Tag Archives: Burn

Alexis live at The BFlat Bar, Bangalore


The folks at BFlat organized a fantastic evening with the extremely talented Alexis on 27th September. I will be honest, I wasn’t the most excited. I love rock and RN’B never particularly fascinated me except for a couple of tracks, but enter Alexis D’Souza with her powerful voice and my misgivings were silenced.

Alexis’ selling point is their subtlety. Even their most powerful tracks ooze simplicity. Their biggest strengths are the leading lady’s vocals and their hard hitting lyrics. For the most part, in my head I was screaming ‘Oh My God! Her voice!’ My only complaint is that they had more covers than originals. They did however try to ensure that they added some of their own elements to a couple of covers. I must tell you about the band’s camaraderie on stage. It honestly looked like they were just jamming on stage. No big deal.

The evening began with their original ‘Back to the Start’. A definitive bass line courtesy of Kaushik Kumar, a subtle solo and the band looking like they were drunk on music – if that doesn’t set the tone for the rest of the gig, I don’t know what does! ‘No Matter Where You Are’ had beautiful guitar riffs, quite John Mayer-y if you will. Also, Srijayanth Sridhar (Keys and Synth) was caught singing along while losing himself completely to the music. Deepa Jacob’s (Backing Vocals) and D’Souza’s voices meshed together so perfectly in this one. My favourite song of theirs has to be ‘Hurt too Much’, which was the perfect blend of minimal instruments and a very catchy melody line. Alexis also debuted a new single at the gig, ‘You Wouldn’t Like Me’. Ramanan Chandramouli’s (Lead Guitar) brilliant guitar solo, the girls’ powerful vocals (I’m saying that a lot, aren’t I?) made this one, one of their best tracks yet. ‘Forgive Me’ was another track in which D’Souza, the lyricist shined. Unfortunately she went off key in a couple of places but ‘Burn’ saw the vocalist take command. The vocals were the star of the show and the instruments added to them.

Their best cover was Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’. They made it ‘their’ song. Talking Heads fans, don’t hate me for saying this but I loved their cover more than the original. Seriously, give their cover a listen. Kumar’s bass and Deepak Raghu’s drums stole the limelight! Jacob took the lead for their cover of Mayer Hawthorne‘s No Strings Attached’ and pulled off the single effortlessly. Their cover of ‘Love will tear us apart’ by Joy Division is another track where their love for subtlety simply shines. Their cover was so uncluttered in comparison to the original. However in Corinne Bailey Ray’s ‘Closer’ and Justin Timberlake’s ‘Pusher Lover Girl’, the vocals slipped off pitch at a couple of places.

They wrapped the gig up with ‘Make love to me’, an original. They even got the audience to sing along and before we knew it, the gig came to its close. Alexis made sure that along with the audience, they had fun too. The fun included an impromptu performance of ‘Happy Birthday’ for a member of the audience. The band looked a little cramped on stage but nonetheless they made it a great Saturday night for everyone who showed up.


An Exordium To Contagion by Plague Throat


The North-East has been a cradle of musical talent through the years and it is no surprise that the country’s heavy metal circuit too has benefited from this region’s huge love for the genre. Shillong, especially, has given birth to some very good musicians and this would include the veteran death metal trio Plague Throat.

As with most heavy metal hubs in the country, Shillong too is demarcated by a thin line separating the two schools of metal, viz. Old School and New School. The almost fanatical support demonstrated by the disciples of these metal philosophies can be alarming – yet the dedication of these musicians towards their music also shines through due to their rigid disposition.Many old school metal bands of the country take pride in being underground and not succumbing to the evils of “commercialization” – Plague Throat seems to have gone down this path as well. And while they have made a name for themselves in the live music circuit, both in the North-East and in other parts of the country, with their no frills, no nonsense death metal, unfortunately there has been a down side to Plague Throat’s decision to remain predominantly underground. And proof of this is no better reflected than in their debut EP An Exordium To Contagion.

Despite having been in existence for the better part of 7 years, Plague Throat’s decision to bring out an EP instead of a full-fledged album as their debut release is nothing short of strange. Add to this, the fact that 3 of the 4 tracks listed on this EP had already been released independently and were in mass circulation on the internet, makes you wonder whether the band are actually taking their underground status a bit too seriously. It does not bode well for either their fans or followers of death metal if a veteran death metal act has only 4 tracks to offer after being in the circuit for seven years.

