Posts Tagged ‘New York’

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 had been excited to have my ears on this release since the time Vishal Rai (guitarist, Jugaa) announced his band is working on a split with New York based Nepali hardcore group Sangharsha. Well, I had been a fan of both these bands – Jugaa for their uncoventional hardcore sound, rawness, superheavy riffs, sick live shows and badassery of the members, and Sangharsha for their catchiness (esp. the demo), that had put me in serious consideration of giving hardcore a second chance (I didn’t have clearer picture of hardcore before that and which I connected to metalcore, more or less, which I always loved to bash).

The first half is Sangharsha’s. It opens with their cover of Integrity’s “Vocal Test”. Then comes their two crushing originals, “Insaniyaat” and “Ekata”. Well, the band doesn’t seem to get stuck with one particular style over and over their releases. This had already been presented through the giant turn of their sound from modern hardcore sounding demo to the more powerviolence/sludge/hardcore in their one-song EP in such a short span of time. And again, this time as well they have presented themselves a bit differently. More sludge/doom incorporations with the dirty distortions and heavier the tracks get. Hence they’re tending to move towards a sound they could call entirely their own. Slow to mid tempo most of the times, the riffs are quite enjoyable. But alongside, they did somewhat disappoint me because I was so enjoying their older approach to hardcore, i.e. of the demo, but killer tracks these are, nonethless.

The second half is Jugaa. I have always loved Jugaa’s sound – they tend to merge everything metal, punk, grind and hardcore, procreating a unique sound. I also loved them because of Ranav’s vocals, which were growls and not screams, the ones which every generic metalcore act in the scene employ nowadays. Through this album, Jugaa too have shifted their sound, i.e. to a darker direction. While elements of doom, grindcore and sludge could also be observed, the typical Jugaa vibe is well observed through Vishal Rai’s vile riffs, which have always been nothing less than super-heavy. This time around, Ranav utilizes more of his high-pitched screams instead of his trademark growls found in his previous works with Jugaa, Cruentus or Maya. The riffs, as said never fail to impress – the groovy segments, the neat breakdowns and all. But the best part comes in the opener of “Vultures Will Feed”, which sets me feel like slamming a face everytime it plays. “Come the Winter” is said to have some connection with “Game of Thrones” but fuck… I don’t know what it’s all about, so I rest the case. The record ends with Jugaa’s cover of “Birth is Pain”, originally by Ringworm.

The production is what sets it a notch down to me, as I love the sound of everything these bands did before this. But anyway, balls-bursting hardcore/sludge will sum it up, the best to come out of our putrid land (and Amerika) as of late. HxCx!

8.5/10

[The split is up for free download. Click here to download]