Mysterious Lunar Chamber take journey toward enlightenment on wiry ‘Shambhallic Vibrations’

Photo by Marissa Godinez

Death metal hasn’t been universally known as an art form to expand your mind and find enlightenment. In fact, it’s typically known for the opposite, that being tearing apart your psyche, unloading artistic violence, and dwelling in the most negative aspects of humanity. There are exceptions to that rule (Blood Incantation, for example), and finding artists that can stretch these possibilities can be more interesting.

The arrival of mysterious newcomers Lunar Chamber ushers in more death metal that isn’t here to just splatter brutality and has loftier goals in mind. The band—guitarist/vocalist/programmer Timeworn Nexus; guitarist/vocalist They, Who May Not Be Perceived; fretless bassist Æther Lotus; drummer K. Paradis—employs a progressive style to their fury, but lyrically, they delve into typically unexplored territories by most death metal bands. “Shambhallic Vibrations,” their five-track offering is an open-ended concept piece about a person travelling to the East to find enlightenment and higher knowledge, touching upon Buddhism, Hinduism, and esoteric knowledge. That makes the music something that’s more intellectually adventurous and mentally stimulating as you go on this journey with them, feeling like your brain is transforming along the way.   

“Intro (Shambhallic Vibrations)” opens bathing in spacey synth, guitars reverberating and rupturing your nervous system, the bass bending backward into inhuman shapes, heading into “Spirit Body and the Seeing Self” that continues to agitate the strange aura. The track bursts as vicious growls spreading, and the bass triggers a sort of mental rewiring, pushing through carnage and hypnotic wonders, clean calls drizzling into the background. Guitars smear as the pace hits high gear, the soloing explodes, and immersive prog electricity races and blasts to a final mental implosion. “Interlude (Ancient Sage)” is dreamy with chiming guitars and shimmery wonders, making your mind soak in oddly warm waters.

“The Bodhi Tree” continues to unravel the tale, focusing on Gautama Buddha’s own time stretching human possibilities, the track blazing and snarling, anything but unleashing calming ground for meditation. The pace stomps hard as the bass becomes a coiled snake, wrapping itself and squeezing out life, leaving its trail behind as the playing gets more violent. The drums splatters as the leads grow, growls and shrieks challenge the mind, and the final blasts leave chest cavities heaving. Closer “III. Crystalline Blessed Light Flows… From Violet Mountains Into Lunar Chambers” ends the tale as knowledge is achieved, and the very reality we know splits into infinite realities. The band lurches and hovers, delivering mystical insanity, chant-like singing driving, intermittent breezes temporarily cooling the atmosphere. Strangeness abounds as the playing rampages but also causes your dream cycle to hit a high cylinder. Growls menace as the bass playing comes alive again, trancey soloing taking over, fiery playing leaving clouds of smoke, and more mesmerizing singing chills before disappearing into the fog.

Lunar Chamber combine their penchant for Eastern mysticism with brain-wrenching death metal expertly on their debut record “Shambhallic Vibrations,” one of the weirder records to grace us this year. I feel like my brain was leaking through my ears through the bulk of this adventure, which I mean in a good way as a challenge is something I embrace. This record won’t be a universal favorite, and it’s likely not intended to be, but for those who wish to stimulate their minds as well as their musical palate, this album and band will be revelatory experiences that will push your own artistic boundaries.

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