You know culture’s getting complicated when you need a working knowledge of Eastern religions to follow the lyrics of a hardcore band. Krishna-core has its leading proponent in Shelter, a hard-hitting New York foursome with excellent chops, a fair punk-pop melodic sense in the slower songs and a bright-eyed straightedge attitude toward metaphysics, existentialism, vegetables and the hypnotic power of television. Formed after a pilgrimage to an Indian ashram in 1989 by former Youth of Today singer Ray Cappo (who also founded and sold the Revelation label, replaced it with Supersoul, has plans to launch a line of “cruelty-free sneakers” and does spoken word in his spare time), the group — which includes ex-YOT guitarist John Porcelly (now just Porcell) — is only one of several mixing reverence with rock; others include 108 and Prema.
On Mantra, Cappo’s indulge in important-sounding vagueness (“Empathize can I look through your eyes I’ll find/Different paradigms and different minds never two of a kind…I have been born in the age of thoughtlessness and I too commit the crime of living in this world considering all to be mine”), but he is an articulate and principled spokesman for transcendental thought set to a tough 4/4 beat. Still, “Message of the Bhagavat” is a mouthful, a reminder that some memories of the ’60s are eternal.