track: a monster of a tribute to Dimebag Darrel. Although I used the word “finally”, it wasn’t the end though. “Andura” had to be played, along with a few more classics to keep a ravenous and adoring crowd happy, and Stigmata was more than happy to comply.

It would require me to write something of an assignment-sized article to go in-depth into the amazing album I’m listening to right now, but I can simply state that, for me, it has to be the best local metal album that I’ve listened to in my life, and one of my favorites all around. I can see myself listening to this over and over again for many years to come. Additionally, it’s also the first album handled by Ravin Ratnam, the multi-talented dude behind Paragon Studios. We’ve heard Ravin’s compositions and recordings coming through from time to time, and I was very excited to know what the new album would sound like, and it has not disappointed, not even close. It’s a phenomenal album, filled to the brim with musical genius, and topped off with blood, sweat and tears shed over 15 years of hard work.

The entirety of (literally) backbreaking labor that went into the making of the launch itself, along with the album was evident to those on the WhatsApp thread, where I saw countless people toiling day after day to make the 17th happen. It was also evident last night that Suresh was quite exhausted, despite the stellar performance that he delivered alongside the rest of the lads. As an aspiring musician, I can say that it’s been a joy and an honor to see the makings of such a groundbreaking record, and I have the utmost confidence that The Ascetic Paradox will go onto shake international audiences and garner more fans, not only for the band itself, but also the amazing metal industry we have in Sri Lanka. And now, no, I shall not be bringing anyone war, but rather, I shall head to bed with the tunes from The Ascetic Paradox ricocheting inside my head.

Missed the gig but want a copy of the album? Get in touch with Stigmata here

Review By Eshantha Perera

Photo Credits: Eshantha & The Decibel Chief.

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