Solar Deity Interview

Solar Deity is a Black Metal band from Mumbai, India, that describes itself as a “Satanic Black Metal” band. Frontman and main songwriter Aditya Mehta has been involved with Mumbai’s Death Metal scene with his past bands, which ensured that he already had somewhat of a reputation when Solar Deity was first initiated. Their music has been well-liked by this blog/zine for a while now, and you can read our review of their most recent release “Devil Worship” here. After delaying a possible interview for many months, I finally got in touch with Aditya and we discussed the band’s future, along with his new vegan beliefs.

 

 

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– Hey Aditya! How’s everything going?

 

Hey Hassan! It’s going quite okay.

 

 

– Solar Deity has been on the quiet side since “Devil Worship” was released in the latter half of 2013. What’s been going on?

 

We were busy with other stuff. Also, having to change the lineup every now and then was a bit of a drag.

 

 

– There has been significant musical evolution in SD’s music, with the musical style flirting with different styles in every release. Where do you see the sound going on future stuff?

 

It’ll go ambient/depressive and back to the traditional style and then to something very raw and intense… there’s a lot we want to do. Solar Deity can go any way as long as it’s black metal.

 

 

– Initially SD was not a live act, yet you made the transition from the studio to the stage – complete with an elaborate live act and stage presence. What has the live experience been thus far?

 

I enjoyed our first Bombay concert (at Blue Frog) the most. Playing live is fun and so is jamming with the band, but it’s terribly boring having to sit around at home playing the same shit over and over… but playing to an audience does feel good.

 

 

 

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– Did the songwriting process change much when the band went from being just primarily you (and a drummer) to having a full lineup?

 

No, because I composed all the stuff. It will change now because both Niraj Singh Chauhan and I are writing songs. You’ll hear my stuff and you’ll hear his stuff and when we write stuff together you’ll hear that.

 

 

– Let’s talk about Exhumation. Your old Death Metal band created a reputation for itself in the old Mumbai metal scene of the 2000s. Do you still feel an affinity with that sort of music?

 

I still love death metal and all those bands we used to listen to. I still listen to them and I understand and enjoy and respect death metal even more now. My favorite memories of Exhumation are those of the fun times I shared with those guys and of us making the music.

 

 

– Your outspoken nature has caused a lot of your opinions on the Indian metal scene to cause a lot of controversy in the past. What’s your take on the Indian scene as it currently stands?

 

Thanks to Facebook everybody can see what exactly is happening. We don’t get too many shows but that’s okay – the others in Solar Deity understand that I am the guy who has to do all this. The rest of the scene is welcome to continue being diplomatic and they can suck each other off till the end of eternity. I don’t sit on Facebook waiting for people to go wrong so that I can point it out; I’ve never asked anyone to buy my music or merch and I won’t be asking the kids to crowdfund my wedding or my children’s education either. I’ve lost friends and made enemies only because I love all that metal is about. I don’t care about being popular or respected, and I don’t go around asking organizers to put my band on the bill. I don’t have a fucking agenda, man. Somebody has to take the trash out and in these circumstances I am one of the four or five people doing that. It’s like five people trying to keep an entire city clean, heh. Devdutt Nawalkar (Old Disgruntled Bastard) is my favorite critic and he doesn’t give a fuck what anybody thinks. A few other people who rant either have nothing to lose or do it anonymously, and that’s fine too – other musicians attack the poseurs anonymously because they don’t want their bands to be affected. I don’t do shit anonymously and I don’t give a shit about what hipsters think of me either but sadly my haters take it out on my band as they have no other way of teaching me a lesson. It’s okay, though… in battle there is no law. Ahahaha, the butt-hurt poseurs… FUCK THEM ALL.

 

 

– It’s become common knowledge that you’re a vegan now. How does this tie in with your Satanist belief system, and how does this impact your music?

 

I feel even more extreme now, haha! One of the things about Satanism is that it doesn’t let you bullshit yourself or others, and I really couldn’t pretend to be unaffected about where our food comes from. I debated with myself for a few years about if I should go vegetarian and now I know I was only trying to justify my meat-eating. I realize that every reason I gave myself for not going vegetarian was code for: I want meat, cheese, eggs and dairy. I’m glad that argument is over. As for the music – all the new black metal stuff was composed much before I turned vegan, but maybe the side projects will tell you something!

 

 

 

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– Solar Deity recently got into some kind of deal with Transcending Obscurity, Kunal’s label. Can you elaborate a bit on what that basically entails?

 

Kunal Choksi is going to release a mini discography of what we’ve made so far on Transcending Obscurity because he thinks our music deserves more recognition. It’ll have a new layout and bonus material and KC has big plans for it. We’re very kicked about it.

 

 

– What’s next for the band? A split? A full length album? More EP’s?

 

A split with Djinn & Miskatonic! Our next EP will have to wait because we have the mini discog on Transcending Obscurity and the split with Djinn & Miskatonic coming up.

 

 

– I wouldn’t think you have much time for sideprojects nowadays. Anything on the cards, however?

 

Yeah, I’ve been talking about a lot of stuff. I’m going to get off my ass and make at least Angry Dwarf happen this year.

 

 

– Thanks for the interview, Aditya! Take care.

 

Thanks, Hassan!

