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album review : My Dark Symphony (2012) – 1833 AD

With the Indian black metal scene starving to a painful death, one band has managed to break open the vaults and is making it difficult to be ignored. Open your ears to 1833 AD.

album : My Dark Symphony

artist : 1833 AD

genre : Black Metal

year : 2012

Introductory thoughts

We are living in an exciting time when metal bands from across the globe are waking up to the fact that they still haven’t played a gig in India. Move over how the Indian Premier League united cricket aficionados from everywhere and how our country is now posing a missile threat to far off nations. The evolution of the Indian metal scene, which includes the bands and the fans, has been expeditious. But obviously metal being the devil’s best friend, popular and hence shitty media in India do not tilt the torch towards it. There has also been a rise in the number of instrument players ready to take on their neighborhood with their own brand of metal. Amidst all this the genre of black metal seems to be in a deeply unconscious state. To the point that one can count the reliable providers on one finger, if you know what that means.

My Dark Symphony – True to the roots

The above paragraph gives you a fair idea of the lack of inspiration, and the crisis surrounding black metal in India. Picture this. It took a good eight years for a band like 1833 AD (they do have fans) to release their debut effort My Dark Symphony! The motivation had to come from the notorious Norwegian scene, which itself is burning out, has a handful of passionate releases and can only boast about a diminishing graph of the quality of albums. 1833 AD‘s first studio full-length My Dark Symphony has stamps of several bands on it. If you’d find a Burzum portion staring down at you, there is another place where Watain would knock on your door. The classy old-Immortal makes an appearance,  with Emperor and Darkthrone sprinkled here and there. Now, although inspiration is important for any band, it should not reach a point where the band is not taken seriously. Here, thankfully, only a leaf or two have been smoked. Exactly why you’d be able to relate to this record is because along with the aforementioned bands you’ll see that there are traces of some underground depressive black metal outfits you might have heard sometime.

When all this is frozen, and the tracks are wrapped with several layers of originality, that’s when you’d get the product that is named My Dark Symphony. Do not expect to understand what true to the roots means unless you’ve spent considerable amount of time putting yourself through the sweet torture that is black metal. The drug of darkness will eclipse all the non-sense in your life, and this record would come across as a stranger to you if you want just music. Because My Dark Symphony brings forth a certain state of mind which is not within everyone’s reach. Apart from being a tribute to the originators of the genre, it is a gift of rage for the fans of the genre too. 1833 AD‘s influences are in place.

Vocals

Although 1833 AD has an inspired sound, the members have held their own. The shrieks incorporated on My Dark Symphony are an assurance that the band doesn’t want to be typecasted. Vocalist Nishant Abraham is as unique as unique can be and can be best described as scraping. One cannot make a mistake in identifying Ihsahn‘s vocals, nor can you not compliment Jon Nödtveidt. There is style, and there is exclusivity. 1833 AD has both. Style that cannot be cloned, and exclusivity that will be remembered.

Well, it’s okay to get confused between Quorthon and Abbath‘s vocals. Get over the resemblance already.

Nishant pulls off a Dani scream on a song, that obviously happens when you aren’t noticing. Guess the song, and you will win nothing. The scream seems logical though unlike Dani Filth, who is nowadays seen screaming for no reason whatsoever. You agree, don’t you? You will get your money’s worth on Sephiroth’s Curse where a million dollar scream gives birth to a mysterious situation. Be prepared…

Guitars

One striking attribute carried by 1833 AD is melody. If all will fail it is the singlemindedness shared by the band and melody that is sure to provide them blowjobs. On a serious note, the shortage of black melody in India has been supplied through intense tremolo riffs, produced by the intertwining of supremely raging instruments that we know as guitars, handled by Nishant and Rahul Mehalwal. The guitar tone vents out a strong mirage of the band’s ideology. Shrilly caricatures all painted in black, will haunt the listener’s mind.

The synopsis of My Dark Symphony lies in the melodic ripples of oppression which is sure to keep you glued. Hell, the solos seem like a result of years of research as to when and where they should fit what. Go figure…

Bass

The ravenous kingdom of bass has always been tricky. While the rest of the band walks away with top honors, it becomes a difficult job for a bassist to slyly assist the drummer. On this release Sushmit Mazumdar hits the strings, and is equally dominating but could have been louder. Blame your speakers for being a bit unfriendly with the bass, or blame yourself for liking 1833 AD‘s music…

