A ceaseless vortex of thick pulsating guitars; riffs that plod along like a heavy avalanche and, unexpectedly, morph into sombre, melodious elegies; throat-ripping screams not unlike a victim in pain – these are the elements that carve the music in Sangharsha’s latest release, Bayou.

The members of Sangharsha have been making music for about a decade and a half now, starting by cutting their teeth in bands as varied as Inside 2 Stoopid Triangles, Albatross and Normal Academic. They burst into the scene playing modern hardcore in the vein of Terror et al. in their 2010 demo, then progressed to powerviolence/sludge in the Bidroh EP after a few months. This was followed by an even sludgier approach on their split with Jugaa in 2011, a style that carried on to their self-titled EP. In between, they released a song called Nekita that exhibited a large post-hardcore influence. Bayou features a variety of musical styles – elements of death, black and post-metal somehow fusing with their trademark hardcore and sludge leading to a sound that is distinctly Sangharsha.

The album opens with Dharaap, a manifestation of heaviness and crushing brutality. This track, as the title entails, portrays the inevitable ambush drawn by the confinement of reality. The way the instrumentation is arranged demands a violent clash of bodies, and the atmosphere further enhances its power. This is followed by Muslo, a faster, more black metalish/crust incarnation of their style, its breakdown providing one of the most vicious seconds of the album. Muslo, along with its successor Chattyang, are undoubtedly the fiercest tracks on this release.

The title-track is where things calm down a bit and start taking a slightly different route, an approach that reminded me of Pulling Teeth’s Funerary. The last two songs, Aseena and Kachuli, are distinctly atmospheric, and a perfect showcase of the band’s post-metal influences. Aseena opens with a driving drum beat that melts into a wall of guitars and descends into a chilling ethereal mid-section, probably one of the finest moments of the album.

Sangharsha’s lyrics have always stood out and, once again, they serve as one of the finer points of the album. Staying true to their roots, the words are exclusively in Nepali, with the man-in-charge Kshitiz Moktan penning them like dark poems encapsulating issues of life, struggle, hatred, social conformation and the inner self. Let me highlight this verse from Aseena, for instance: “Aadhi ra huri sanga astaauchu ma / Kuhiro odera ma kuri base / Ghaam, bayou, aseena / Naya samaya ko janma.” Apart from a couple of tracks on the last EP, Sangharsha has always sung in Nepali, a fact that the members carry like a badge of pride, creating an identity of their own in the New York scene. Despite the change in sound, it’s clear that they still believe in the term Nepali Bol Ya Morr (a song from their 2010 demo).

Bayou was recorded by Kurt Ballou (guitarist of the legendary Converge) at the famous GodCity Studio, and mixed/mastered by Brad Boatwright at Audiosiege (Nails, Sleep, Integrity, etc) so it goes without saying that the record sounds top-notch. Sangharsha has also signed to Alerta Antifascista Records (Germany) who will be releasing vinyl copies of Bayou later this year. The artwork also deserves a special mention. Created by California-based artist Bijay Pokharel, it’s cold and beautiful – perfectly grasping the mood of the album.

All in all, this 26 minute album is a complete destroyer. Kshitiz Moktan is a mastermind when it comes to writing guitar riffs, which this album is full of, and on the whole, the record pushes the boundaries of the ever-experimenting nature of the band. Calling Bayou Sangharsha’s most profound release so far would not be an overstatement. And though it’s still early days yet, I’m really curious about what the quartet will come up with next.

The entire album can be streamed online at http://www.bayou1.bandcamp.com/

I am a sucker for brutal music that’s catchy and that’s not a mere technical wankery, and this album agreeably fulfills and defines that block of my taste. In outright drought of brutality of this sort from the local geographical sphere, I had been religiously waiting for this record to come out. After a series of failed attempts of the band trying to record their material, Binaash could finally do it in the beginning of 2012, and here we have – death metal full-length no. 3 from the Himalayan nation.

Having seen the band live and having been dehumanized by their wicked sets, I could only have anticipated more from this album. First listen and I had mixed feelings about this, especially due to the sloppy sound production values. It moved on, and the music was growing on me; and I was eventually picking up on ‘how’ to listen to this one.

I used to take Binaash’s music to have been concentrated with more percussive emphasis, with the drummer offering his wicked versatility and jazz fills and fusions, and it providing a distinct part of a listener’s focus. But here, after listening to “Binaashkaari”, I conclude it’s all riff-driven death metal that’s been forwarded. One could accuse the mixing that has done quite an injustice to the vile drumming, which has drowned under the heaviness of other instruments. But nonetheless, apart from that is above par, with the thick buzzing of guitars implementing the aural molestation. It is also evident that there is a distinguished difference in the sound quality in acoustic intros and metal tracks, the acoustic intros having a very neat touch.