 

 

SD Live

 

Solar Deity Official Website

Solar Deity on Facebook

Solar Deity on Bandcamp

Being A Hardcore Punk Band In Bombay: The Riot Peddlers

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India almost never saw the words “Hardcore” and “Punk” being used in the same sentence, let alone a clause or phrase. The term “Hardcore” became synonymous with metalcore bands that did not enjoy the Devil Wears Prada or any other metal band that associated themselves with tight pants. Hardcore, for the average Indian metalhead was, put bluntly, an impure form of metal that they found too light. “Punk” in India was an even bigger joke than “Hardcore”. If you knew two chord progressions and your drummer hated playing anything fast or creative, you could form a punk band and state the Ramones as your primary influence. Soon enough, punk rock in India became about not wanting to go school and pseudo-political songs about how politicians are limitlessly greedy and evil (I know, so original and not thought of before). Any previous ideals that Henry Rollins and Ian Macaye spoke about for hours on end were made terribly obsolete as Indian punk band turned to the extreme right and complained against immigration (in a city made of immigrants). During this time, I was your average Indian teenager, hoping to do his post-grad outside India just so that he could be part of a legitimate scene.

 

 

It was around this time that the Riot Peddlers began to appear on Ennui.bomb compilations and show line-ups. I remember my excessively condescending metalhead friend (considerable older) telling me that he saw “my type of folk playing fast and complaining” at some show he was at. I followed this claim by explaining to him my disillusionment with both “Hardcore” and “Punk” music in the country, to which he replied, “I don’t know, one of them has a Mohawk”.

 

 

 

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Soon enough, I discovered the Riot Peddlers for myself. They played old school hardcore punk and consisted mainly of Arun Ravi on guitar and vocals and Ashwin Dutt on drums, whom we remember from the days of Kinky Ski Munkys and Pin Drop Violence. They had more than one bassists, including Frank Pawar, currently of Atmosfear, whose sheer muscle mass was more than the combined weight of other two members plus their equipment combined.

 

 

The music that the Riot Peddlers played was perhaps too stripped down and away from the convention you spotted in and around the city for them too gain an outstanding support. With just a hint of New York Metallic Hardcore, the Riot Peddlers played a raw take on 80’s hardcore, complete with angry D-beats and even angrier guitars. But perhaps the angriest things about the Riot Peddlers were Arun’s vocals and lyrics. The Riot Peddlers were pissed at everything from begging to Bollywood. At the risk of romanticizing too much, the Riot Peddlers became the musical equivalent of that lonely kid at the show, who stood outside when the next band was coming on and told the closest person he could find about how pissed he was about all the bullshit everywhere. If an unsuspecting non-Indian listener stumbles upon the Riot Peddlers, he/she will basically understand what Bombay is all about, cutting out all the preachy, cheesy crap.

 

 

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What the Peddlers were to the scene was another thing. After initially playing a bunch of college fest, they went on to play Control Alt Delete, Independence Rock and make a mark, being the first truly punk band in a scene of musicians who sold their souls to hipsters and corporate backing. Unfortunately, while their impact was substantial, it never enough to stir up a specialized punk scene. However, what the band did do was lay a foundation for musical and lyrical freedom, something musicians in the coming years would unknowingly benefit. At least, this is what the band did for me.

 

 

“We shouted about a few issues. And got back to our day jobs like every other Indian. Nothing much” says drummer Ashwin Dutt, “If you aren’t playing anything close to Green Day or Blink 182, you don’t have an audience. The bigger issue was we were too noisy for the alternative / electro crowd and too mellow for the metalheads. I remember a bassist asking me, ‘How is your comedy band doing? I really like the way you address issues using humour’. That’s the Indian scene for you.”

 

 

Things continued in this sense for the Riot Peddlers in this manner for a while. They played in Delhi twice and played around in Bombay. And suddenly they were gone. Erased from our scene that just wanted to see electro bands do the same thing time and again. Perhaps we’ll look back in the future and throw around a few compliments about how great the Peddlers were. Arun didn’t get enough time cause of work and Ashwin reflects on what happened. “I guess the bigger challenge is to do something about the issues you talk about. Not just sit there playing your guitar and moaning about issues. You can’t change the situation. Everyone is sitting in front of their computers and tweeting and updating status messages. There is no one when it comes to helping someone or being part of movement. I guess punk musicians are pretty shallow” says the man who only appears scary till you actually speak to him, “And that’s the reason I resigned from playing punk. Or at least the Peddlers.”

 

 

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– Vrishank Menon

Gutslit – Skewered In The Sewer (2013)

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Brutal Death Metal is a bit of a self-parodying genre these days. The bands are either too “slammy” or too “technical,” with intelligent songwriting being put aside for either an over-abundance of slams, or pointless technical guitar wankery. There are pockets of scenes worldwide that still manage to hold down the crafty nature of the mid-90s til mid-2000s era of Brutal Death Metal – Indonesia certainly springs to mind – but the genre generally fails to keep the interest of the average metal fan these days. This is where Gutslit come into the picture. Hailing from Mumbai’s reputed metal scene that has spawned the likes of Exhumation, Albatross, Solar Deity, among others, Gutslit manage to do more than just casually grab the listener’s attention – they force him/her to take notice.

 

 

Starting off their debut full length album with a typical metal album intro, Gutslit get straight into the pummeling with the track “Pustulated Phallic Enthrallment.” The song gives a good window-view into the world of Gutslit. Catchy chunky riffs aligned with a truly inhuman rhythm section lead the way for the entirety of the proceedings. The rhythm section in particular needs to be given props – the drumming is truly barbaric, and the bass-playing is equally eloquent… a word that doesn’t pop up much for the bass-guitar in this genre of music. Immediate hints of Dying Fetus or Benighted can be caught by the average metal ear, and there’s a subtle Cryptopsy element in the name (“Slit Your Guts,” anyone?) that manifests in the technically strong bass-playing as well – but Gutslit is pretty much Gutslit most of the time. The song structures are fairly simple – keep it bulldozing through, keep the vocal patterns simple, add in the sudden little technical flair for variety, keep the music grooving no matter what, and then throw in an absolutely colossal breakdown. A perfect formula, when you get the riffs right – and the riffs here are ridiculously infectious, especially the well-placed breakdowns/slam parts that could rival even the best in Devourment‘s debut album. Speaking of breakdowns, the ones on “Offal Barter, “ and “Atrophic Cranial Disintegration” almost had me couch-moshing and charpai-jumping in my kurta and shalwar. As far as individual tracks go within terms of overall memorability, “Maze of Entrails” takes the entire bloody cake. That’s not to say the other tracks are overweight slouches. They’re all excellent and the replay value for this little album is immense. The fact that it’s just around 26 minutes means that it’s guaranteed repeated listens. If you find yourself blasting this album continuously, don’t be surprised. Gutslit combine individual skill with compact, aggressive and deliberately catchy songwriting in a manner that most metal fans probably haven’t seen since the early works of Gorerotted or Aborted.