Drums

For an unrelenting black metal band, finding a drummer who shares a passionate firmness is as important as a hunter who knows when to pull the trigger. The hunter here is Raghav Sehgal. Fact is that anything (drums played perfectly, maybe?) can be recorded on an album to gel with the on-going proceedings of a song, but another fact is that this very band has reciprocated their songs during their live sessions, gathered all those horns raised towards them and have looked back with a grin. So, the drumming isn’t ‘virtual’, it is for real and is like a dagger pressed against your weak god’s neck. Heard a groovy black metal album before? My Dark Symphony would be out soon. Don’t keep your senses closed…

Songs, production and artwork

My Dark Symphony is a concept driven album (the inlay would have it all), does not contain time wasting fillers, all tracks are written to fit within a radio-friendly time period and has been produced by the fine hands of Anupam Roy (Grey Studios). Apart from the four songs that were previously released online, the album has five more full length tracks. The twelve songs are broken into three separate chapters and each chapter has one inductive song for the other three tracks that follow. Holding the written concept in your hand when being musically entertained by the record would definitely be a smart move. Speaking of which, the inlay artwork by Reuben Bhattacharya crosses borders of imagination and delves deeper into the subject of visual art.

The songs have more strengths and less weaknesses. Ma Nishada, Ten Gods and 1833 AD deserve special mentions, as they go on to show how the band has branched out post their Ep ‘End of Time‘. The song which, according to me, is a complete embodiment of venomous darkness, winning musicianship and detailed songwriting is Wiser Than The Wisest. If someone would come and ask me to name one song that defines the sound of Indian black metal I’d recommend them this herculean song. Period.

1833 AD is now confidently carrying a bright torch for the up and coming Indian black metal artists who wish to follow suite. They provide you a slice of well-adorned black metal without the gimmicks of anti-christianity, have no corpse paint to cover their weaknesses, do not encourage naked whores dancing around them on stage, and they give a fuck about their metal.

All said, I do not want to remember one of India’s only active black metal band as just a mere by-product of my favorite artists. Getting My Dark Symphony out was necessary for the band, to break even, to put forth their version of ‘ancient art’. I hope next up on the agenda is sharpening up their skills, crossing the border more often to play bigger gigs (which has already kick started), churning out another album that would take the band straight into Fenriz‘s band of the week, and the clock has already started ticking.

Rating : 4/5

[ And, this band, right here, is promising and yet unsigned. Are the record labels taking note of this? ]

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album review : Resurfaces (2011) – Goddess Gagged

album : Resurfaces

artist : Goddess Gagged

genre : Progressive Post-Hardcore

year : 2011

Post-Hardcore is exclusive, when weighed against any other genre of music. There is a hint of every aspect of life being touched upon. It’s music for the strong, for the weak, for the deprived, for the heartbroken, for the aggressive, and for the emotional lot. Many might be dampened by progressive music, for the way it reeks of twists and turns, doesn’t let the music to settle down. A combination of these two super-adverse genres is what Indian band Goddess Gagged plays. With élan.

Let’s keep aside my love for post-hardcore (my new muse, by the way) and how I love experimentation in the music I listen to. The first time you play Goddess Gagged‘s debut record Resurfaces, it assists you in taking away the claustrophobic limitations that many a times is experienced by listeners. Questions like “why did this just happen?“, “why did they do this bit?“, etc., are answered, one by one. The double guitar effect, as i would like to call it, ensues.

Very few post-Hardcore groups believe in having an intro, and the reason being they cannot wait to communicate. The outburst of riffs is deliberate so you don’t have to zoom into the happenings. Modern Machines is a torch one can use to find out the band’s hidden influences. From what they already are playing, they even touch jazz, for starters, and hence they easily tackle hurdles of amalgamating different aspects of music.

If you’ve got a bizarre fetish of grooving along with the music, even that is fulfilled by the quintet. They’ve got Rosemary’s Baby, which makes you tumble by getting into your head, banging itself and the track’s groovy. So is Sink or Swim with an innate depth in the words. There are soft moments that leave you buzzed. I love this track!

Oh, what they’ve done with Inspire is commendable, as I am holding the inlay and reading the lyrics while the song is being performed by the band on the disc. Up and down all through, and the band could have altered the way Inspire ends. Very abrupt. An epic eight minute song Preliminary Stages of the Master Plan, it sounds like another one of the songs from the same album at places. Sluggish at other times, the band would want to spend more time writing longer tracks.

Dreamer should make it to every kind of compilation album that will come out going forward. This song is the safest nest where every dreamer can lay their eggs. Be it the lyrics, the weather inside the track, the gushing out of a person’s mental state, and the music of course. While Dreamer and Visionary mean one and the same thing, there are subtleties that only a music enthusiast can spot after hearing the two tracks on Resurfaces.