Luckily An Exordium To Contagion does not disappoint musically and the years of hard-edged experience garnered by the band is well projected in their musical efforts. As mentioned earlier, Plague Throat’s debut release is a collection of just 4 originals and hence the entire duration of the EP spans approximately 15 minutes. But those 15 minutes are as solid, as brutal and as gut-busting as anything you might be able to get your hands on in the Indian death metal market. Indeed, the recording and mixing has been handled pretty well – and credit must also be given to The Doom Cave (operated by Srikant Panaman from Bangalore’s iconic Bevar Sea) who was responsible for the EP’s mastering. The only drawbacks here would be the over-the-top bass heavy feel to the songs, and the fact that the vocals are inaudible at times. Granted, most of the vocals are a combination of high-pitched shrieks and deep-throated growls – still, the clarity of vocals is a requirement for any good death metal track, and this is not always something that is present on the EP. Another element that most lovers of heavy metal will fail to overlook is the fact that the drumming was programmed – something that is a bit hard to understand considering that the band’s drummer Malice is considered to be a very capable musician.

The EP opens with the track ‘The Pretentious And The Deceived’ and guitarist Nangsan and bassist Iaidon both weave an intricate web of rhythmic riffs coupled with slow elements of doom. And in between the blast beats the song descends into moments of madness where breakdowns add a level of craziness to the track. It is a masterly composition and is a great EP opener.

On the second track ‘Burn’ the drumming and riffing goes on at a frenetic pace and there is no letdown for the headbanger in you. The tempo does slacken in between, but Nangsan’s guttural vocals ensnares the listener and ensures that you are trapped in the rhythm of the song. Much of the same is on offer for the third track ‘Present Chaos‘ which begins at a frenetic pace as well. There are sections in the song where the breakdowns give it a technical death feel, however the pace is soon picked up and the band thrashes away on this ditty, rendering some very in-your-face blasting moments. The riffs on this song are truly impressive and they keep on playing in your head even after the song has long stopped playing.

Plague Throat’s EP ends with the fourth track ‘Sinking Higher. This track starts at a much slower pace than the previous three and the number of variations and progressions on offer actually make you feel like the band is trying too hard to experiment with too many musical complexities, and somewhere the focus of the song is lost. Not to say that ‘Sinking Higher does not have its moments – but probably it would have been nice to have kept this composition straight and simple, much like the previous tracks.

For those who are not familiar with Plague Throat’s music, An ExordiumTo Contagion is a great introduction to the band and it makes this an EP worth listening to. The band without a doubt is a great ambassador for death metal in India – and although the EP has its technical and production flaws, yet overall the brutality and sheer ferocity of the band’s music is reflected beautifully on their debut release. However, for those already savvy to the Plague Throat sound, this 4-track compilation is nothing short of a disappointment. After being in the circuit for 7 long years and having made a name for themselves as a monster stage-act, an EP is definitely a poor return from these metallers from Meghalaya. Indeed, Plague Throat’s fans would have expected a lot more from the band.So it goes without saying that their future endeavors will be watched eagerly by both members of their existing fan-base and by connoisseurs of the death metal genre. Plague Throat is capable of delivering much more – An Exordium To Contagion is a must listen for death metal lovers and although it would have whetted the appetite of most listeners, it still leaves you with that hollow feeling in your tummy – the feeling that you want more even though you aren’t really hungry.


Bhoomi, Caesar’s Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012


First things first – What a venue! The open air amphitheater with the UB City tower looming majestically in the background, and its big bright blue horse logo looking down upon us was quite an amazing sight! And what’s more – for a city perpetually stuck in traffic jams, its habba started dot on time.

The line-up on this particular evening comprised of metal aficionados Bhoomi, the multi-genre, Bangalore based Caesar’s Palace and Bangalore rockers Thermal and a Quarter who made a surprise entry later. All three of them, veterans of the Bangalore rock scene, took to the stage with the promise of a great Saturday evening and they sure lived up to it.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

First up was Bhoomi, one of Bangalore’s oldest and best metal acts. They started the evening with their renditions of rock classics like AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, and smoothly drifted into Deep Purple land with Jason Zachariah belting out the keyboard solo to Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ and then Tony Das belting out the guitar solo from ‘Burn’, both playing them absolutely perfectly. Though I’m a fan of bands covering songs their own way rather than playing it exactly like it is, I have to admit that Bhoomi’s version of ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ did seem a tad out of place and unnecessarily heavy. Tony Das sang the next song ‘Burn it Down’, a very bluesy number with some great guitar licks. This was followed by another cover, Mr. Big’s ‘Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy’.

They finally went into their originals, starting with ‘Inside Story’, a song about the press today and its obsession with the personal lives and affairs of celebrities. It had some great harmonies between Tony and Jason and ended with a really cool guitar-hero solo from the former. Next they played ‘Uncultured’, a song about riots with some really powerful vocals. It had a great vibe and had me replaying “Come help us fight…War without reason” in my head even after they finished. Their last song was ‘The Game’, a song about playing music live (I loved how Sujay bonded with the audience by explaining each song before playing it. Tony thought the better alternative was to chug some beer before each song. I loved that too!) The final track had a great riff, fierce drumming from Kishan Balaji and very eerie vocal harmonies, a powerful song to end their performance.