 

 

I have no qualms with the production either. I’ve heard some criticism about it before, but it’s suitably clear and filthy at the same time for this kind of music. The mixing and sound-levels here are near-perfect, among the best kind of mix job I’ve heard in an Indian band to be honest. Though with this band, the quality shouldn’t just be compared to other Indian metal. Hell, with this level of technical proficiency and expert songwriting, replete with catchy and crunchy breakdowns – this band could easily be from anywhere in the planet. When you’re listening to music as good as this, location becomes secondary. The only thing that matters is the bludgeoning force of the music.

 

 

 

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Gutslit on Facebook

Listen to Gutslit’s “Skewered in the Sewer” on Bandcamp.

Gutslit Interview

Gutslit are an Indian Brutal Death Metal band who’ve been making waves in the international death metal circuit since the release of their debut album last year. They’re a part of a new breed of South Asian metal acts that have managed to break cultural barriers and gather the interest of metalheads across the world as well as their home base in Mumbai, India, and it was a pleasure to talk to their bassist and sole original member Gurdip. We talk about the band, their new label Transcending Obscurity as well as metal in South Asia.

 

 

 

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– Hey, hope you’re doing well. Thanks for the interview!
Hey Hassan. Thank you for this. Hope you’re doing great.

 

 
– It’s been an eventful past year for Gutslit with the album release, the big gigs, as well as getting signed onto Transcending Obscurity. Do you have high hopes for 2014?
Well yes, 2013 was big and we are working hard to make 2014 even bigger.
We have two huge festivals that we are playing at.
One being the biggest grind fest in the world, Obscene Extreme Festival in Czech Republic and the other Death Feast in Germany.
Alongside that, we are working very hard to get a new 4 way split out too.
Hopefully that should work out well too.

 

 
– You guys are working on some upcoming split, do you wish to shed some light on it?
Yes. It’s a 4 way split with 3 other International bands of relative genres, yet different.
I would love to share more, but I’m waiting for a few things to fall in place and once that is done, I shall make everything public. I’m just being cautious and yet the wait.

 

 
– “Skewered In the Sewer” was full of hard hitting yet catchy brutal/slam death metal tracks, with the songs written mostly by ex-guitarist/founding member Dynell. How does that affect the writing process for the future, knowing that one of the men who contributed to the band’s key sound since the nascent days is no longer in the band?
It was quite difficult for us to let go of Dynell. But as he said, God has a different plan for him, we couldn’t challenge much beyond that.
We were on the verge of calling it quits, but luckily found Prateek who happened to be an guitarist with an amazing grasping power, feel and ultimately love for the music.
Things do go slow when you change members or member in any band, but this kid worked as fast as Aaron’s blasts and got done with our old songs in matter of days or probably a few weeks. There was no stopping then. A new tone is definitely what will be different. After all every guitarist or musician has his own style and feel. The structures are fresh and quite chunky. The new songs we have written with him are faster, tighter and more fun.
I’d say, it’s a positive move forward.
Rest is upto our fans and you guys to decide how our new material sounds.

 

 

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– A lot of reviewers have pointed out how your bass-playing style sets Gutslit a notch above most Indian bands – especially since a lot of people don’t seem to take the instrument seriously. Who influenced your bass style and do you have any pointers for other Indian kids picking up a bass?
For me personally, it was sheer love for the instrument and this style of music. I do have a fusion band for all my mellow parts, but in Gutslit it’s purely business of ‘carnage and butchery’ and business is in my blood.
I’m quite nobody to be advising people. But I do appreciate the kind words. It means a lot.

 

 
– Playing at Obscene Extreme will no doubt be one of the highlights of your days in the metal scene. How did the whole thing come about? How were you contacted? Which bands are you looking forward to playing alongside/seeing at the fest?
Curby is an old friend and an inspiration for me. That man has done what even big companies can’t do it. For people who don’t know, you should sit with him and talk to him about his life.
He started from nothing and now hosts shows in 4 continents. Even the biggest festivals can’t manage to pull that off.
We were up on the bill at OEF 2011 as well. But lot of issues happened in personal lives of our former band members plus we had some visa glitch that was out of our control. Ultimately we had to back out. But this year, we have everything in place and hopefully the visa shouldn’t be a problem.
We look forward to playing with everybody. I personally have so many favourites that I can’t seem to just pick names. It’s like a kid in a chocolate and toy factory, combined.

 

 
– How do you feel about South Asian metal growing in prominence lately? Bands such as Orator from Bangladesh have been invited to Maryland DeathFest too, which shows that the international community is finally taking notice of the Subcontinent metal scene.
Subcontinent metal is very powerful and very strong. The only thing is that it wasn’t heard enough and plus the quality of production was inferior. But things have changed now.
The only thing which makes it difficult for bands to travel a lot are the expenses. Flights to Europe and America for example are quite expensive making it difficult even for fests to be able to get a lot of south east Asian or Asian bands to such venues.
But for bands who place passion over anything else, there are ways even those ends can be met with. Everybody in this world who is into extreme metal music needs a steady job or source of income if you want to get going without sulking much about the scene not feeding your family.