As said, music is catchy as fuck, where the rudimentary formulae in brutal death metal have been twisted with synchronized atypical grooves, and most of the tracks have the distinct distinguishing sound that could discern it apart from others, e.g. “Swaagat” has this Gorguts tech-death meets thrash appearance, “The Wests” more or less reminds of Cryptopsy with a grind edge, “Eerie Sentiments” appears as a more groove-orientated manifestation, etc. The band’s key riffmeister, Prateek Neupane, although coming from old school death metal background seeks to experiment with newer ideas extending to putting breakdowns, ranging from Cryptopsy-like (“The Wests”) to Dying Fetus/hardcore breakdowns (“Eerie Sentiments”) and slam passages (“Waak”). So it’s all jumbled within and in display through the fifty-one minutes record. The Macabre/Gorerotted/Birdflesh styled humor that is put in has been a refreshing facet as well. Intros precede all tracks, which are mostly in forms of acoustic guitar presentations that don’t particularly go with the themes of the songs that follow, but add as chilling breaks amid the unrelenting brutality. The ‘fun’ element could be observed in these parts mostly, but lyrics of “Binaash Momo Pasal”, “Bancharo”, etc. also do emit that spark. For example, “Bancharo” is actually a conversation between a bird and a hunter (sick, amusing vocals for the bird’s part there). Lyrical themes of tracks vary from real-world serial killer stories to nihilism and from personal experiences to a tribute to the fans (the title track, “Binaashkaari”, meaning ‘destructor’ or ‘destructive’ is actually a reference to the band’s fan-base, where Binaash means ‘destruction’ in Nepali).

The immediate bands that come in mind to explain the musical style are early-day Cannibal Corpse, Dying Fetus and even Aborted with some grind on it, but the references are far more, with regular aforementioned breakdowns and old school tremolo-picked spices been used up. “Gravitational Imbalance” has a robust Deeds of Flesh glow with its technically played mosh-driving riffs. This track demonstrates the actual technical proficiency of the band.

Again about the drums, it is quite superbly done, yet it falls weak with the existing production. Rishav’s beats, since he’s come from jazz background, are pretty versatile and full of ideas, but it doesn’t save from its weak output. It’s hard to follow them at moments, and the sounds of cymbals are just blunt. The bass drums are nearly non-existent at times. What’s impressive though, about the production here is the furious bass of Bijent, the thick existence of which marks an impression, and is clearly and distinctly audible. The vocals range from grunts to growls (backing vocals). I have more preference over those sadistic low growls here, but the lead vocal is pretty interesting as well, that also contain screams to occasional squeals. Prabin has notably changed his style quite a bit compared to his days with Arachnids, which I take as a positive note.

In nutshell, this is some creative brutality, with lots of ideas being put up within. One may notice a slight shift of the songwriting style that varies between songs in the first half and the relatively newer songs in the second – the newer songs being shorter and more… ‘fun’! “Binaashkaari” doesn’t attempt to do anything new but they’ve fairly put forward a warm demonstration of their style of death metal with the groove, the fun particles and unrelenting brutality and catchiness, still pertaining to the members’ raw influences. Regardless of its cliched (yet raw) album art, some vicious music is in display, but it would have been more striking and have added much crisp if it was wrapped and presented with a bit better sound. Although a generic contender in the global death metal circle, it’s still quite a remarkable album of this style from the subcontinent, and which doesn’t apply programmed drums.

Hi everyone! Something for my almost-dead blog right here. I recently took this interview online with Vishal Rai bro., guitarist of one of the sickest Nepali bands Jugaa and who had also been a part of few real awesome bands in the past, like 5th Grade Dropout and Inside 2 Stoopid Triangles. Having released 2 EPs and 2 split albums, Jugaa recently played in Undergrind 2012, Bangalore in April, sharing stage with the mighty grindcore specialists Wormrot from Singapore. Unfortunately, he fractured his leg during the show while stage-diving and had to cancel their performance in Chennai that followed. He’s been so generous as always answering me these silly questions. Here’s how it goes:

Greetings, brother! How are you doing? How is your health?

Most excellent. Getting leaner by the day. How are you?

I’m doing well, thanks! Share us a bit about your Undergrind experence, would you? I saw this fantastic review about your performance.

The India trip was the longest time we spent as a band together so the whole trip was fun. Too bad it had to be cut short (due to my injury). Undergrind was incredible, one of the best sets we played. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten such a great response so it was surprising. Pretty much every band was cool and, of course, Wormrot absolutely killed. Really friendly and helpful people too. Would love to hang with some of those bros again. I also wish we had a venue like Kyra in Kathmandu.

Any cool/memorable incident that happened there? I’m sure there were plenty.

Sushil finally cracking and throwing a glass of beer at my face because I had been making fun of him constantly for the past few days was priceless. The funniest though was Ranav pushing me around in a wheelchair at 2 AM in a hospital in Bangalore, right after Undergrind where I broke my foot. Despite being in pain, we both found that particular moment hilarious.

Although I wasn’t around, I heard that Anil (who has strangely hairless legs) had an encounter with a hijada on the train, who asked him whether he shaved his legs.

Nothing crazy. We’ve all become fairly boring adults.

Haha, awesome! Well, now towards the general questions, tell us something about you that most people don’t know about?

I’m a huge fan of fantasy literature. I’m constantly reading.

I can’t grow a beard or a mustache although I have been rocking a pair of sick sideburns for more than a decade now. Sometimes I feel like I’ll never be a real man.

I learnt classical guitar for 6 months before I dropped out. Still regret it sometimes.

I have seen Static-X live. They were awesome.

What bands are rolling on your raiPod these days?

Black Breath – “Sentenced to Life” (I’ve been jamming this for a few months now. Entombedcore lives!)

