Archive for the ‘Gig Reviews’ Category

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!

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:

Antim Grahan
Commando Noise Terror
The Innercore

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:

Face of Death
Cadaver Militia
Precipitation of Human Flesh

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:

The Ruin of Immortals
Winter Blossom of Ceremonial Grief
I, Lucifer
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:

The Crucified One
Black to the Blind
Shadow Fear
Come and See My Sacrifice
Dark Age
This is the War
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.]

This review is not available. Go listen to your cunnin’ metalcore bands that I love to bash. So that I could take a chillful nap. Wake me after the ’12 apocalypse or something, ya’ll. Cheers!

Bands: Hatebook, Jugaa, Binaash
Venue: Aussie Bar (Old G’s Terrace), Thamel
Ticket: Rs. 100

[Photos: Umes Shrestha (KtmROCKS)]

March 12. The weekend had two metal gigs in Kathmandu. First, “Deification of the Saboteur II” that featured some relatively newer bands from the city. And the other – this DIY show with such an awesome title. The decision was easy. And the reason too. Could I be eating a ‘kera’ not being there anyway?

Firstly, it was a super-rare Jugaa concert, who had played two gigs in last three years, and I hadn’t seen them live a single time. Secondly, the other two performing bands were Binaash and Hatebook, both executing ‘my’ kind of music – brutal death metal. Thus, I couldn’t miss this infrequent chance of seeing three of my favorites up on same stage.

Well, to start with, the name itself is an epic win – simple, amusing and to-the-point. The gig was scheduled to commence at 3 PM (3:27 perhaps) but as usual, it was pushed to 5 or something. More or less about a hundred people gathered, and the (mini) hall setup was loose enough that there was no barricade between the bands and the crowd. In a sense, there was no stage at all.

With an immense amount of time consumption, Hatebook were on their gears. For me, they had become a band to watch out for, as they are among the very few groups who play death metal here, in comparison to the mushrooming metalcore devotees. They had recently won the Nepfest All-Nation Music Competition and I was already looking forward to catch them up this time too.

Couple of originals and two covers of “Sphere of Madness” (Decapitated) and “Unleashing the Bloodthirsty” (Cannibal Corpse) were what they had to offer. Navin Pokharel is really growing as one of my favorite vocalists in the scene and he was lively as always – liberating low death growls that perhaps go in the league of The Faceless, fused with some animalistic pig squeals. And about the instrumentations, I could actually feel the technicality in riffing, by figuring out the guitarists’ fingerings. A mixture of old school and technical death metal is their arena.

All in all, they had a decent set that I won’t consider their best but they had pulled it well nonetheless. By the way, it was in their final song when the bass drum was cracked and that had brought another one hour of void.

The delay kept me and my friend converse with an Israeli metalhead who had come upstairs just by hearing the noise from outside. Talked about trekking, Orphaned Land, beers, prices, Abed, Ides of March gig, Jugaa, the army training, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, the Greenday songs on speaker, Iran and couple of other stuffs.

So… After a long wait for another bass drum to arrive and after a super-duper wait of seeing Jugaa live, the band were finally on their set. I have been a fan of Jugaa for quite a long time now. The split and the two EPs – they are probably the only Nepali hardcore band I absolutely dig (may be the only hardcore band in the world I absolutely dig). So without much ado, they totally began slaying. About half a dozen songs from their two EPs and the pit went wet and wild as fuck. The band members were real fun guys – kicking each other at instances and making a joke or two in between, making the ambience all good. Ranav was doing vocals and moshing with the crowd at the same time and that was a moment to behold. That guy is a MONSTER. Overall, great stage persona, hardcore for life, true till death, explosive set.

The last band to play was Binaash – the local death metal powerhouse, initially formed by the ex-members of Ugra Karma, Arachnids, 72 Hrs and Naramurti. It was noticeable why they have this self-named genre of ‘ramailo death metal’. Warm interaction with audiences and cracking jokes here and there is the typical Binaash style, and this time was no different. An even sadistic mosh arose and they did about six (or seven or so) originals.

Another grand stage presence, another set of powerful vocals, the super-aggressive hardcore mosh in the crowd, the brutal semi-technical death metal riffs, super-fast blast beats and a super-talented bassist – that’s Binaash’s death metal. Now all I am waiting for is their upcoming studio full length so that I could scare off some metalcore kids at my backyard.

That was the gig. Awesome day. Awesome evening. Fun was had by all. Hope to catch these guys soon.

– Samyam Shrestha