 

 

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– Tell us a bit about Transcending Obscurity and the platform it provides for local bands with the upcoming fest, as well as its general label/zine activities.
Kunal Choksi, the man behind Transcending Obscurity has been a good old friend even before he ventured and tried his hand with Indian bands and shows. I personally know him with his former label, Diabolical Conquest and the days when getting even a good underground band CD to India would mean going through a bitch of things. But he just managed it all really well.
With TO, he has taken things a notch higher. He has signed up a lot of Indian promising acts for their releases and is helping around a lot of new and old acts to get a platform to play at.
With him around, we are assured of being heard where it matters, getting our music out to people who would really love this style of music, which in itself means a lot.
The shows organized are brilliant. More than half a dozen bands on one night and with a deserving sound and relative setup, it’s perfect. Kudos to the man.

 

 
– What were your favorite albums of 2013 and which ones are you looking forward to in 2014?
I really loved Gorguts’s release of 2013, also Katalepsy were amazing, as always. Carcass was very good too. Personal favourites: Defeated Sanity, I just love that band.
2014: I’ve heard Dying Fetus are releasing something. Can’t wait for that. Even Cannibal Corpse, Cattle Decapitation might have something coming up.
Even Gutslit might have a few good songs coming your way 😉

 

 
– Thanks for your time Gurdip! Keep up the good work.
Thank you so much bro. Means a lot and hope to see you soon someday.

 

 

 

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Gutslit on Facebook

Listen to Gutslit’s “Skewered in the Sewer” on Bandcamp.

 

 

 

– Hassan Dozakhi

Sceptre Interview

Sceptre are one of India’s oldest Thrash bands and are still active today – currently in their 16th year since their founding. That enough is something that gets me curious. How the hell does  a band survive for nearly 2 decades in one of the most inconsistent places in the world – South Asia? Their dedication hasn’t let up at all and their 2nd album, released last year entitled “The Age of Calamity” is a ferocious high-octane collection of thrash anthems that deal primarily with women’s rights in India. It’s a very unique take for a thrash band to have, especially in this part of the world. Honesty, integrity and consistency is what drives this band despite many line-up changes and I interview drummer and founding member Aniket ahead of their appearance in Thrashfest by Transcending Obscurity.

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– Hey Aniket. How’s the preparations for Thrashfest comin’ along?

Hey buddy…greetings to our brothers in Pakistan! We are simply itching to set foot on stage for Thrashfest!

 

 

 

– Sceptre had its 15th anniversery in December of 2013. Despite so many lineup changes – including a change in vocalist – you’re still going strong. How does it feel? What have the prominent highs and lows been?

It sure feels awesome. I mean there have been a million times when we felt like hanging our boots, but we’ve realised whatever we have achieved as a band is too hard to ignore. We’ve had our share of great moments as well as some shitty ones. Our proudest moment was when we won Independence Rock in 2003. That was the beginning of something big for us…radio interviews, tv appearances, modelling for a local fashion brand etc…this apart from the numerous gigs we played all across the country. We’ve tackled a lot of problems, but the one that probably shook the boat a bit, was definitely our founder member and vocalist Teemeer quitting in 2010. But we’ve overcome that and completed our 15th anniversary!

 

 

 

– Usually, it’s the band’s guitarists who define the sound of the band. Keeping in mind the roting lineup of guitarist (and more recently, vocalist), has the band’s sound changed much?

Yes!! It has changed..and how. Every band has to give something new to it’s audience. We did just that. We changed the sound of the guitars, roped in a vocalist who has a totally different singing style than the one we had before and Voila!…we sounded pretty fucking heavy. A lot of people thought we went ‘metal-core’, but then we never really cared what we were labelled as.

 

 

 

– Despite being around for 15 years, you’ve only put out 2 albums in 2008 and 2013, including an EP in 1999. Any reason for the lack of studio activity? Do you plan on ammending this in the near future?

Fuck me sideways…that question has been haunting us since a while now! Hahaha…but seriously, we never gave recording albums a serious thought. We were so damn happy playing live and getting accolades from everyone, that somewhere i guess it slipped through our minds. Also, the band went through it’s own set of tribulations which also caused delay in recording an album. But yeah…we’ll try to record more frequently i guess!

 

 

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– Sceptre’s latest album – Age of Calamity – seems to have 2 different artworks. The bandcamp one is different from the other ones floating around on the internet. Why’s that?

I’ll be very honest here. The first artwork didn’t come out the way we visualised it. But since we were in a hurry to release it for the album launch gig, we went ahead with it. Now for our 15th anniversary we chose a girl who could understand the concept better and she came out with a masterpiece. That’s the story.

 

 

 

– The band definitely has a humanitarian touch to it. While most bands are content with just screaming about social issues in their lyrics, Sceptre went one step further against women exploitation and actually sent proceedings of the sales to a girl’s orphanage. Where does that edge come from?

Allow me to correct you here..we are still in talks with an NGO regarding a part of the album sales being shared. In fact just today morning i was talking to them. It’s just a matter of days now before we officially announce it. That said, we have always discussed socially relevant issues in our songs. Be it ‘Charred’ …a song we wrote about the evils of smoking/doping (none of us smoke or dope in the band) or the recent ‘Lest we Forget’ which deals with the debacle of 26/11 . But the thought behind ‘Age of Calamity’ arose  from some really disturbing incidents which women, specially in India, were prime victims of. What i found even more sickening was the indolence of the law-makers. Also, being a father of a 4 year old daughter gave more clarity to my thoughts!