Homewrecker – “Worms and Dirt” (Cleveland hardcore, tough as nails!! That city has spawned my favourite bands)

Seven Sisters of Sleep – S/T EP (Heavy as fuck, sludge)

Black Sheep Wall – “No Matter Where It Ends” (This might just be the heaviest album of the year, until the new Xibalba drops that is. It should be illegal to create something this heavy)

The Story So Far – “Under Soil and Dirt” (A regular on my playlist since last year. One of the best pop punk albums of recent years)

Burning Love – “Rotten Thing to Say” (Chris Colohan’s newest band. The album is a brilliant mix of hardcore, punk and rock n’ roll)

And the new Sangharsha EP of course. “Prasanna” is a masterpiece!

Few of the albums that changed your life would be?

I can probably give a dozen different answers each time but after some thought I’ll narrow it down to these. These aren’t my favourites but…

Slayer’s “Reign in Blood” got me into heavy music.

Rancid’s “…And Out Come the Wolves” and the Ramones’ S/T were the albums that got me into punk as a young one. The first songs I learnt to play on the guitar were from these albums.

Earth Crisis’ “Destroy the Machines” and Integrity’s “Humanity is the Devil” for introducing me to the harder, metallic hardcore that I love so much.

So how has hardcore influenced or shaped your current viewpoint and attitudes, and the way you generally perceive things?

Since hardcore and punk are message-heavy forms of music, I would be lying if I said a lot of my beliefs weren’t shaped by them. I have been listening to the music from an impressionable age after all. I don’t want to go into details. There are plenty of things I wouldn’t have been aware of or wouldn’t have given a fuck about if it hadn’t been for hardcore but, at the same time, there are also plenty of things that make me cringe. Let’s just say I steer clear of all the cheesy and “No Fun Club” activities that come with hardcore/punk and there are far too many of those.

I met most of my closest friends through punk/hardcore though so it’s had a massive influence on my life if only for that single reason.

Anything you listen to apart from hardcore/punk?

Everything but jazz, sports metal, contemporary R&B and keyboard metal.

You’ve been an awesome guitarist who has bestowed the listeners with some of the hardest, heaviest riffs. Yet you never seem to talk much about the guitarist side of yours like most others do. Why is that? Plus tell us a bit about your history with guitar?

Haha that’s because I’m not a “guitarist”, I just play guitar in a band. There’s a big difference. I am a very average guitar player and my theoretical knowledge is zero. If people find my riffs awesome, it’s probably because of I rip off songs pretty well.

As for my history, I was influenced by my dad and because an uncle of mine said girls would find it cool. He was right.

Haha, okay. Well… the best gig you’ve played in would be?

With Jugaa, Undergrind 2012 and our comeback show last year (Na Aune Haru Kera Khau), although we weren’t tight at all. With Inside 2 Stoopid Triangles, our first Pokhara show and Fistful of Rock in 2003 which was definitely the most volatile show we played. The crowd absolutely hated us and we kept pissing them off.

How is playing with Jugaa different from your past bands?

I get to jump around a lot more.

Haha! Any unforgettable moment/s as a guitarist/performer/musician/band-member?

Watching a guy get beat up by his own band because he was drunk and completely ruined their set.

Getting free beers at a Parkway Drive show in Sydney (of all places) because the bartender recognized me from my I2ST days. Felt strange and awesome.

5 bands you’d love to share stage with?

Sangharsha, Integrity, Ringworm, Mindsnare and Eyehategod

Ok. Now. What do you think about Satanism in Nepal?

Needs even more face-paint and chickens being sacrificed. Or goats but that’s already a Hindu thing. Give more, give everything, give blood.

And what’s your religious belief?

I’m agnostic but I’m not anti-religious. People need what they need and if it makes them happy, who’s anyone to say otherwise. I find loudmouth atheists as annoying as religious nuts, maybe even more. Actually, the most decent people I’ve met have been religious and they’re just trying to get by.

Just be a chill bro. You’ll like everything a lot more then.

Who are more annoying? IMNs (Internet Metal Nerds), nationalists in the internet or the duck-faced cuties on Fb?

Internet Metal Nerds, obviously, with their excessively strong opinions on music. That extends to tr00 punx as well. It hurts to think that I used to be like one of them just a few years ago. I’m a changed man now, I listen to more easycore than anything else these days.

What do you think about people who say music is their life and that they can’t live without music?

Try living the life of a deaf person, you heartless bastards.

Word!

What do you do beside playing in Jugaa?

I have a Bachelor in Public Relations (lol) but haven’t really done anything with it. I’m involved in the family business right now.

Do you have pets?

Yes, two dogs and a turtle. If a pond with koi fish counts, then them too.

Dream date?

Mila Kunis

“Who the fuck cares about the beauty of your country when it’s populated by shit like you”, well, the song title itself says it, but any particular thing or situation that made you write this song?

Nalina Chitrakar. It was a Nepal bandh and there was a lot of shit going on. I turned on the TV and there she was with her big nose singing about how beautiful the country is. What an annoying woman.

So what do you say about the present political situation of Nepal?

Nothing. Being politically aware is gay.

Haha, alright. I understand you don’t give much care to the local scenes, but anyway, do you like how the Kathmandu underground scene is currently and where it is heading towards?

I couldn’t care less. How many good bands are there anyway truthfully? I haven’t liked more than 5 local bands in the last 10 years. People get too serious about the music scene like it’s some sort of spiritual experience. It can head wherever the fuck it wants. As long as I get to play a show every few months with my friends and record stuff once a year, that’s all I care about.

So when is the next Jugaa release coming our way?

Hopefully something by the end of 2012.

I came to know you’re also secretly listening to much Swedish death metal and doom/death metal. What are the chances that Jugaa’s sound will now move towards Entombedcore in coming releases?

