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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!


gig review : Dinner is a Lie tour 2010 (Bombay leg) featuring Albatross, Devoid and Nervecell

Witnessing a good metal gig unfold in front of you can get you back in shape. Dinner is a lie tour had Indian metal bands Albatross and Devoid launching their albums and Dubai-based Nervecell breaking bones. After not finding enough people to do so in Bangalore and Hyderabad, I am sure Nervecell was disappointed by the live metal scene in India until they came to Bombay for the last leg of the tour. More than four hundred interested metalheads landed at Blue Frog for this indoor gig.

Blue Frog has been a host to many a gigs that have happened here in the near past and is a venue that leaves you satisfied. Thanks to the free mints at the entry.

Devoid

Alright, the gig was to begin at 9 p.m. and it started half an hour after that. The venue looked pretty filled and the opening band Devoid was to take the stage. An album launch can be a great high and the proud members of Devoid stood there while the intro to their album was played. Song after song the band played their entire album in order. With their original guitarist Keshav present, the band put up a strong show before the current guitarist Sanju completed their set. While Devoid belted their originals the crowd forgot the fact that there is a tomorrow they have to live for. Getting the otherwise wasted bouncers back to work, there was a maddening response to Devoid complete with crowd and stage surfing. And that is so metal. Sound-wise the band was really tight and on the console was Fali Damania who will be thanked more than once here.

albatross

Albatross was next. Debuting in Bombay is quite a task and that showed in the band’s performance. The band played the entire Ep along with a cover song which was Ozzy Osbourne‘s Mr. Crowley. The crowd reacted a bit coldly but the band did get heads bobbing towards the end. Tightening up is all that is needed as no band has ever owned a crowd on their debut.

It was time for the headlining band and Nervecell‘s monstrous members left little space for any non-sense on stage. Making metal instruments seem small and cute because of their personalities, the moment they began I bet even a blind person would have known where the sound is coming from. They were brilliantly brutal and tight and they made it clear what it takes to tour with bands like Deicide and Suffocation.

Nervecell

This is how their setlist looked like :

Flesh and Memories
Human Chaos
Existence Ceased
Demean
Vicious Circle of Bloodshed
Bolt Thrower cover
Demolition

Very loud, these lovers of old school death were impressed by the response they got. Naming Bombay as the metal capital of India was one thing while asking metalheads to mosh unrelentingly and still watchout for each other was another. Many woke up to the beauty of thrash death metal, and credit goes to Nervecell.

Thanks to Gigbox for the gig, Blue Frog for the venue equipped with some great acoustics and light arrangements, Ayan De for the spectacular visuals on the screens, Sahil Makhija, Demonstealer Records and Fali Damania. The sound contract for my marriage as well as my funeral goes to you. All in all it was a fun gig and an experience that will be remembered for the longest time. It is gigs like these that actually make me want to live longer.

[All the saliva-dripping pictures included here have been clicked by Pratika Prabhune (bass, clean vocals – Chronic Phobia)]

Here’s a video of Nervecell playing Demolition at Blue Frog, Bombay.


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