Fireball brings about a sense of bonhomie among fans and musicians of the Northeast. I have been stressing more on concerts post the break-down of the fledgling pub scene here, but Fireball is awaited with bated breath by all Northeasterners. Organised by Rockarolla Events, headed by veteran organizer David Koch, Fireball has established itself as one of the premier musical events of the Northeast. Although this years Fireball took its time, the spectacle that was held forth was a joy to behold. Marred by Shades of Retributions 11th hour pull-out, Fireball saw UK modern-metal act Cypher 16 added to the bill to replace SOR. And boy did they perform incredibly well! Also, in the lead-up to the event, Rockarolla organized a public poll via Facebook to give two of Guwahatis current top-notch metal bands a.k.a Dark Carnage and Judas Ancestry a chance to perform as well. Due to a really close poll result, which saw over 1600 votes being cast, both the bands were given a slot each instead of having just one band perform as previously planned.
The choice of venue – ITA Machkhowa was a surprising one, considering the fact that there were auditoriums with better acoustics available. Nonetheless, it wasn’t that much of a deterrent. They ticketed the gig (no pass system) and got a loyal crowd. It did Koch and company a world of good by eliminating unnecessary UN-pleasantries, which happens sometimes.
The evening began with promise, with Dark Carnage and Judas Ancestry laying down their best and setting the benchmark for the evening to follow. Shillong boys Midnight Garden Factor followed them with their brand of multi-layer prog-rock. Shades of Retribution was on their second Northeast stint. They delivered a solid set interspersed with material from their latest release – From Mercy.
Cypher 16 is a band which has toured India relentlessly. However, Fireball proved to be their first foray into Northeast India -and boy did they not disappoint! Fresh from releasing their latest album – The Metaphorical Apocalypse, Cypher 16s set-list included many tracks from the aforementioned release including the popular Lonely Road. The big strong outing at their first Northeast show was reciprocated with a great response from the crowd that consisted mostly of 18 year old or under-18 fans.
In the MTV VMA nominated popular act – Alobo Naga and the Band, the evening found its first mellow act. They took to the stage amongst metal-heads and held their ground among them. And whats more, their performance of The End’, from their EP Painted Dreams, received a smattering of encore shouts. So a special mention goes out to the troupe who deserves a pat on the back as a result of their qualifying as one of the frontrunners from the Asia-Africa region.
Dawn of Demise fulfilled their billing as the headliner to a T. At times, when the vocalists stomp-boxes were stomped upon by the legion of headbangers on stage, the band gave the crowd a taste of their version of Death Metal a whole goddamn slab of it. It was a headbangers ball, if I may use the cliché. A friend, sharing an anecdote, told me that the never-ending line of headbangers on stage was a result of guitarist, Martin, getting them back on as soon as they were ushered off stage. The band left the stage, singing off to every call for an encore and delivering possibly a lesson or two in professionalism.
In a nutshell, it was a gig that left everyone pleased; including, hopefully Rockarolla too. There were no starry airs, everyone afforded a smile including the blokes from Cypher 16 and Dawn of Demise who got deluged with picture and autograph requests. Many of those pictures will most probably end up on Facebook as someones DP. For once, music took center-stage. But then, it wasn’t a metal concert was it? Let David-da answer that one!
The North-east is the ‘elephant in the room’ for the current Indian metal scene. Everyone knows the level of metal that comes from there, but no one wants to talk about it. Whether it is the fact that the bands themselves don’t blow much of a trumpet about their own music or whether fans feel more comfortable with the already well-established cities like Bangalore or Mumbai, the ‘elephant in the room’ needs to trumpet louder. Dark Carnage, a melodic death metal/metalcore outfit from Guwahati, seems to be ready to take up exactly that very mantle.
While the idea of an intro song has become a bit clichéd in metal now, the one here is not one that has a ridiculously orchestral tune that in fact probably has nothing to do with the band’s style of music anyway. ‘The Unfolding’ starts with a single guitar and builds gradually into an ambient, bass-driven melody that sounds like a tune of things come. The keys are a great combination of digitized chimes and resonating twinkles. The transition into the next track ‘Tyrannical Generation’ is also interesting because it falls halfway between an ending and continuation and a sound effect slice thrown in-between. The songwriting that the band incorporates involves low-end chromatic arpeggios and the right amount of chord-play. However the ‘core’ element of breakdowns is there as well. Now while this can be a major deterrent for purists, the breakdowns are not just mundane moments of staccato silence. They are in fact very well filled in by the keys. The interest is kept up on the next track ‘Undead Redemption’ which has a regular melodeath-styled syncopated riff to it. That and the following track ‘Deathmatch Destruction’ keep up the melodic death metal influences of the band and utilize breakdowns only when necessary. The champion track on this EP though is the last track ‘Acrimony of Terrorism’. It is heavy and yet contains quite a bit of emotion as well. As a song that shares the sentiments of the intro ‘The Unfolding’, it is a fitting final track.
The keys by themselves are a breath of fresh air. They are not the run-of-the-mill, ambient sustained chords nor are they just blatant twinkle echoes matching exactly what the guitars play. They are a great mix of piano mirrors (of the guitar riffs), synthesized loops and the occasional orchestral hits. They do a great job intertwining with the rest of the rhythm and sounding like an inseparable part of it. The vocals are regular death-growls and while they don’t really have anything bad about them, they are not very spectacular either and seem to do the job for the band’s style. One notable thing however is the fact that they are actually guttural enough to be called ‘death-growls’ and not the fake larynx-driven croaks of most metalcore bands of today.
The mood generated from this album is one of concern for matters both personal and political. The riffs are relevant, the breakdowns are balanced well by keyboard elements and the drumming is not just an over-the-top display of the drummer’s double bass speed. The band also manages to mix the songwriting up quite well, with full riffs for the most part and only patches of breakdown section, where the groove is the major driving force. Personally I have not heard too many bands of similar genres but if you’re a fan of Veil of Maya or Born of Osiris, pick this CD up. Or just pick it up if you’re a fan of great music.