 

 

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– How does the songwriting process for the band usually work? How are the songs made?

The song-writing process is very open-for-all. Everybody brings something new to the table. Our guitarist , Gilroy Fernandes comes up with a riff. Sometimes it’s our bassist, Janus Sayal too who composes the main riff. Then it’s either me or Samron Jude, our vocalist who pen the words. Simple as that

 

 

 

– You’ve been around a long time and have seen a lot of bands come and go. What bands define Indian Metal for you from the current (and older) scene?

There were a lot of bands we started out with who have disbanded and have gone their own ways. But there are bands who have shown ‘metal’ is serious business. Bands like Bhayanak Maut, Demonic Ressurection, Zygnema etc have put India on the international front. I think these bands are doing a fabulous job and are continuing to do so.

 

 

 

– What do you think of endeavors like Thrashfest by Transcending Obscurity? Any particular band you’re looking forward to sharing the stage with?

I think it’s a pretty commendable job by Mr. Kunal Choksi to get all these kickass bands under one roof for Thrashfest. It’s the sheer professionalism which is associated with his gigs that separate him from other organisers. We are really looking forward to sharing stage with our old buddies from ‘Threinody’ from Bangalore.  They started around the same year as us and are back after a long hiatus. We’ve heard a lot about ‘Chaos’ too and dig their stuff as well. It’s gonna be mad!

 

 

 

– Your top 5 Thrash Metal albums?

Wow!! Let me see : a) Slayer- Reign In Blood, b) Metallica – Master of Puppets, c) Megadeth – Rust in Peace, d)  Sepultura – Roots and e) Metallica – The Black Album

 

 

 

– Thanks for the interview! Hope to see you perform in Pakistan some day!

Thanks for having us on-board. Cheers…and stay heavy \m/

 

 

Sceptrejam

Sceptre on Facebook

Sceptre on Bandcamp

Thrashfest Sponsored By Transcending Obscurity

– Hassan Dozakhi

Systemhouse 33 – Depths of Despair (2013)

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Pounding riffs. Pummeling grooves. A hoarse, gravel-throat vocal attack. Mosh-inducing song structures. Album art and production that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Helmet, Meshuggah or Pantera album. Once the senses-lulling intro subsides, Systemhouse33 pull me into their world of pure 90s metal worship. For a second I feel like I’m at a gig from 1994, surrounded by kids wearing Prong and Pro-Pain shirts, moshing it out to unconsciously second-hand hardcore punk riffs played through a thrash/groove metal processor. The odd melody seeps in, then makes way for another headbang inducing groove aided with some crushing drum work. The aggression never subsides. Songwriting, however, seemingly serves a purpose higher than just invoking neanderthal fist-fights. Songs like “Resistance” contrast well with more direct numbers such as “Death Wish” in their layered approach of building up angst through slower tempos then unleashing it with violent intent.

If you’re much of a stage-diver, do take a second out of your busy mosh-life to stand up on stage with the vocalist and shout along the lyrics – or air-guitar to the deliciously tasty solos. It’s a travesty that songs this good are ignored by the metal community, because they don’t cater to the typical thrash audience whose music sensibility has a narrowed periphery not unlike a mule. Listen if you enjoy the materials of say, Fear Factory. Don’t expect tuetonic thrash riffs stolen from a 1984 demo to come up.

Upon asking the guitarist I realized that the production is all home-based and DIY. An obvious advantage can be immediately heard – the band sounds like this sort of industrial tinged groove/thrash should ideally sound. Clear despite the distortion, fluid despite the mechanical sound. The sound of robotic structures smashing through human architectural constructs never sounded more adequate.

The album begins as it ends – with a serene instrumental, displaying the band’s post-rock sensibilities. These guys apparently have an indie band too. Though I can’t imagine these blokes transitioning from such aggressive drunk-drive anthems to playing mellow indie – I willingly indulge in suspension of disbelief when the intro/outro sequence plays with my brain. I haven’t heard their past work and I don’t know what their future material will sound like but this is a solid fucking slab of 90’s style metal made in India, that outdoes all its American counterparts with relative ease. No vulgar display necessary in outdoing the ‘yanks.’

SH33

SystemHouse33 Official Website

SystemHouse33 on Facebook

SystemHouse33 on Bandcamp

 – Hassan Dozakhi

SystemHouse33 Interview

I’ll be honest. I had no information regarding even the existence of this band prior to their name coming on the lineup for Transcending Obscurity’s “Thrashfest” gig in Mumbai. I liked their album cover – reminded me of those 90’s Industrial tinged Groove/Thrash albums by Prong, Helmet, Pantera, Fear Factory etc – and I decided to check them out. Curiosity nearly killed this cat. Their jackhammer-like riffs and howling vocals combined with songwriting that brings in influences from a wide array of music – both metal and non metal –  had me suffering from whiplash long after their album finished. SystemHouse33, ladies and gents, is an Experimental Thrash/Groove band from Nagpur, India and has been active for the last decade or so, maintaining a healthy work ethic and incredible dedication in their effort to do what they love doing – making heavy music. With a decade gone and four albums under their belt, this interview with main-man Daniel D’Souza gives me the impression that these lads still have a lot to say and do. Catch them live on the 9th of February at “Thrashfest sponsored by Transcending Obscurity”

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– Hey Daniel. How are the preparations for Thrashfest going?

Hey Hassan, the preparations are going really well, we are really honoured and humbled to be sharing the stage with the killer lineup that Kunal has put together. This is going to be one wild night!

 

– Not many know about the history of Systemhouse33 despite the fact that it’s been around for a decade now. Enlighten us regarding the formation of the act, lyrical themes and also the musical influences.