Completing Resurfaces told me that progression is so evidently a key ingredient in the band’s songwriting. The complications can be heard on all their tracks and Goddess Gagged unites all progressive routes on the tracks Modern Machines, Sink or Swim and Visionary. Especially Visionary is co-operative, with a switch between clean and harsh vocals. The last one and a half minutes make the most impact, I bet.

Resurfaces was awaited for the right reasons. It’s a record that encapsulates so many things that revolve around your existence. Hence, it’s a flow. Produced by Zorran Mendonsa, the album has a sound that only helps the songs shine and as a listener I’m satisfied. And Siddharth, you take the listener on a trip with your vocals, man.

By buying Resurfaces you are not helping the band, but yourself, to know your capabilities, to dream, to achieve, to inspire and to emerge out of the shell of asinine notions. Yes, Resurfaces is metal, but no, it is not just for metal lovers. That’s an assurance. And hey, they’ve dropped a hint about their next release here, which hopefully would be their master plan.

Rating : 4/5

Use protection the next time you have sex, else the album won’t be delivered to you. Order it from here. The album, I mean.

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Ep review : Abominate. Annihilate. (2011) – Dark Carnage

ep : Abominate. Annihilate.

artist : Dark Carnage

genre : Melodic Death Metal / Progressive / Math Metal

year : 2011

Written entirely to get back at everything that is wrong around us, Guwahati-based Dark Carnage has dived into the scene with their own brand of logically progressive and melodic dark metal. A leaf out of their book will amount to several genres being payed tribute to, each of them being allowed into their record through this band’s personal invitation.

When musicians have mood swings they produce an extended play that sounds like Abominate. Annihilate. The Ep begins on a blissful note with strums at a brisk pace, accompanied by harmonious keyboards. I wished for The Unfolding to continue but then I realized that this is not what Dark Carnage is here to do. Ironically enough the first forty seconds on Tyrannical Generation go easy on you. Post that there is an undeniable surge where in things take a sudden dark twist. In true metal-style, Dark Carnage plays host to a ceremony of fast-paced darkness. Mind you, dark here is a blend of goth, black, melody and math.

While the song does start to give one a feeling of heard-this-somewhere, the band holds the harness and begins playing the unexpected. Now that is where originality steps in and we sight progression. Undead Redemption and Deathmarch Destruction are hurried math metal tracks. The manner in which the pawns are toppled here is illustrious with the credit going to those ballsy riffs. A derivative of all their influences, the last track Acrimony of Terrorism sets the record straight. I love this track for it’s complexity, the originality, the flow and for it’s replay factor. I can play this track over and over again considering it is beyond just metal, it is a lot of music.

Through controlled structuring the neatness is maintained in the tracks, and I now have a lot of expectations from this band. Few vocals variations would do good to the band. The drummer hits it hard enough for Dark Carnage, and the synth plays the same role for this band that our heart plays for us pathetic humans. If this is the level of math-ness the band has imbibed on their debut then up next it should be totally over our heads and I am seriously hoping for a cracker. I personally like the sound produced by Lucid Recess Studio and they’ve used their hands well on this Ep.

Abominate. Annihilate. is an instance of noteworthy metal from the north-east and all those people who cry foul on forums about bands from their area not being favored should just relax. Because if the music and determination is on display from the artist’s side then all attention automatically shifts to them. So if someone, by will, does not want to fill themselves up with metal that has been done justifiably well then the least that can be done by you is to just pick up the album and play it as loud as you can. Then it would serve every purpose.

These youngsters from Dark Carnage are out to get you. They promise to abominate you with their instruments, they have decided to annihilate you with their music, so it would only be fair on your part to just surrender.

Rating : 3.5/5

Check out this review at Indian Rock Mp3 here : Ep review : Abominate. Annihilate. (2011) – Dark Carnage

Also read : Ep review : Dirt Beyond Beauty (2010) – Silver Tears


Metal Decade for India

Prelude –

Coming December would mark the last month of the decade and such things have never elated me. But this year it would be different. I have been a part of a movement, I have seen it all happen and I feel proud. Rounding up an epic decade for the Indian metal scene are some bands that had to be watched before resting in peace.

Two Thousand and Seven : The Penetration –

Although the first half was sulky it was 2007 when Iron Maiden decided to seal each of those person’s ass who thought metal does not exist in India. It was Rock in India’s first gig and it turned out to be a massive gig that got down metalheads not only from our nation but the neighbouring ones. I was infact almost crushed in that hysteric crowd. In 2008, they followed it up with another gig that marked the start of a world tour of the kind even they had not done before. And this brought all the remaining and much needed attention to India. Everything was noticed and things got to the other side of the world too. Thanks to Sam Dunn. Since then Maiden has played thrice in India. Both times I attended Bangalore and had missed the Bombay one. Sepultura did a three city tour in two thousand and seven itself and are yet to make their second trip.

