Tag Archives: Here and Beyond

Great Indian Rock 2010 – Day 1 at Palace Grounds, Bangalore


Heavy metal in India is big. Heavy metal in Bangalore is big. Gone are the days when the washed-up classic rock act toured India to promote their new album that no one else would hear. Nowadays bands in their prime want to tour India. They see it as an opportunity to connect to a wider audience. They are surprised when they see 3000 plus Indian fans singing along at a show. This familiarity is of course due to the Internet. Even the most obscure bands have ardent followers here and since listening to non-pop International music is still fairly niche in India, these bands get sufficient word-of-mouth publicity. This phenomenon especially rings true for heavy metal and all its sub-genres. India has seen many heavy metal bands in the last couple of years and these are bands that still have the ability to sell out stadiums anywhere in the world. Satyricon, Opeth, Amon Amarth etc have played to massive crowds in India and so it was no surprise when Meshuggah were announced as one of the headliners for the 14th edition of Great Indian Rock (GIR).

This year’s GIR, like the last, was a two day event with Swedish metal giants Meshuggah headlining. Local acts Bicycle Days, Slain, Kryptos and Bhayanak Maut were the opening acts, presumably lined in increasing order of loudness. Surprisingly the online buzz before the concert wasn’t as much as I expected. The ticket prices were slightly steep and/or there aren’t as many Meshuggah fans in Bangalore as I expected. I reached the venue early as I had backstage access and it was a privilege to see the band do their sound check. Watching vocalist Jens Kidman in particular blew me away as he seamlessly shifted from a meek ‘check check hey hey’ to a deafening guttural growl. Guitarists Thordendal and Hagstrom too toiled hard to ensure that they got their guitar tone perfect. Once they finished their sound check, I loitered around the venue and noticed it was considerably smaller than the previous concerts I’d attended. There was also just the solitary food stall and one tiny stall selling overpriced Meshuggah tees.

The Bicycle Days played in the dreaded opening slot to a lackluster crowd. The band seemed disinterested in the proceedings, robotically going through the first half of their set. I’ve always thought that TBD sound better in an indoor environment and that performance just proved it. They did find some energy when they played ‘27‘ and ‘Circles’ off their debut EP 42. Karthik Basker’s processed vocals adding a dimension to their psychedelic music.

The next band up on stage was Slain who, in my opinion, are perfect for an outdoor stage or arena. Their progressive/power metal reaches out to most audiences and it’s hard to dislike a performance by Slain. They performed material from their new album Here and Beyond and were consistent as always. Bryden’s lightning-fast, complex solos were impressive and so were the vocal harmonies that they managed to pull off.

Kryptos, who gig extensively across India was the next band on stage. Sadly Kryptos maintain a small repository of their songs on their live playlist. I love ‘Spiral Ascent’ to death, but even the most devout fan would tire of listening to ‘Descension’ live for the 50th time. They played out a predictable setlist of ‘The Revanant’, ‘Mask of Anubis’, ‘Altered Destinies’, ‘Descension’ etc. Bizarrely enough the volume on the PA was turned down (apparently due to a wedding happening in the adjacent grounds!). The audience chants of “Volume, Volume” grew louder but unfortunately the PA levels didn’t.

The same problem persisted with Bhayanak Maut too but the tragedy was that BM completely messed up their sound. This is a band that I love to see live because of their energy and stage presence but somehow they never got the audience’s reception that usually greets them. Even the band was appalled by the lack of enthusiasm of the crowd as they tried their best to force moshes but to no avail. Also, their new avatar with two vocalists seems completely pointless as new vocalist Sunneith doesn’t add anything to the band’s sound. ‘Twas definitely not one of BM’s better performances.

Finally, to quote an old cliché, it was time to witness what everyone had come for. Meshuggah have this reputation for being an excellent live act and considering the technicality and experimental nature of their music, it’s quite an achievement. Now I can say for sure why they have this reputation. The band completely made up for the disappointing decibel levels in the opening acts with their monstrous sound. The twin 8-string detuned guitars have this low frequency tone that perfectly captures the abrasiveness of their music. Thordendal’s off-scale solos were mind-blowing as he, with his guitar almost touching the ground, played every note exactly like the album versions. Vocalist Kidman too maintained the same level of ferocity with his menacing growls throughout the gig. They performed their obZen tour playlist as they displayed their prodigious talents with songs like ‘Rational Gaze’, ‘Bleed’, ‘Sane’ etc. Thomas Haake should be contender for ‘Best metal drummer’ as his machine-like drumming in odd time signatures seemed impossible. They also, to my great joy, played ‘Straws Pulled at Random’ which is my favourite Meshuggah song. The signature bass line was sufficient to get the small but ‘high’ crowd going. After pounding the crowd with their discordant metal for little more than an hour, they ended their gig with the popular ‘Future Breed Machine’. The audience was left a little disappointed as they didn’t play out an encore as they usually do but seemed satisfied with the whole concert experience. I heard the common ‘my neck hurts from headbangin’ refrain from excited teenagers as I exited the venue mentally ticking off yet another band from my list of bands-to-see-before-I-die.

