Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Black Metal Krieg – Gig Review

Black Metal Krieg - India's first ever metal gig dedicated to my favourite sub genre in Metal - Black fucking Metal. I had first heard about something like this shaping up some 2 months ago when 1833 AD were on their India Tour. One of the 1833 AD guys had mentioned something about performing in Mumbai and/or Pune and making it a gig exclusive to Black Metal bands. This later took shape in the form of Black Metal Krieg at B69 in Andheri, Mumbai - where 4 black and crushing bands brought darkness blacker than hell to the city of Mumbai.

Travelling from Pune, my two friends and I were eagerly awaiting this gig like a trio of kids would wait to raid a candy shop. The 180km long journey was sweetened by the fact that we had a 20 min discussion with the band members of Dhishti - a Sri Lankan Depressive Black metal band. Being crazy admirers of the genre, we immediately got into a lengthy chat about the legends of DSBM such as Austere, Nocturnal Depression, Thy Light, Gris and others. Jayakody (vocalist) told us to be prepared for a surprise Atmospheric BM track that they would be covering. I had my guesses but what we got was something I never dreamt of. The aftermath of that performance still haunts me.

The gig went underway after 8pm and first to perform on stage were Spiked Crib from Mumbai who label themselves as Symphonic Black Metal. To be honest, I'm not a fan of this sub genre as most bands tend to forget their Black metal roots upon achieving some sort of stardom (*cough* Dimmu Borgir *cough*) What followed took my completely by surprise. They were more atmospheric than symphonic and that's something I totally dig. Special props to the vocalist, Gareth here. This guy has insane vocal chords and can belt out both DM growls as well as BM shrieks with relative ease. The keyboard player was good too. They played a good set and had to finish things off with Graveworm's cover of the Maiden classic - Fear of the Dark. I wish they hadn't, but I guess they had to do it to appease the crowd.

Dhishti was up next and I was surprised by this. I would have wished either Dhishti or 1833 AD to headline the event as these are really mature bands who can absolutely slay when given the main spot. Anyway, I had listened to the two Dhishti tracks on their myspace page at least 4-5 times before I came for the gig and thus I knew what to expect from them. However, the moment Jayakody uttered the first few shrieks, I felt goosebumps the size of little beetles crawling up my skin. I couldn't click a single pic for at least 5 minutes as it took me that long to recover from what I had just witnessed. Their originals are at par with most of the DSBM that I listen to and they're the best band I've seen live. At the beginning of their set, most of the crowd was either making fun of their corpse paint or of DSBM as a whole. I wish I could use Jayakody's spikes to pierce their sorry dicks, but as they were halfway into their first track, those asswipes realised (or didn't) what hit them like a freight train. Next, it was time for their cover and I missed a heartbeat when I heard the word 'Dunkelheit'. I don't think I've ever been happier in my life and it was weird because an hour later, this feeling was bettered. More on that later. Kunal Gonsalves from Stark Denial joined in for dual vocals on Dunkelheit and I really do not remember anything after that other than being in a state of trance and not remembering where I was. The last track was almost brutal black metal in the vein of Marduk and my neck's still complaining from the ordeal. I wish their set would never end, but I'm so damn glad that I was a part of this great experience.