Never secretly, man. I’ve loved Entombed for years but never got into death metal. I’m just starting to get into it now. Who knows, that Entombed influence might just creep in. I might even get myself a HM-2 pedal.

Thank you so much for the interview, bro. Last words to your friends, fans, foes and all the beautiful chicks and dicks out there?

Listen to Sangharsha, Binaash, Jugaa, XKali-GulaX and Samyam’s new band. Don’t be an Internet Metal Nerd.

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SARV is Kalodin’s second offering after their debut “The Bestial Ritualism of Harlotry” two years ago, and as Davin Shakya, the band’s guitarist has put it, the band’s first real debut after their experimental full-length. And it sounds. Kalodin have been more straightforward this time, stretching their affiliations with the assigned black metal moniker, while experimenting with Hindu themes in superficial levels. Their sound has turned pretty darker and colder now, consequently.

There are plenty of black metal standard tremolo riffs that are neatly crafted, alongside the groovy interruptions, which in alliance have created decent transitions providing a flow. While Kalodin’s past compositions had rather centered on symphonic components than brutality, the two facets are in harmony here. Moreover, guitars have the ability to stand on their own creating an ambience without the aid of the keys. Davin’s Alexi Laiho influenced lead solos add additional flavors to it. And while the DimmuBorgir orchestral influences are still imminent, the keyboard has also been utilized to penetrate the style of Emperor in brutal segments. The significance of keys seems to be lesser than in their last record though. In general, Kalodin have dealt with a more straightforward black metal sound with these formulae, demonstrating an amalgam of old-school and modern ingredients, while the production has helped it incline towards a primitive black metal approach.

I was expecting the EP to embrace Hinduism theme exclusively, because of the album title, the cover art and the pre-release news of addition of sitar in the EP. But contrary to what I was anticipating, Hinduism marks its entrance in the latter half of the final track “Trishula” alone, with the inclusion of the harmonious sitar and a ritualistic hymn. This is where the eastern scales are introduced, with the ending part sounding as a symphonic black metal equivalent of Singaporean Rudra. And since I took it as just experimentation on what the band’s newer sound could be like, I welcome this step in their upcoming releases as well.

There are three vocalists in the record. The lead vocals is done by the man Davin himself, displaying his chaotic and hateful high-pitched screams, which sound akin to that of Shagrath of Dimmu Borgir. Similarly, Sanjay Maharjan and Pranav Panthi have provided additional punches and growls. The drumming by Gobinda Sen is quite solid as well. I like how the drums sound in the mix.

All in all, this is a commendable record – fast, furious, melodic and dark. The tracks seem to have been ordered in accordance to increasing splendor, the opener track “Fallen Empire” being quite weaker compared to what it is followed by, while the ending track “Trishula” being the one standing out, perhaps because of its differing theme and songwriting method. The EP runs nearly 20 minutes, and if Kalodin persist on what they’ve done in “Trishula”, they got plenty of new and interesting sounds to bestow the listeners.

I, for one, am pleased for now.

 


Venue: Jawalakhel Ground, Lalitpur, Nepal
Date and Time: March 17, 2012, 2 PM onwards
Ticket: Rs. 800/1,000

Lemme have it short:

2 Point 4 Three (Darjeeling) were terrible.

Narsamhaar (Pokhara) were good and showed a lot of potentials with their tight performance.

Binaash (Kathmandu) were sick as always. They had played with ‘stockings’/masks on, haha! The best performance among the opening acts.

Grimmotal (Mumbai) were cool guys, but gave a boring set.

Arsames (Iran) were okay, but not as per what I had anticipated.

And the highlight of the day, Napalm Death (UK), the legends, just tore the stage apart. It was a privilege seeing them right in my hometown, and it was a pity that the police had to stop the show right in middle of their set after they threw 7-10 songs (I suck at giving the numbers), due to ‘security reasons’. Their set was mixture of both new and old songs, and they also played the shortest song in the world. I broke my glasses while moshing in “Scum”. Darn!!!

The crowd? Nearly one thousand, contrary to about 4K in the Vader gig, which was expected, due to the heavy ticket pricing. The overall management of the gig sucked, but kudos to the organisers for bringing ND to the town. It was announced that the next edition of the concert will be headlined by Sepultura in October.

So here goes my very brief review of the gig yesterday. Cheers!

NAPALM DEATH Live in Nepal

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

The English grindcore legends Napalm Death will be playing a show in Kathmandu, headlining the Metal Mayhem IV gig on March 17.

OH. MY. GOD!!!

The venue is the same Jawalakhel Ground in Lalitpur, where Vader had played last year.

Death Metal Albums of 2011

Posted: December 30, 2011 in Articles

Mitochondrion > Parasignosis

Mitochondrion play a strange type of death metal. If you’ve listened to bands like Demilich and Portal, you know it well that it’s tough to describe the music these kind of bands play. Bizarre? Alien? Strange? Mitochondrion’s style combines those extra-terrestrial elements and crafts the oddity. It even leans till black metallic melodies, superficially, and with subtle ambience, the whole sound shaped is so eerie yet beautiful. “Parasignosis” offers more amount of experimentation than in their debut album “Archaeaeon” maintaining the unorthodox complexity in music and song-structures. This is an epitome of what experimentation and technicality merge to procreate. This is other-worldly! This is atmospheric death metal at its pinnacle!