SystemHouse33 was formed in the quiet small town of Nagpur in 2003 when we were all just teenagers. The four of us grew up together and hung out a lot and it was just luck that at a college gig a random guy came up to us with a CD with some Pantera on it as well as some other bands and we were hooked on to Metal! Coming from a small town, it was tough to get exposure early on and we had to travel to Mumbai and other places to even get a look-in. However, once we started playing in Mumbai (Freakshow IV in Mumbai was one of our first decent gigs that had a great line up of bands) things started moving and we played a lot of gigs across India. Our lyrics are based around religions and social issues and how easily we devalue everything around us. We are influenced by a wide variety of music from Thrash, Death, Progressive, Blues and everything in between.

 

– “Depths of Despair” was your fourth full length album, no small feat in a region where most metal bands don’t even have the resources to put out a single album. How does the album compare to your past efforts in terms of musical evolution and production quality?

We started out being influenced by many bands, this has slowly changed as we have grown musically and personally. We started getting a little heavier as we went along and ‘Depths of Despair’ is more Experimental Thrash with elements of progressive metal and ambient themes.

 

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– From what I know, your recording facilities are all home-based. Is recording at a home-studio a matter of convenience or necessity? What is the usual recording process at your studio like?

Its more of a necessity at the moment. Since the band is more like a DIY project, most of the tracks are recorded at Samron’s studio or my home studio and we send out the tracks for mixing and mastering. Akash Sawant has done a brilliant job on our latest album ‘Depths of Despair’. Work begins with Akash on our next album we are hoping to release that in the second half of the year.

 

– Systemhouse33 appears to have an artistic sensibility about it, something that transcends their music. I found out that the album artwork etc is all hand-painted on a canvas. Tell us a bit about that.

Its great that you asked me about that and thank you for the kind words! Marija Kovacevic from Serbia did the inlays for us, she has been a part of the bands artwork right from the first album ‘Discernment’ and she just understands our music at every level. There is this insane artistic connection with Marija, where even though the band is in another part of the world and we have never met she just totally gets our music and what its about. She is a true artist and the inlays are all her canvas work. We are really really lucky to work with such creative and artistic people.

 

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– The band experienced a period of hibernation when you were in Australia. I find it curious why a musician would want to return to South Asia, while living in a place with a very vibrant and probably superior metal scene. Or am I mistaken?

Australia was great, there is no doubt about it. I saw and met a lot of bands and musicians from a wide spectrum of genres and learnt a lot. I even played in a few bands and worked on some solo-type material, but it was never the same as playing in SystemHouse33. As time passed I found that no other band will ever do it for me the way SH33 did, so I gave it all up and came back to play in this band that I love.

 

– You’ve been around for a decade. How has the Indian Metal scene changed during that time? Are things better now, or did the old days have a better “charm” about them?

I think with the advent of social media, bands and musicians can get their work seen and heard in a better manner than in the past. I remember in the past though, that the crowd turnout for gigs was way better than it is nowadays. I wish people came out to support live acts more. This is the only way the Indian Metal scene will continue to grow and gigs like the Thrashfest are a BIG step in that direction. Its going to be like a big party. The entire team is doing a great job, even with past gigs like Black Metal Krieg.

 

– Samron has a reputation for collecting guitars. What are his most prized or rare possessions?

Samron is a Dimebag Darrel freak! He owns around 6 rare Dimebag Darrel Signature Washburn guitars, as well as some Deans and some other brands too. He has been to Texas a few times to Dime’s grave, met Vinnie Paul and made a lot of friends in the wild wild west in Texas. It connects with us as even Pantera was from Dallas and we are originally from Nagpur and people don’t expect Metal from there. Sam also plays Guitar in our other Indie project called ‘Paratra’ check it out, we are playing at Blue Frog in Mumbai on the 28th of Jan.

 

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– A decade gone. Can you last a decade more? What do you foresee for your band?

Time will tell if we last or don’t, we can’t really predict the future. One thing is for sure, we are not going to give up on our dream of playing our music all around the world. In the near future we will be releasing another music video to go with the one for ‘Depths of Despair’, which is on our YouTube channel at the moment. We are also working on our next album and hope to release it by mid 2014. We will continue to make music, life would not hold much meaning without it.

 

– Thanks for the interview. Any closing statement?

Those were some kickass questions Hassan! In closing I would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the years. Your support means a LOT to us and it keeps us going. Please visit us on our official site, Facebook, YouTube and other sites and please come down to watch us play with some AMAZING bands on Feb 9, 2014 at the Thrashfest, Sponsored by Transcending Obscurity! Cheers!

 

SH33 on Facebook

Catch them live at Thrashfest by Transcending Obscurity

Listen to their album “Depths of Despair.”

– Hassan Dozakhi

Stark Denial Interview

Stark Denial are a black metal band from Mumbai, India, established in 2009. They specialize in playing a brand of ferocious, uncompromising black metal with a strong emphasis on playing live. In terms of work ethic, they’re no slouches and they’ve taken their time honing their craft and perfecting their trade – the result of which can be heard on their debut EP released at the end of 2013. The vocalist is also famous for organizing a national Black Metal fest called “Black Metal Krieg” which is a testament to the band’s dedication. This is my interview with their vocalist and founder Kunal Marie Gonsalves, ahead of a gig in Bangalore called “Human Garbage” where they play alongside Dormant Inferno, Shepherd, Djinn & Miskatonic, Gypsy, among others. Enjoy!

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– Hey Kunal, how are you doing?
Hey Hassan, doing great 🙂

 

– For those of us who are unaware; can you tell us a bit about how the band was formed, who handles the songwriting and the brief history of the act, up til now?
Stark Denial was originally formed back in 2006 but due to lack of musician’s who wanted to play black metal in the scene we went dormant, then in 2009 we got our first good line up we went on to do a few shows then, song writing in the band is basically handled by us all as our homework then we jam and execute it and make the changes as per how we want the final output.

