"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 clichéd 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!”