Check out: “Plague Evockation”

Disma > Towards the Megalith

Disma is the brainchild of former Incantation throat Bill Venner and comprises of members from massive underground legions as Funebrarum and Goreaphobia as well. This record however sets the music differently than these bands, in a way it is more doom/sludge ridden and tries out some diverse riffing techniques altogether. The rhythm is thick and heavy, and the tempo is mostly kept in a glacial speed, while the atmosphere is truly lethal. And beside the predictable similarity in style with those of the aforementioned bands, there are clues of Immolation and Autopsy as well. On the whole, “Towards the Megalith” is presented in a primitive and unadulterated way, and this could probably be the heaviest in death metal this year.

Check out: “Lost in the Burial Fog”

Cannabis Corpse > Beneath Grow Lights Thou Shalt Rise

I have always loved this band for their cunning play on Cannibal Corpse song-titles and this time, they’ve turned their weedy improvisation over Deicide and Morbid Angel, and well, that’s great. Especially the catchy-as-fuck guitar work is truly genius here, which is the highlight throughout the whole album, the riffing being real crunchy and enjoyable. The band has obviously discovered their own signature sound by now, leaving behind the Cannibal Corpse traces in the beginning years. The sick humour and tongue-in-cheek words behind such serious music is definitely a plus point. Overall, a sick, twisted death metal fun, the best Cannabis Corpse work till date if you ask me.

Check out: “Lunatic of Pot’s Creation”

Ulcerate > The Destroyer of All

This is one peculiar album! And it won’t be wrong to declare by now that “The Destroyer of All” is one of the most original in death metal in recent years. And while Ulcerate‘s last release “Everything is Fire” had all those sparks of experimentation, this one takes it a step further. With bazarre guitar work and atmosphere, the overall sound is made subtly unique, inheriting the mix of Gorguts, Mitochondrion and Portal. This is what it would sound if Deathspell Omega had gone death metal. Relying on the stylistic backbone presented in their previous album, Ulcerate have worked out well to make their sound even more absurd and abstract!

Check out: “Burning Skies”

Antediluvian > Through the Cervix of Hawwah…

Another album that picks up the traditional death metal influences and produces something refined and non-generic. Antediluvian sound dirty, heavy and wicked, and full of ideas. Bringing in the dirtiness of Portal and Mitochondrion in the sound, the band, similarly as Incantation, utilizes the unrelenting atmosphere as a vicious weapon. The song-structures are quite complex and progressive, which vary from slow but monstrous doom/sludge segments to fast paced chug-drives, and while not much technicality is showcased, simplicity is what has proceeded the brutality.

Check out: “Luminous Harvest”

Vader > Welcome to the Morbid Reich

Vader has been one of the most consistent bands in death metal – nearly three decades in the run and this is the ninth full-length in their name, and which is still competent to be their best work. Although their style has relatively been unchanged since a long time now, they’ve been ceaselessly offering their music in top-notch quality and that’s commendable. “Welcome to the Morbid Reich” is intense, fast, full of climax and a collection and presentation of splendid and persevered songwriting. While their previous work “Necropolis” was still a solid release for me, this album comes out as yet another testament for the greatness that Vader is. Seeing them live in October was a dream come true!

Check out: “Come and See My Sacrifice”

Sonne Adam > Transformation

The duo, Sonne Adam hail from Israel and these guys play murky doom-laden death metal conjuring up a strong, disgusting and ritualistic atmospheric backbone, sometimes recalling the sludgy Morbid Angel meets Incantation. The songwriter of the band, Davidov (who plays everything except singing) has reportedly stated that MA’s “God of Emptiness” is a huge influence on his writing, and you could predict what has come your way. This isn’t a new formula at all, but “Transformation” has been crafted and executed solidly. Full of brilliant riffs, the songs are constructed with real finesse and drama, and I just love the guitar tone.

Check out: “We Who Worship the Black”

Autopsy > Macabre Eternal

After a rather good comeback EP last year, Autopsy have followed it up with an impressive full-length this time. After all these years, beside some renewed elements in their sound, it still maintains its affiliance to the classic “Severed Survival” or “Mental Funeral” era sound, only recorded with modern tools and technologies now. For that matter, the production is excellent here, and musically it’s a solid deal of death, doom, sludge, grind and melody mixed up in a morbid fashion. They’ve even been able to add versatility in these slower manifestatations, and one could even notice the elongation of their songs, like the eleven minutes epic “Sadistic Gratification”.

Check out: “Dirty Gore Whore”

Blaspherian > Infernal Warriors of Death

After several demos, splits and EP, “Infernal Warriors of Death” comes out as the first full-length by Blaspherian. These guys play old-school death metal much in style of atmospheric Incantation, but refined with noticeable original elements. The sound is adorned by the dirty distortions, ultra-low gutturals, dreary ambiance and easy but chaotic riffing presented in complex song-structures that transform from full-paced chugs to slow, evil, doom segments, portraying evil and death in the most morbid way, musically. And while they’ve been able to ‘stay true’ to their roots, they have still worked out to create something new out of it. Great album on the whole.

Check out: “Infernal Warriors of Death”

Azarath > Blasphemers’ Maledictions

Another blower from Poland, Azarath have demonstrated their fast, evil and raw as fuck death metal similar in style with the fellow countrymen Behemoth, Vader or Hate. Among past releases of theirs, I’m only familiar with “Diabolic Impious Evil”, which was a monster in itself, and this is another stronger one. The album is driven with unbridled hatred and fury throughout, and brutality caressed with the primitive, barbarian approach. For those who didn’t know, the drumming is done by Inferno (of Behemoth fame) who’s the only remaining original member of the group. All in all, albums like this and Vader’s new are what make it up after Decapitated‘s weak return, to put forward what Polish death metal really stands for… and these are the fastest two in my list as well.