 

– Despite existing since 2009, the band released its first and only physical release – the “War” EP at the tail end of 2013. Why the long wait?
Yes even since 2009 we have been active in the scene, but inspite of that we had major line up changes. Me and Ruark are the only 2 member’s from the start, but joining us are Paresh on bass, Sunny Heith on guitars and Vineet on Drums and all of them are hardworking and dedicated with their roles in the band.

 

– One thing I’ve noticed about Stark Denial is that they have, compared to other Black Metal bands, more of a focus on playing live. How does this affect the type of songs you create?
Stark Denial has always believed weather its a crowd of 10 or 100000 we will still play with the same energy and passion as we have always done, we like to create songs which are full of aggression but at the same time making sure that they also contain the element’s of Black Metal.

 

– I read that you drew some influence from games such as God of War and the film trilogy Lord of the Rings. Isn’t this a bit of a novel approach for a black metal band, to be influenced by games and movies instead of the usual stuff we are accustomed to?
Black Metal has just one main area where its focused on and that is Satanism, we wanted to do something different and that’s why for the EP we chose the concept of WAR, even before we ever planned for an EP we had songs composed on the war theme which are now on the EP. There are many international black metal bands who have also taken the same approach and create music with different themes.

 

– You’ve had your fair share of lineup changes since the inception of the group. Do you expect the current lineup to last in the long-term?
Yes as i mentioned the current line up is a pretty strong one and dedicated one, we have member’s traveling like almost 2 -3 hours coming for jam and also our drummer also leaves from work comes for the jam and then head’s back to work so its pretty awesome to see such kind of dedication which gives us the inspiration to go on as a band together.

 

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– Tell us a bit about your relationship with Doom band Dormant Inferno. I understand you share a bassist and drummer, as well as doing live vocals for them in the absence of Gautam Shankar.
We had played a gig with Dormant Inferno which was their 1st gig @ Metafest way back after that they were not active as their vocalist moved to the US, then Ajaya who runs the label Incanned Production through which Stark Denial’s EP has been released had Entombed Metal Fest in Mumbai for the 1st time and he approached me to do session vocals for Dormant Inferno, I’m a huge fan of doom metal and i really liked the music that Dormant Inferno had, this was the first time i was going to do growls live with any band. Yes Paresh and Vineet also play for Dormant Inferno.

 

– You’re also known as the chief organizer of the Black Metal Krieg gigs in Mumbai over the years. How has it progressed over the years and how did Transcending Obscurity get involved in the organizing of the most recent show?
Yes I had started Black Metal Krieg in honour of my parents, I wanted to do something different when it came to organizing shows, so it came to my mind what better way then to do a gig for a genre which is really not given any attention which is so deserves…!!!. This year i had alot of friend helping me out with the show, namely i know Kunal Choksi as a close friend for year’s now, he wanted to get into organizing show’s as well so that’s how we spoke and he got involved in BMK 3, also my band has always been halping with all the leg’s of BMK till date also Ajaya Bhatt, Itihas Shetty & Narayanan Haridas were instrumental in organizing BMK3.

 

BMK

– Black Metal has grown in India substantially during 2013. How do you see the genre expanding in 2014?
Yes its amazing to see band’s emerge from all part’s of the country supporting thie genre and im pretty sure now the path has been laid down for more upcoming band to ba a part of the fantastic genre, and BMK will always be helping and supporting new upcoming band’s as well.

 

– You’re playing in Bangalore at Human Garbage! What are you expecting for the gig?
Bangalore has been a place we always wanted to play and spread our music in, we are all pretty geared up to play @ Human Garbage which is organized by Simon. As of now we are not expecting anything, but we will leave a huge mark on Bangalore for sure.

 

– How important is it for an Indian metal band these days to play in cities outside their home-station, considering the sheer size of the nation?
Its really important for people outside our hometown to be familiar with our music which helps band’s in connecting to the crowd even more and also seeing people enjoying your music.

 

– Thanks for answering my questions. Do you have anything else to add, Kunal?
Your welcome Hassan, its been a pleasure. Thank you to each and everyone who have always supported us in all the ways possible and keep supporting the bands across the world stay true cheers……. \m/

 

SD Cover Art

 

Stark Denial on Facebook

– Hassan Dozakhi

Albatross – The Kissing Flies (2012)

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Let me get one thing straight. I’m one of those people who “grew out” (for lack of a better word) out of Traditional Heavy Metal years ago. My teenage years began with an explosion of Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Saxon and Judas Priest – but as time dragged its heavy boots over my sun-scorched back, I found myself reveling in the dark atmospheres and chaotic music of death metal, sludge/doom, grindcore, powerviolence and hardcore/crust punk. It you asked me what I’d rather listen to – Scorpions ‘ In Trance, or a new tape demo from an obscure blackened crust band – I’d take the latter within a fraction of a heartbeat. However, once in a blue moon a band playing pure unadulterated heavy metal comes up and smacks me in the face out of nowhere. That band renders me incapable of thought. I find my hands forming the horns and my mind dizzily goes back into the days of my youth, when singing along to Queensryche was the order of the day. I can proudly say that I’ve had that done to me recently by a band from – out of all possible locations – Mumbai, India. Ladies and gentlemen, that band is Albatross.