1833 AD from Delhi were next to follow and I had been dying to watch them ever since I found out about them 6-7 months ago. Their Facebook page had mentioned that they would be covering a few Black metal classics but nobody expected 4 covers and a 75 minute setlist! Nishant Abraham (vocalist) is a very good Black metal vocalist and even though he admits to not being much of a talker, his vocals kill you with in an eerie manner. His vocals are very Abbath-like and Shashank Sagar on drums is an Indian Hellhammer (although he looks like Mikael Akerfeldt) I have been digging their originals such as Inheritance Evil and Who Killed The Emperor on their Myspace page and found it even better hearing them live. After playing Immortal, Dark Funeral and Ancient covers, I thought they were done. But surprise o surprise! Nishant asked us to yell Mayhem as loud as we could. I couldn't yell. I was dumbstruck. My heart was screaming out 'Freezing Moon' but my mouth couldn't catch up. Nishant did that for me and when said those words, I threw away my camera and equipment in my friend's hands and went on to become one with the music. Freezing Moon is my favourite track across all genres and I never thought I would ever get to witness it live. My lungs and my throat were strangers to me and singing along to Freezing Moon was THE best experience of my life. They didn't miss one note and even if they did, I could care less. 1833 AD is by far the best Black Metal band in India (of the handful that we have) and other bands should look up to them for inspiration and creativity. They closed their set with Who Killed The Emperor and it is my favourite Indian BM track. I can't wait for their debut album to be out. Nishant, Sushmit, Rahul, and Shashank - if you're reading this, we need an album like right now!

Stark Denial, the local boys, were the last band to perform and to be honest I had no mental or physical energy left to fathom what was going on. Kunal is a good vocalist and the band is pretty tight but I would like them to step up their game a bit. Having said that, their originals are pretty good and if they didn't have such tough acts to follow, they would have sounded killer. They covered Immortal's Damned in Black and also followed it up with a BM version of Slayer's Raining Blood with Jimmy from Zygnema brining his growls to make it a Blackened Death metal version of the Slayer classic. Also joining them was Shehzad from Sceptre. As with Fear of the dark, I understand that this was done to please the people who aren't really accustomed to listening actual Black metal tracks and I was okay with it.

The gig ended at 12.15 am and we reached Pune at 4 am. Spent more than a grand, yet came out much richer with experience. I don't know if my words and photographs could do justice to how awesome this gig was, but I tried. And 3 days down the line, try is all a person who is still experiencing the aftermath of the gig, can do.

Writer & Photography : Xavier D'souza

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wacken India

"12th December 2010 - The date for the finals of the Indian edition of Wacken Open Air at Kyra theatre, Bangalore. 8 finalists from 4 zones were supposed to be performing at this metal fest, only 4 turned up. Disappointment, one would think? Not really, as the 4 bands which did perform brought the house down with their tight and explosive performances. And who better to judge the bands than Bangalore's very own metal legends - Kryptos. And to make things even sweeter, Kryptos was headlining the event. They were probably the only 'big' Indian band that I hadn't watched live, prior to this event.

Abandoned Agony  from Bangalore started off things with their unique brand of Brutal death metal mixed with spell-binding virtuosity. I would go as far as calling them the Indian version of Suffocation. Yes, that's how good AA are. In my opinion, they should have easily won the competition as the winner gets to play at the mighty Wacken Open Air (The Mecca of Heavy metal) in Germany next year and there was no better band amongst the final four than Abandoned Agony who could represent Indian and be brutally devastating at the same time.

Eccentric Pendulum (Bangalore) were next and they had a tough act to follow since AA had decimated everything in sight. They started off a little shaky but got better as their setlist progressed. Mid way through their set the skin of the bass drum developed a tear and there was a long and annoying wait of over 45 min before it could be replaced. I took this opportunity to check out Kyra and was really impressed by the venue. If only there could be more Kyras in places like Bombay and Pune, we photographers would die a content death. Awesome stage lighting, great smoke machines, large stage (by underground metal standards) and ample space for a pretty wild moshpit (more on this, later), Kyra has it all. And what's more is that since it's a theatre which is used for other art forms like dramas and stuff, it also has a balcony! Now how many metal venues can boast of that? Coming back to EP's performance, their style is pretty avant-garde and I wish they take it to the next level by adding some unconventional instruments and/or adding a female vocalist. They were my least favourite band of the evening and (un)susprisingly enough, they were the ones to walk out with the prize.