Check out: “Supreme Reign of Tiamat”

NOTABLE MENTIONS

Morbus Chron – “Sleepers in the Rift”: Swedish death metal refined with elements coming from early Autopsy and “Leprosy”-era Death. A sheer balance of speed, brutality, melody and technicality. Awesome pick for the OSDM fans.

Exhumed – “All Guts, No Glory”: Sick, putrid deathgrind with spark of old-school death metal.

Immolation – “Providence” (EP): Nothing new on the table with this EP, but Immolation’s use of unique sounds to enhance the depth of their music is commendable in itself. Heavy, complex and executed excellently, these guys never fail to impress.

Nader Sadek – “In the Flesh”: The supergroup consists of Blasphemer, Flo Mounier, Steve Tucker and Marcin Nowak “Novy” in the line-up. Interesting enough, eh? And they’ve done it in style. This is what the new Morbid Angel should have sounded like.

Goreaphobia – “Apocalyptic Necromancy”: Thrashy, primitive death metal with a new-school vibe also present – fast, sinister and demonic, and with careful songwriting, offering lots of moments.

Obscura – “Omnivium”: Technical death metal that isn’t exhausting! Chock-full of hypnotic riffs, marvelous arpeggios and neo-classical lead solos in here. Forget about Necrofagist not releasing anything new, for this destroyer has come out. Best in technical death metal this year? I assume so!

Necros Christos – “Doom of the Occult”: Doom-laden occult death metal, conjuring a rich ritualistic atmosphere and riding a simplistic approach, enhancing the depth and heaviness of music. Certainly, here is more than death metal, and half of the tracks are exotic instrumentals, ambients and interludes, acquiring influence from Mesopotamian/Persian/Indian grounds. Some riffs are quite bleak which make a slight hitch.

Abysmal Dawn – “Leveling the Plane of Existence”: Fast, furious and technical, with decent songwriting depicting Hate Eternal or the likes.

Macabre – “Grim Scary Tales”: I adore Macabre for their wicked attempt at humour and amusement, and fun-filled play – thrashy death metal with lots of out-of-the-box, exceptional elements put in. I wouldn’t consider this their best work, but it’s good for an open ear… like any of their previous.

Benighted – “Asylum Cave”: Modern deathgrind with intelligent and varied riffing.

After Oblivion is a technical death/thrash metal group hailing from Bosnia-Herzegovina and having released an EP and a compilation with No Blest from Brazil already, this is their third offering but the first one that has reached me, so I’m rather unaware of their past sound/approach done back in ’07 and the time gap admist could possibly grant some alteration in direction, but anyway. While this EP is a bit too short display of the band’s craftmanship, it still helps to figure out their musical proficiencies in a quick and clear note.

“Vultures” is what was described to me as a promo release of three of the selected songs by the band. I’ve noticed that their music is often closely related to with Death and I don’t deny this much. In fact, the music is stylistically derived much through influences lying in later-day-Death (specifically “Symbolic”) while some Martyr and Pestilence could also be observed in places. My taste is actually not much on the ground of technical death metal, but well, I always took it as, it’s always welcoming when bands imply technicalities to foster their songwriting and not merely for mindless wankery.

I don’t know if it was intentional, but incorporation of middle-eastern melodies could also be noticed, prevalent mostly in the riffs, much similarly done as the Egyptian Scarab. The bass is clearly audible, thanks to the clean production (which I would have liked it thick, but well…). And the vocals are like Schuldiner again and there come in more of those melodic lead solos that remind of classic Death years.

Although labelled death/thrash or technical thrash, this is more death metal and less thrash to me. And although the songwriting is pretty enjoyable, there is nothing new presented musically in surface of tech-death, and the experimentation in originality tends to be lacking at times while following the influences, but the inclination towards middle-eastern flavour could be what saves the album from sounding like plenty of others doing this style. All in all, a good, commendable record “Vultures” is, which is recommended to fans of Death and death metal in general. After Oblivion is a band worth watching out for in days to come, and I hope they find some good record label soon.

7.5/10

My dear friend Hassan Umer from Pakistan has assembled some awesome hardcore/sludge/grind/metal tracks by bands from throughout south Asia and beyond, and has released this compilation called “Rebellious Damnation Theories”. It’s just an online released (released Oct 28), you can download it via HERE.

[Track List]:

01. Jugaa – “Vultures Will Feed”
02. Bonecrushing Unity – “Open Your Eyes”
03. Sangharsha – “Insaniyaat”
04. Moron Crew – “Unity”
05. Foreskin – “Anger Management”
06. Pataca – “You are Dead to Me”
07. Dementia – “Sworn Annihilation”
08. Tormentstorm – “Slaughtered for Pleasure”
09. Nuclear Winter – Thrasher’s Cult
10. Herodah – “Hivemind”
11. Mysosis – “The Uncaring Strokes of the Master”
12. Bvlghvm – “LPC”
13. Bruxism – “Absolute Control”
14. Abusive Father – “The Epic as Fuck Tale About How Some Random Paki Dude on the Internet Asked Us to Do a Track for This Compilation”
15. Chillar Killer – “Bari Gal Kiti, La Lao Littar”
16. Ha5h on Death Drive – “Mango Juice”
17. Masturbate – “Methods of Ejaculation”
18. Gorified – “Obliteration Quandary”
19. Multinational Corporations – “Inhumanization”
20. Unholy Sermon – “Genocide Nations”
21. Necroticon – “Necrotic Truth”
22. Sledgehammer Autopsy – “The Cosmic Horror”
23. Death Inquisition – “Death Comes Ripping” (Live Misfits Cover)
24. Takatak – “Giant Song” (Live)
25. Inside 2 Stoopid Triangles – “Fuck Off Metalheads!” (Live)

