Ah, Nepal. The land of beautiful folk music, gorgeous women, amazing Himalayan landscapes, brilliant food… and two of the most vicious Metallic Hardcore bands polluting the airwaves in modern times. What am I talking about? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am referring to the unrelenting fury contained within the sound of Jugaa and Sangharsha, two Nepali Hardcore bands. The two groups are musically devastating in their own right but when combined on a split release, the results are just earth-shattering. Really, this is the type of music that could cause an avalanche of epic proportions in Nepal’s native mountain ranges.
Musically, both bands share the same core influences but some key differences ensure that neither band sounds too similar to the other. Even lyrically, the topics discussed are similar – the decay of society seems to be the dominant theme here. The similarities in the two bands are not all that surprising once you take into account the fact that Vishal of Jugaa and Kshitiz of Sangharsha played ina punk rock band in the early 2000’s as well called “Inside 2 Stoopid Triangles” but as I said there are some differences that set both bands apart and make them unique on their own as well. And with all due respect to I2ST, this is not some fun punk rock. This is dead serious hardcore.
Since Sangharsha’s side of the split comes in at first, I’ll place them under the microscope first. Sangharsha is total mosh music, barring the second half of Ekata of course – which sees them delving into sludge/noise. Their statement becomes clear with the opening track – a cover of Integrity’s Vocal Test. Crunchy, thick, and howling screams topped off by extremely clear drums and bass. The production is about as good as you can get for this kind of hardcore. Musically, there’s a healthy dose of metal influences but this is heavy hardcore all the way through. No bullshit, no gimmicks, just music to re-arrange faces to. Indeed, compared to Jugaa the sound is probably more definitive of the route hardcore music is taking in the modern world. But along with their extremely potent and witty songcrafting – the middle sound sample in Insaniyaat as an example – and with their exclusively Nepali lyrics, no one would fault Sangharsha of being ‘generic’ or ‘rehashed’ like most dime a dozen hardcore bands. In fact, the way they involved Nepali – a language from the Indo-Aryan family tree (which also includes Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, etc) – into music of such heavy and extreme nature without resorting to generic themes of love, patriotism, and the other generic themes that plague the music made in these North Indian languages – inspired me too. Sangharsha show everyone in the subcontinent that you CAN make extreme music in your own local language.
Jugaa are a personal favorite band of mine these days, let me just say that. These guys have some of the most badass riffs you will find in hardcore music today, irrespective of race, country, continent, whatever. In fact, some of the European and North American hardcore bands should listen to Jugaa and take some notes. Musically they are a lot more metal influenced than Sangharsha. The riff-centric approach to songwriting, the headbangability of the music, the death metal styled vocals, the dark grim atmosphere of their music and the raw production will definitely catch the attention of as much metalheads as it would of hardcore kids. Imagine if Aussie hardcore band Mindsnare and early 90’s metallic hardcore pioneers Ringworm got it on while a younger version of Hatebreed taped it and passed it on to the lads from Obituary and Entombed, and with the tape finally reaching some grim black metallers in Norway albeit in a more low-fi form. That’s Jugaa’s sound in a nutshell. But despite the metalness, this is still ruthless, aggressive hardcore that takes no prisoners. Jugaa fittingly finish their side on the album with a cover of Ringworm’s Birth in Pain, after two absolutely insane songs in Come the Winter and Vultures Will Feed, complimenting Sangharsha’s selection of Integrity’s Vocal Test as their cover.
In conclusion – I say this without any kind of bias that this is one of the finest hardcore/metallic hardcore releases you will hear in this day and age. Doesn’t matter if you’re a thrasher, grinder, hardcore kid, death metal kinda guy or just someone who likes both the extreme wings of metal and punk – listen to this. There’s something for everyone here. AND, after this review I’m gonna be reviewing both band’s individual discographies as well so watch out for that!!
Final Rating: 9/10
(Additional note: I find the selections for their covers pretty interesting. Both Integrity and Ringworm are legends of the Holy Terror scene, but after a lot of extensive listening, Sangharsha definitely comes across as more of an “Integrity” type of band at least on this release, with their more subtle intake of metallic influences while Jugaa owes a lot to Ringworm musically and especially in the riff-based approach that makes them appeal to metalheads. Maybe the two should start a “Hamal Terror” scene, haha!)
Originally written in 2012 for The Bamboo Shots by Hassan Dozakhi.