Goddess Gagged from Mumbai followed Eccentric Pendulum and they came in like a breath of fresh air. Their first track oozed of atmosphere and had a complete Post-rock feel to it. It didn't feel like a metal gig anymore and the great stage lighting of Kyra just added to the atmosphere. These guys classify themselves as Progressive Rock and Alternative Rock and I'd like to add experimental, post and psychedelic subgenres to their resume. A special mention of Arman Menzies is warranted here as this dude in the dread locks mesmerised the crowd with his exceptional guitar skills and his backing vocals. If this were a Rock show, Goddess Gagged would have easily won it, but it was Metal competition and GG don't play metal and it was no surprise that they didn't win. Anyway, keep a look out for this band. They're surely going to make it big.

The last band of the competition, Silver Tears from Guwahati crowded the stage with 6 members and introduced themselves as a Progressive Metal band. I'm not exaggerating when I say that they were the tightest band of the evening and were scintillating with their virtuosity and mesmerising songwriting skills. Lead guitarist Ishaan Laskar is probably one of the most exciting talents to come out of the country in recent times and the vocalist Girish gives has a sublime Russell Allen touch to his vocals. They're more Symphony X than Dream Theater in their music and are a real treat to watch irrespective of the kind of metal you listen to. Their set was full of mind numbing solos and progressive interludes, a must for every Proghead.



Now that all four bands were done, the legends of the Indian metal, Kryptos came on stage. What I like about these thoroughly professional bands is that they might not be the most skillful musicians, but what they bring to the table is a rubber sealed performance which young bands simply cannot match. Nolan pours his heart out each time he performs and Ryan is a veteran warhorse on the drums. They're so much in sync with each other that it's hard to find any flaws in the music they create. It was a complete treat for NWOBHM fans and Kryptos deserve all the credit they get.



So yeah, end of the gig and EP were declared winners. One word about the crowd - 'Pathetic'. I haven't seen a more disinterested and boring crowd elsewhere. A kindergarten mosh was created when the 2nd band started playing and I was clicking photographs standing in the centre of the moshpit! Not only that, there were like a handful of people headbanging and the rest were behaving like they had come for a Classical music concert. No enthusiasm at all. Things only got good once Kryptos started playing and this led me to believe that the Bangalore metal crowd only supports bands they know and want to. So much for clich├ęd and over used 'Headbangalore' title.
All in all, a good gig, great venue, bad crowd and good experience. Had a good time writing this article and reminiscing the performances. Cheers!

Writer & Photography : Xavier D'souza

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tree of Porcupines!

This is a hate song just meant for you
I thought that I'd write it down while I still could
I hope when you hear this you'll want to sue

The above three lines has been ringing in my ear constantly. If you ask, what is the most appealing element about this specific song is that from 0.01 to 9.15, the entire song, just cant stop listening to it.. This blog post is dedicated to porcupine tree’s best song ever.

Porcupine Tree – Hate song

The next song I want to talk about is one that belongs to progressive genre and I feel there is a hint of psychedelic rock in it as well. It is a song which takes you along with it – one of the beautifully crafted and wonderfully molded song that I have ever heard.

Porcupine Tree - Russia on Ice

Talking about a few more songs – Lazarus, Even Less and the Dead Can Dance; these songs are one of the bests Porcupine tree has composed or rather tuned.

Porcupine Tree – Lazarus

Each tune, each pluck of the guitar is something which you will love to hear again and again. I haven’t heard anything like this before which is immaculate.

Porcupine Tree – Even Less

The above song, the first string which is plucked sticks to you as a leach, sucks the blood out of veins and purifies it with the progressive metal which is being played. You can hear them repeatedly as if there is no end to it.

Porcupine Tree – Dead can dance

All said and done Porcupine Tree has turn out to be favorite band for millions of fans across the globe and there is no reason why they aren’t famous, they have done world tours like every other band, but I feel there is something special since I feel there is something trippy about their music.

Long Live Porcupine Tree

Love Live Metal

Rock Forever \m/