The facebook event page for some more information if you wish…

When Silence Entertainment first announced that this year’s Silence Festival will be headlined by the legends Vader, it was hard to believe for an instance. Vader has been one of the oldest and most consistent groups in the death metal world and while most of other death metal old-guards had been releasing substandard albums this year, Vader’s “Welcome to the Morbid Reich” was still competent in outperforming few of their older classics. So I was waiting anxiously for the day to come, October the fifteenth, and when it finally arrived, I couldn’t help but rush direct to the venue before an hour than the scheduled time.

We reached the festival ground at mid-day where there were only a handful of people gathered, volunteers, Garud security-men and few police to be seen around. Not only was I keen to mingle myself with the atmosphere but also as I had to miss two opening bands last year, being only an hour late. That was a great concert with great acts like Enigmatik (Switzerland), The Motherrockers Gang (Switzerland), E.quals and Binaash among others playing and this year, the bar was raised much, much higher. Thanks to Silence Entertainment!

Well… the stage was set-up beautifully and it seemed grand! The lights, the sound system, everything had their grandeur. It took a while and it was no late than 2 PM for the gig to kick off.

The festival Line-up:

Vader
Underside
Antim Grahan
Helmut
Commando Noise Terror
Kalodin
The Innercore
Hatebook

To start the event was the uprising local death metal group Hatebook. There were ongoing talks that the band has grown to a much tighter live act in their recent shows, and I was totally looking forward to this set. A bit muddy sound output in general, but they had delivered their best.

A quick sound-check with “Sphere of Madness” and then threw five crushing originals that featured influences ranging from Cannibal Corpse to Gorguts. Progressive elements were much evident in their newer songs, marked by numerous tempo changes and chilling Gorguts/Pestilence inclined riffing. This was the newer side of Hatebook’s music I hadn’t noticed before. Bivesh Thapa, their drummer was pounding the kit in a consistent fury backing up the vigorous band in front – quite impressive stage presence, especially of the vocalist and the bassist. Navin Pokharel was a monster behind the mic as always, bestowing with his diverse vocals range – growls to grunts and pig squeals. The crowd hadn’t still grown much big till then but it was a cool opening act for the day, the only notch down being the sound not being very clear.

Hatebook’s set-list:

Spartacus
Face of Death
Cadaver Militia
Precipitation of Human Flesh
Revenge

Then came The Innercore, a Hong-Kong based bunch of four Nepalese and a Philippino. They played metalcore, in style of Lamb of God meets As I Lay Dying. And since modern metalcore influenced by the Gothenburg sound is not my cup of tea, they didn’t get much of an attention from me. But pretty impressive stage gesture and they seemed to be having fun onstage and that’s what it matters the most. Did about half a dozen songs and I really adored the band’s drummer. I rest my case.

Next up were the local symphonic black metal outfit Kalodin who conquered the stage adorned with corpsepaints on. Their live sets have always been full of vivid atmosphere but this time they did it without all those lights on and thus it wasn’t as ambient in the daylight. Initially, Davin Shakya’s guitar had drowned behind the keys and drums, but they soon recovered the sound and began blasting continuously. They presented some five or six songs off their full length. But still, the sound output wasn’t much decent and the overall sound seemed unbalanced. Quite a disappointment from the guys I was having an expectation on, and having seen them twice already, this was their least appealing set for me.

Another thing is that they’ve being doing the same stuffs onstage all those times, and it seemed to be lacking the newness to a degree. Davin did put on show some of his immensely skillful shreds though, and the whole Dimmu Borgir-meets-power metal styled metal was commendable. All in all, they’re capable of bringing a much stronger performance than that, but things didn’t go well for them that day. They’re coming with an EP later this year, so I’m pretty excited on that note.

The first international act for the day was Commando Noise Terror, a solo project of Guido Wyss, drummer of Swiss brutal death metal band Enigmatik (/Near Death Condition, another killer death metal band), who had headlined the first edition of the festival last year. Finally, most of the audiences were on foot. He displayed his diverse talent in drumming, pummeling the kit in front of the tracks being played, which ranged from electronica to ambient flutes and jazzy metal to western classical. For the set, a different set of drums was employed and the guy had destroyed the skins, literally. The crowd cheered at him time and again, while he was exhibiting a very technical and creative side of extreme metal drumming. His set lasted for around half an hour and ended with a drum cover of Deicide’s “Scars of the Crucifix”, minus the vocals. He also did one on an eastern classical track (Anil Dhital – Kutumba collaboration, you remember?). Great set which took the gig on the next level!

Then came Helmut, another Swiss act. This band was out of my focus for whatever reasons, until they showed up what they’re capable to delivering on stage. A pleasant surprise and one of the best performances of the day, Helmut played music blended of everything heavy metal, doom, sludge, punk, rock, blues, mathcore and whatnot! Their set started with a company of the local guitar maestro Anil Dhital (E.quals/White/Lakhe) who had presented his sitar skills along Helmut’s music. This was the first time I actually saw him playing the instrument and it was mind-blowing!