Back in 2006 Great Indian Rock had invited Enslaved to Delhi and I was not as fortunate as the ones who saw them then. That ofcourse is history now. And we owe a lot to the first Maiden concert.

Since then we have had a spate of international gigs featuring bands that had made us pull out our hair and left us frustrated for not being blessed enough to be able to watch them. But now when I look back and think about the 3 years that have passed by I realize that a lot has happened around me. I no longer feel negative about the fact that I was born in India. If I chronicle the bands that arrived with their gears to perform in India I read a whole bunch of names – Iron Maiden, Megadeth, SepulturaLamb of God, Opeth, Satyricon, Ensiferum, Amon Amarth, Enslaved, EluveitieSahg, Machine Head, Hammerfall, Nervecell, TexturesRudra, De Profundis. Totally not bad.

Two Thousand and Eight –

In 2008, Dave Mustaine and troupe hit India to play a one-off gig following the release of United Abominations. This was the second edition of Rock in India and they were going strong. The only band out of the big four to have played India, Megadeth have not returned yet so I haven’t been given a chance to make up for my mistake of not going for their 2008 Bangalore gig. American band Machine Head had played alongside Megadeth. Although I had not heard more than one album of Machine Head before their gig, I did have the hangover of missing the whole event.

The same year India got a taste of how a live Norwegian black metal act looks and seems when they perform live. Satyricon headlined GIR-2008. I remember posing as a fake journalist and roaming around the lobby of this hotel they were put up in. Sick days. Saw Frost and did not get scared. Drank beer with King and even felt like one. Heavy doom band Sahg had supported Satyricon for the tour and I had comfortably made it to the front row for their set as only a few were interested. Thanks a lot, Amit Sehgal. Two months from then Ensiferum took the stage at this event named Livewire which is a part of a popular annual festival Mood Indigo hosted by IIT, Bombay. Along came some folk/viking music and many around me did not have as much as a clue of what this genre is. But they sure did dance to the tunes. It was the last song when a twenty-something me jumped the barricade, climbed the stage, headbanged and even exited with them. Good fun.

Two Thousand and Nine –

Opeth played the Saarang fest at IIT Chennai (early-2009), Hammerfall played the same venue in early-2010, Rudra played at ISM Dhanbad in March-2009. I missed all three of these gigs as they happened at godforsaken places. Rudra played at Dhanbad, Jharkhand. Really? But Rudra had played Bombay and Delhi in 2001, something I did not of and The Demonstealer did.

Swedish-band Amon Amarth headlined Deccan Rock Festival ’09 and melo-death came to India from where it should have come from. Also sharing the stage were progressive metal band Textures.

Two Thousand Ten and onwards –

By far 2010 has been an eventful year. Folk metal band Eluveitie travelled from Switzerland to IIT Guwahati’s annual festival in February. Rock in India organizers with a metal history paid Backstreet Boys to perform on the same platform as Iron Maiden and Megadeth. To overcome this serious blow Overture India debuted with an event as big as Lamb of God for the Summer Storm festival, Bangalore ’10. And it’s not been long since Nervecell‘s Preaching Venom India tour. I can wait for the next international act as my culture has taught me to wait. 2010 even saw Indian bands DR, Scribe and Kryptos finally breaking the mould when they went international. DR played a dream gig at Inferno festival Norway along with Scribe. Then DR played Brutal Assault festival Czech Republic. Kryptos left for a short European tour and have their dates booked for gigs next year too. All this happened in this very decade.

In the coming two months we have a lot of super gigs lined-up and I am totally kicked about them. Dates for Cynic, Meshuggah, Enslaved and Katatonia’s gigs are fast approaching. Maybe work commitments would not permit me to attend each one of them but then this is what is the state of Indian metal scene in the initial few years of it getting noticed. Don’t I have a lifetime to attend all the concerts that are definitely going to happen in India? Finally I have something good to say about our nation.

And the article would be incomplete without mentioning Katatonia separately. Totally my kind of music and so damn abundant. Hats off to the people who know of such music’s existence and are getting them down for us. There might be a tepid response for Katatonia but that would not in any way reduce the significance of this milestone event.

I would again say all this is just the beginning. It’s been just three years and bands are eager to make it to a new destination – India and fans here say they were always as loyal as they are now. Cheers!


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