The band announced their new album set to release later this year, which is being produced by Neil Kernon, of Queensryche and Nevermore fame. When asked if this is the next big step for Indian bands i.e., to have internationally produced and marketed albums, frontman Sujay replies, “Definitely. It’s already happening. Not only international producers, but there are also many Indian producers with very good technical skills. In a few years, the Indian rock scene will be self-sufficient and we won’t have to look to the west for everything.”

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

Next up were Caesar’s Palace   a rock/funk/blues/soul/jazz/disco/phew! band from Bangalore. They played a very groovy, almost dance-y set of songs. They started with a cover of RHCP’s ‘Readymade’ and soon went into originals starting with ‘3 hour love affair’. The bassist Kenneth Wilson’s getup with his hood and shades (at 8:00 in the night) looked exponentially less pretentious with each note he played as he got them grooves going. ‘Stare’ had some funny lyrics about the cliche` of thinking deeper. Unni, the frontman then announced that they were going to cover Bappi Lahiri and frankly, I was disappointed to know that it was a joke. This is one band that could actually pull it off! They did come close to it though as they played a very 80s disco style original called ‘Get Your Mojo On’. By this time, Kishan Balaji had begun to look like some medieval war hero (read madman) behind his drums. He and Jason Zachariah had battled and conquered every style from heavy metal to funk and now even disco, both of them having played for both Bhoomi and Caesar’s palace.

They continued their brand of funk with a sense of humour with ‘Wol Chod’, which had some cool slap bass and screeching wah. ‘Dreams’ had a groove that got the entire amphitheater swinging their heads from side to side and had some interesting guitar and bass harmonies. The song ended with a great keyboard solo. They then went into a very well done medley of Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ and ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ followed by Tenacious D’s ‘Tribute’ that ended with the outro of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ which Unni pulled off perfectly. It was great to see how open minded they are to different genres of music, and not just open minded, but also technically proficient enough to pull off all these varied styles.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

The highlight of their performance was ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ by Ray Charles, done in a modern John Mayer style. It ended with a jugalbandi of sorts between the guitar and keys. Jason then played a beautiful piano solo that quietly blended into ‘Swim’, a lovely ballad. They ended with ‘Bittersweet Mind’, a typical 12-bar blues song but with some exciting odd-time signature twists to it.

The night was already going on a high when Unni announced that Thermal and a Quarter was going to take to the stage next and caught everyone by surprise. Thermal and a Quarter or TAAQ , as they are popularly known, consists of Bruce Lee Mani on vocals/guitar, Rajeev Rajagopal on drums and Prakash K.N on bass who happen to be Bangalore’s favourite power trio. This was proven by the fact that despite the fact that it was getting late and terribly cold in the open air amphitheater, the audience didn’t seem to want to be anywhere else.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

The trio kick-started their set with ‘Can you fly’, a typical TAAQ song with jazzy guitar playing, great vocals and a powerful rhythm section. Their second song was ‘Meter Mele One and a Half’, about the auto-rickshaw drivers in Bangalore. As Bruce Lee Mani sang about the woes of the average Bangalorean, I couldn’t help thinking that the band’s music IS indeed the sound of urban Bangalore. They do sound like UB City at night, like the traffic jams, like Masala Dosas, like an auto-rickshaw’s faulty meter, like Cubbon Park, IT parks and all things Bangalorean.

They continued in the same spirit with some “tapang-blues” with ‘If Them’ and ‘For the Cat’ which got few audience members even doing some tapang moves in the front row, as Bruce himself cheered them on! Quite impressive on the part of the dancers I’d say, considering the fact that ‘For the Cat’ had many time meter changes.

Their next song ‘Birthday’  was dedicated to Rajeev’s mother as it was the eve of her birthday. And apparently it’s no ordinary birthday song. As Bruce explained, “It’s about wanting my birthday to be a space and not a time. Very deep…very deep!” This was followed by one of my personal favourites – TAAQ’s rendition of ‘Hey Jude’. It amazed me to see how they could take a classic as popular as ‘Hey Jude’, turn it upside down and change it around completely and still maintain the feel of the original. TAAQ’s version of the song has to be heard to be believed! Their last song ‘Chainese Item’ sounded like the theme song to a spy movie where everyone’s running behind a plate of chow mein, for some reason. Or maybe the ridiculously cold breeze was finally getting to me!

Thermal and a Quarter were undoubtedly the heroes of the evening, captivating the audience with their distinct sound and energetic performance. Overall, a great gig and a perfect Saturday evening, all three bands providing three different versions of that rock and roll sound we all love.

The moral of the story at the Habba’s rock fest seemed to be that rock fests no longer mean copying the west. As the three veterans showed us, rock music in Bangalore today is more about ourselves and all the things that affect us in our lives. It’s more personal and easy to relate to than ever. I think it’s this quality of the music that made it so enjoyable and is making an increasing number of people turn up for concerts like these.

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Abhishek Prakash

Abhishek Prakash is a Bangalore based guitarist and is a third of local act Groove Chutney. He loves jazz, street food, Woody Allen movies and often pretends to be a writer.