And then when the band began to play their slow, doomy riffs, it all blew the stage away. Real catchy riffs and which were SUPERHEAVY!!! I digged the band’s music. The vocalist used from clean singing to Meshuggah-ish screams and growls and was little eerie but flew perfect with the music, which also stretched to easy ZZ-Top influenced blues segments. Equally exciting was their stage presence – really splendid and easy-with-the-stage, they were real fun to watch, especially the bassist. They really know how to rock n’ roll! I learned that their new CD is being distributed for free in Tone Music Store, so go grab them up real fast if you loved the guys.

Then onstage were Antim Grahan, the local black metal giants. The light of the day had completely escaped beyond the horizons by this time and which had only made the ambience more elegant. This time, the band didn’t have any face-paint, fake blood or the pig head as before. They came in and straightaway delivered their material.

The instruments beside the drums weren’t much discernible at the beginning, but they leveled up quickly. There were a number of mess in their playing but overall, it was a tight set. It was cool that they included new as well as older songs in their set-list, including the cover of “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. Well, this had come on-the-spot, since the crowd was cheering to hear the song played (which is really pathetic! The crowd still favors covers to originals?!?) Thus it came all unprepared and it could be observed since the bassist was relying on Pankaj Shakya (one of their guitarists) to know what to play further. Nonetheless, they pulled it off, but it was their weakest that day. It was the first performance of the band with their new bassist, Kunjan Shrestha, formerly of Wings of Spasm.

Surya was furious as always with his drumming, who was one of the highlights of the set, completely destructive while entering brutal blast segments. Vocals from Parash Shakya were also clearly audible, calming my complaint that they weren’t much loud in few of their previous sets. Overall, it was a mixed set, and which also invited the crowd to the pit. The sound released was quite awesome, if not flawless.

Antim Grahan’s set-list:

300
The Ruin of Immortals
Winter Blossom of Ceremonial Grief
I, Lucifer
Infected
With Vengeance I Bleed
Hallowed Be Thy Name (Iron Maiden cover)
Pashu Samrajya

Underside were next, the band featuring the members of E.quals, and Bikrant Shrestha, the key organizer of the festival, added. I had thought this band to be metalcore although being tagged ‘modern metal’, but turned out to be a little more than that, more or less. Their music consisted of thrash, groove metal and hardcore punk ingredients as well. I’ve always loved E.qual’s stage persona, if not their form of music so much, and same was the case here, plus I was actually enjoying Underside’s music, which wasn’t as technical as E.quals’ though. Energetic band and the commanding front-man, Underside proved to be the tightest local act to perform that day. They did about four or five songs, and since I was too excited longing for Vader, I couldn’t concentrate much on them after a while. All in all, they released a perfect sound output and created headbang frenzy in the crowd. Great set!

And after a long wait, Vader finally showed up. The field was full of around two thousand who were desperately waiting for the legends to arrive and commence the mayhem. Quite a bit of time consumed as separate sets of speakers were unfolded and the drums’ set was also replaced by the larger one that was used by CNT earlier. And finally the intro with haunting keys came on track, “The Dark Side” originally from Star Wars to be specific, and it felt the skies were tearing apart and the demons were arriving down on earth.

The tall men arrived and then in no time started demolishing with one song after another. Peter initially had few problems with the monitors and it raged him a bit but it was cool that he later apologized for the muddle (he actually kicked one of the monitors in front of him). The big man also messed a lead solo in the first song in the process of confusion. But then what followed were fifteen other songs, presented flawlessly, with absolute precision. Obviously, they had the best sound output among all other bands that day with every note hit audible and they were just tearing apart the stage. Great stage persona, cool interaction with the crowd and most importantly, brilliant music. Paul actually greeted with namaste’s at instances between the songs, which was cool.

James Stewart, their English drummer was blasting his drums like a machine relentlessly driving the madness foster. Hell broke loose and there were two separate pits in two halves of the ground and both pits turned out pretty huge and violent.

Just when Vader announced their last song, the crowd went “Raining Blood, Raining Blood” (pathetic again, the crowd favors Vader covering songs as well… hinting them the crowd actually loves Slayer’s songs more than Vader’s own? It’s a pity). But then again, they had two great covers of “Black Sabbath” and “Raining Blood” at the end. They made the former sound even more evil while the pit had broadened its territory during “Raining Blood”. After the set, the band members gathered to thank the audience, while Peter greeted with “Subharaatri Kathmandu”, which came much as a thrilling surprise, haha.

Vader’s set-list:

Sothis
The Crucified One
Black to the Blind
Shadow Fear
Come and See My Sacrifice
Kingdom
Dark Age
This is the War
Impure
Wings
Silent Empire
Black Sabbath (Black Sabbath cover)
Raining Blood (Slayer cover)

(and two or three others I cannot remember names of)

The clock had already pointed 10 PM and we rushed happily back our homes. A great historical day for a small underground scene like ours! Best. Gig. Ever!!!

I would like to thank Silence Entertainment for pulling off such a great event like this and which in itself is a huge milestone in the local scene. And I hope more gigs like this would be organised in future. Kudos to the Silence crew!!!

[The above pictures were taken by Umes Shrestha of KtmROCKS. They are posted here with permission.]