Middle East in Bangalore!

Sunday 6th of Feb, 2010: Kyra Theatre, Indiranagar was the venue for last leg of Orphaned Land’s India tour. Prior to coming to Bangalore, they had already performed at VIT, Vellore & Elysium, Pune. After an amazing gig in front of a 7000 strong crowd at Vellore, but a disappointing turnout for the Pune gig, a vibrant response was expected from the Bangalore metalheads, considering the fact that the line-up included three local bands & a Swedish metal act.

The gig was supposed to start at three in the afternoon, but as has been the case with all the concerts here in Kyra, it got delayed by a couple of hours. We reached the venue at 2:30 and all we could see were the members of Eccentric Pendulum & Inner Sanctum sipping their beer & smoking their cigarettes outside the venue. The sound check had just started & we realized we had ample time for a couple of beers before things got underway.

Around 5:30 p.m, Eccentric Pendulum took the stage. The first track was followed up with ‘Mathematicians of Ambient Waters’ and ‘My Eucalyptine Depth‘, executed flawlessly. Finishing up with ‘Anonymous Existence’, theirs was a pretty short set with just four tracks, even though the crowd cheered for them and asked them to play on. Tight as usual & very professional in terms of performance, a trait that that they have displayed in all of their gigs we have attended in the past few months. Their brand of progressive metal with deep growling vocals is certainly something that sets them apart from the rest of the acts. Certainly one Bangalore band we don’t mind seeing time & again. It would have been great if some of their merchandise was on sale at the venue, though.

Next up were Bevar Sea, a half a year old stoner/doom metal outfit. We had never seen them live before, or any desi stoner act as a matter of fact and were curious to see how they would sound live. Before the band hit the stage, the artwork came up on the projector, and boy, was that good or what? Shrooms, gargoyles and what not! They did a short sound check and quickly went on to perform the rest of their set. The heavily distorted guitar sound was certainly reminiscent of stoner bands like Sleep, Kyuss, & even Black Sabbath, which Bevar Sea mention as their influences. But the doom laden sound was missing & snail-pace tempos were replaced with upbeat rhythms & energetic on-stage antics.  The vocalist had a great stage presence, pumping fists in the air and offering free beer to those who headbanged the most ( quite ironic that this included a metalhead who was under 18). It was only later that I found out this was their debut gig! Surely an act to watch out for in the future!

Just when we were trying to make a quick dash to the bar to grab some more beer, Inner Sanctum came on stage and did what they are best known for – provoking fans to get down to some serious headbanging, and that resulted in the first moshpit of the day. These guys are a very tightly knit unit, top that with catchy riffs, crazy fast solos & a vocalist who growls like no other which makes them really special to fans who sleep with their mosh boots on. Their relentless energy on the stage, with tracks blasted out at breakneck speed made sure there wasn’t a single moment during the set when the fans had any respite. Quarantine evoked the best response from the crowd, and a crazy circle pit! However, Inner Sanctum do have that LoG influence that they vehemently deny, and though this appeals to the majority of the fans, it can be slightly repetitive for the regulars who attend almost every metal gig in town.

After the desi acts were done, there was a long break, adequately supplemented by beer and we noticed that the size of the crowd had grown as well. It’s always good for both the bands and the fans to see people turn up for metal gigs in good numbers. Special mention of the fact that there were more female metalheads in the crowd this time around than…say, the Undergrind fest!*horns up*

Degradead took the stage next. Labeled as a melodeath/thrash hybrid, expectations were pretty high from this Swedish band, and to be honest, they were probably the most disappointing of the lot. Though the guys seemed pumped up, their live act left a lot to be desired. The sound was overtly commercial (even metalcore-ish, may be?), with clean vocals further playing the party pooper, so to speak. The whiny vocals interspersed with some well executed solos did absolutely no good, and it sounded lackluster with the double bass missing in the action. Despite that, the unabashed anger seemed to connect with the audience & the metalheads responded very well to them. Well, whatever floats one’s boat, whatever jiggles your jollies!

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the headlining band Orphaned Land climbed onto the stage. These flag-bearers of middle eastern metal (Oriental metal, anyone?) have already earned quite a reputation for themselves, probably being the only Israeli band known very well all across the globe. What should be noted is, they are a terrific live act. From the regular set of metal artists that have played in India in the last couple of years, Orphaned Land are probably the most refreshingly different of them all. Their eclectic & seamless fusion of progressive/doom metal with traditional Arabic folk music was absolutely mesmerizing. Even though the (female) vocals and other traditional instruments they use in their music were pre-recorded, the groovy atmosphere they created was amazing. Playing crowd favorites from Mabool, ‘The Birth Of The Three‘ & ‘The Kiss Of The Babylon‘ had the whole audience clapping and singing along with the music. A chant for ‘Sapari‘ from the ORwarriOR album rose slowly and the band obliged. Coincidentally, it was the drummer’s birthday, which was celebrated on stage, with the whole crowd singing to wish him, surely a sight! A few of the tracks featured the official videos projected onto the stage as well, which were in sync with the live performance of the songs, certainly a first for an Indoor gig. A girl from the Orphaned Land crew did a folksy tribal belly dance of sorts for a couple of tracks, which everyone in the crowd loved and applauded for. Only sad part of their set was that instead of the scheduled two hours, they ended up performing for almost half an hour less due to initial delays during sound check.

OL & Degradead merchandise was on sale at the venue along with the albums as well, we saw members of the audience checking them out every now and then. All in all, a pretty good gig, would have been better had they’d stuck to the schedule and had  every band had the opportunity to play a full set. Orphaned Land clearly demonstrated that they are certainly a band to look out for, and not just for the studio releases! Come back soon guys, and believe us when we say ‘We’ll be waiting!’


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