Posts Tagged ‘Powerviolence’

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/