The release I’m reviewing from this band is their split with U.S. Heavy/Doom Metal band Vestal Claret. However I’ll solely be focusing on Albatross’s side of the split, which is entitled “The Kissing Flies” and comprises of 3 tracks including an intro entitled “Wither.” Straight from the get-go, Albatross get down to business with a dizzying array of riffs, ranging from the thrashy to the melodic, doomy to the rock-ish. Guitar leads pop out of nowhere to keep the song-structure intricate and interesting, bringing to mind the early work of US Heavy/Power Metal masters Jag Panzer as well as Danish legends Mercyful Fate. Speaking of which, vocalist Biprorshee is a surprise package on his own – I have honestly never heard any South Asian vocalist with the kind of style and charisma that he brings to the table. He wails, he croons, he sings, shrieks, all of that in a manner in which will make the make the biggest King Diamond fan curl his face up into a smug, satisfied smile. Indeed, with the lively – if a tad bit underplayed on the production end – drum performance keeping the percussive force of the music pounding and grooving, it seems throughout the course of the material that it would take an avalanche of drastic proportions to stop what Albatross has set out to do.

 

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With just three minutes into the first proper song “Uncle Sunny at the Tavern” it becomes apparent that chief songwriter Riju and the crew have spent hours in the dungeons of true metal, honing their craft and sharpening their blades. By the time you get to the end of the title track, you realize that Albatross have not just conjured up their metal icons, but rather aimed to ascend even them. The daring, adventurous songwriting, supplemented by the genuinely poetic lyrics and enigmatic vocal style, takes you through more twists and turns than a roller-coaster ride through Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I chuckled a bit at the “Horror Metal” tag when I first came across this band, but they truly do deliver in the story-telling. The title track is a masterpiece of composition in itself but you’d be a fool to take the CD out before the final track “From Ashes to Life” which truly has the most infectious and memorable riffs in this collection of songs – and that’s saying something, considering the preceding material. Massive, gigantic riffs thrusting themselves upon you like a tidal wave, leaving you drenched in the power of the music.

Albatross are a well-rounded, well-honed machine and armed with a slightly better production job they could easily become one of the better Heavy Metal bands out there today. Not that there’s anything immediately wrong with the production here – the guitars have a nice tasty crunch to them, and the clean vocals are mixed nicely into the heavy pounding of the music – but as a wary listener-turned-rabid fan, I just feel that the possibilities for them are endless. There is a lurking feeling in my ears, that despite this 25 minute offering of pure unadulterated, testosterone fueled metal, there is much more to come from Riju’s crew. Don’t believe the hype of them being a flat King Diamond worshiping band. There is much more to them than what you could possibly expect.

 

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Read my interview with Albatross.

Albatross on Facebook.

Listen to The Kissing Flies.

Transcending Obscurity

– Hassan Dozakhi

Solar Deity – Devil Worship (2013)

Devil Worship Cover Artwork

 

Five years ago, if you’d have told me that an EP released by a band from the subcontinent would appear in my favorite releases from 2013, I’d have laughed my fucking ass off. However, times have changed. Bands like Dionysus from Pakistan and Genocide Shrines from Sri Lanka have churned out some of my favorite releases in recent years. Enter Solar Deity from Mumbai, India. This black metal ensemble is the brainchild of blogger and musician Aditya Mehta, who was previously known for his work with death metal band Exhumation. In 2011 Mehta decided to leave his gore-drenched death metal lyrics and vocals aside, to pick up a guitar and pay homage to Satan himself. Indeed, after 2 EP’s, 1 single, successful live shows and a new drummer – Solar Deity have finally put out something that even their dark lord would be proud of.

 

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“Devil Worship” opens with the absolutely titanic “Raise the Horns,” which pulls the listener into Aditya’s world of blast-beat driven blasphemy, aided with some delightfully diabolical riffs. The vocals are a tasteful sort of rasp, screamed out clearly enough for the lyrics to remain intelligible – which in turn gives the band a sort of horn-raising sing-along factor that could manifest really well on the live front. Though the opener sets you up for the ride and familiarizes you with the setting, you’d be severely mistaken to assume that the music presented on this EP is one-dimensional. “Supreme Evil” slows down the proceedings with riffs that do the song title justice – but remains as violent in its approach as the opener. I remember hearing the song in its demo stage in a private e-mail and being blown away by the sheer power and impact of the music. The closing track “Through the Hallways of Narak” can be considered to be the greatest song Solar Deity has ever written up until this point of their existence. If the first song was akin to an angry satanic horde marching to battle, and the second track a ritual inside a temple to hail the devil – then the closer is a manifestation of god’s greatest enemy. Abrasive, but deceptively melodic, the final track on this EP is an example of perfect songwriting in black metal. It, much like the previous tracks, is immediately addictive with the repetition of riffs designed to impregnate your brain with the band’s own satanic ideals. In terms of musical influences, strains of Inquisition, Marduk, Watain, Immortal and their ilk are felt throughout but throughout the course of the EP, but none of the bands are ripped off. Through every little tempo change, every line of rhythmic chanting, the band’s identity remains intact which is refreshing to say the least.

 

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Solar Deity claim to worship the Devil, and with music like this I wouldn’t be able to doubt them. The atmosphere here is truly nefarious – every guitar note feels like Satan personally made his presence felt in the recording  and the production is made to sound like it was recorded in an underground temple. A lot of credit needs to be given to the producer for making the band sound loud and bombastic without foregoing the harshness we have come to expect from this genre. The logo and artwork (made by Aakash Dwivedi) along with the production value all aid the actual music in terms of presenting the band as an entity to be taken seriously, whether you like the music or not. And even when you leave the aesthetics and lyrical influences aside, “Devil Worship” is a fine piece of modern day black metal and is undeniably infectious. It stays true to the roots of the genre by making sure you can’t spend a single moment without banging your head and raising the horns.

 

Solar Deity on Facebook

Nephalist Recordings

– Hassan Dozakhi