There is something invigorating in the North Eastern mountain air that allows so many top-notch vocalists to emerge from that region. Girish Pradhan is one such vocal stalwart and while he is by no means the latest, he is definitely one of the better known singers this long production line has successfully brought into the fore.
Girish Pradhan is an icon in his home state of Sikkim and in North-East India. And while most talented artistes from this region find it hard to make a break-through into the national mainstream, for Girish, his vocal talent has managed to take him to the four corners of the country and beyond. His performances both as a solo artist and with his band have won him tons of accolades, and rightly so for his performances on stage are a delight for music lovers.
Great vocals and awesome stage presence does not however make a great album of originals. Vocal talent can only take you so far, and without interesting compositions a singer and his band are lost souls. So the question that immediately comes to mind is this: Is Girish Pradhan the song-writer able to hold his own, or is he just a pretty voice from the hills of the North-East?
Back On Earth is, for the most part, a highly listenable album, especially if you like your music hard and loud. The originals on this debut effort transport you back to an era when hard rock was just plain and simple hard rock, and when the music wasnt adulterated with sounds from the modern metal movement. The originals that are featured here are heavily influenced by some of the best loved hard rock bands of yore, and each riff, hook or drum solo sounds familiar like straight from a vintage 80s hard rock anthem. It really is fun listening to the songs and trying to guess their probable influences.
So yes, there is no denying that a whole lot of inspiration and influences ranging from AC/DC, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Guns n Roses, Van Halen and even Led Zeppelin resonate through each track. But this does not necessarily indicate that Girish And The Chronicles was possessed by the copy-cat bug, and Back On Earth is definitely no hard rock or glam metal rip-off. Putting aside the fact that each song is oozing in hard rock nostalgia, what makes this album such an enjoyment to the senses is that the listener is transported back to an era when long hair, leather jackets and loudness prevailed.
Girish Pradhan and his band of merry men show much passion and belief in the delivery of each track that the listener would find it difficult to stop being dragged in to the very same mental space that the band has lost themselves to. The amount of conviction that emanates from Girish in his vocal delivery of each song is tremendous, and you could be easily fooled in believing that the poor chap still thinks hes lost in an 80s time-warp. But that is a good thing, come to think of it because without this sense of conviction or feel the listener would never really manage to get into the thick of things and Back On Earth would have remained just an ordinary album of ordinary originals.
Back On Earth is most definitely a feel good album, and if its rhythm doesnt get you then chances of you either being stone deaf or a stuck-up frog-in-the-mud are very high. However there is a downer which holds this album back and prevents it from rising to the top of the pile the foremost problem being its lack of surprises. There are no hidden gems stashed away amongst the songs that comprise this compilation, and that is because some of these originals have been around for quite some time. For instance, their trademark track ‘Angel‘, the original which shot them straight to the gates of fame, has been around since 2009. And however popular it may be, featuring a five year old song on this debut album of theirs dilutes its freshness. The same would apply for their tracks ‘Golden Crown’, ‘I Wanna Get That Lovin Again’, ‘Ride To Hell’, ‘Yesteryears’, ‘Loaded’, ‘A New Beginning’ all these songs have been around for quite some time now, and the probability of you having heard them being performed live are extremely high. More than a debut album, Back On Earth sounds like a Girish Pradhan Greatest Hits compilation. Granted, it is a pleasure listening to these popular songs, but the lack of expectation and surprise is a supreme let-down.
On the other hand, if you have never ever heard of Girish Pradhan and/or have heard his songs before, then the above wouldnt apply to you. So sit back, crank up the volume and go back in time to an era where hard rock reigned supreme. Feel the power of Suraz Karkis guitars on the opening track ‘End Of Civilization’ and go back to the heydays of AC/DC while listening to ‘Shot By The Cupid (Touched By The Devil)‘. Let the rhythm of ‘Hey You’ take away your blues, while on ‘I Wanna Get That Lovin Again’ do you possibly hear a tinge of Bon Jovi? Yogesh Pradhans enormous bass-lines start off ‘Born With A Big Attitude’, and you almost feel that this track would not have felt out of place on the Guns n Roses classic album Appetite For Destruction.There is a bit of Led Zeppelin in the opening bars of ‘Loaded’, after which Girish Pradhan takes this original into hard-rock anthem mode easily one of the best tracks on this album.
After a pulsating start to Back On Earth, ‘Angel’ slows things down considerably, and depending upon your mood you may find this a nice breather or a major distraction. For me it was the latter. Nagen Mongrati pounds away on ‘Revolving Barrel’ to bring the album back to its prevalent loud mood, while Suraz Karki again goes into full overdrive on ‘Ride To Hell’. One of their earlier originals ‘Golden Crown’ is featured not once, but twice the second time as a bonus track, and not really adding much value to the album as a whole. The last couple of tracks on this album are basically slower tunes and it is almost as if the band has lost steam after their frantic start. ‘A New Beginning’ and the two bonus tracks ‘Yesteryears’ and ‘Smile Little Child’ are fine originals, and you are reminded of quite a few power ballad classics when you listen to them. A nice way to end the album but it probably would have been more appropriate to go out with a bang with another loud and heavy original instead of letting the album to dissipate away in the background.
So there you have it Girish And The Chronicles debut effort, a delight for any hard rock fan. Plans are supposedly already under way for album #2. One can only hope that this time the band takes their music down a more unexplored path rather than stick to the tried and tested. For though this band are kings on stage, they need to show their fans and to the world that they are equally adept at song-writing as well and to show one and all that they have what it takes to break-away from the generic hard rock formula that is so prevalent on Back On Earth. The band certainly has what it takes to do this, so let us wait and watch and see how they progress over the next couple of years.