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Sohan Maheshwar

Jack of all tirades, total shirk-off. Follow Sohan on twitter! @soganmageshwar


Beyond Live feat. Slain at Alliance Francaise, Bangalore


Upon hearing that Slain was about to release their debut album Here and Beyond in an exclusive concert, I cancelled all my (imaginary) appointments for 19th November and made a mental note to attend it. The concert, christened Beyond Live, was held at Alliance Francaise – a perfect place for music, of any kind!

We reached the venue “fashionably late” but surprisingly, bang on time! By the time Slain took stage, the small auditorium was already packed with fans. Backed by an ensemble of goth chicks and the Concordia Choir, Slain started with ‘Soldier’, the first song of the new album. I loved this song, and thought it was very symphonic and beautiful. Judah’s tone has become a trifle harsher and it sounds great! The vocals were a bit low on volume, though. Concordia Choir complemented the overall sound of the band perfectly well. After a couple of songs, Naveen Thomas and Tony Das came on to the stage to do the official “ribbon-cutting” for the album amidst some banter and words of praise. Two lucky chaps walked away with free autographed copies after their pass numbers were announced on stage.

After the applause died down, it was back-to-business as the band played out ‘Superhero’, ‘Spread Your Wings’, ‘Angel In the Sky’, a set-list covering all the new songs. Bryden’s solos were better than ever and the highly energetic drumming by Jared was icing on cake! The vocals were low throughout the concert which proved to be the only spoiler.

Ruhee, from the Concordia Choir, joined Judah for ‘Prodigal’ – some extremely good singing with an excellent range. The entire album was played in order, culminating in the operatic ‘Here and Beyond’. After much cajoling by the fans, for old time’s sake, Slain played one of their most popular tracks ‘More Than Conquerors’ – the last one for the evening. At this gig, Slain reaffirmed the fact that it’s currently one of the best bands in Bangalore. These guys have indeed come a long way since clinching NLS in 2007.


Interview with Slain


In early 2007, an innovative, refreshing sound made Slain become one of the most sought-after live acts within India, now reputed as the country’s finest in Melodic Progressive Rock. Slain has performed alongside some of the biggest international sensations like Iron Maiden and Mr. Big. WTS got talking to band members Judah Sandhy, Bryden Stephen Lewis, Naresh Nathan, Jared Sandhy, Jonathan and Manek D’Silva and here’s what they had to share…

WTS: You started off in 2007 and have gained a lot of popularity in three years, tell us about the experience so far.

Naresh: April 2007 was when this line up came together and we started off by playing a lot of competitions within Bangalore and outside Bangalore. There have been quite a lot of memorable shows! It was fun nonetheless it was hard because we were a very new band. At that time we even hadn’t fixed on our genre. People started saying ‘You guys are very diverse, you have to fix up on a genre of sorts’. It was only during the first six months of Slain that we decided upon the genre, before that we were very diverse in what we used to play. Watching a lot of the other bands and getting a lot of criticism actually helped the band, because we didn’t take it in the wrong way whatsoever, we still kept at it. We had this desire to get onstage and give something different – like a mix of metal and rock, that’s how Judah puts it. That’s what we did and it’s been good since then. We’ve picked up a lot of pace, and popularity has come its way, so yeah, it’s been good for the past three years!

WTS: How long have you all known each other? 

Manek: Too long! (laughs)

Bryden: Manek and I were band mates for a really long time. I don’t think we had a choice there! We started playing the guitar around the same time. The two of us were in a rival band. That was when Slain was a college band… we were all in college then. We competed and then I got a call from Judah who is the founder of Slain and he just wanted to take it to a whole new level. He started calling random people, all of us and different people from different bands! (laughs)

Manek: You make it sound so romantic! (laughs)

Naresh: In the beginning months he used to call me at least five times a day!

Bryden: (imitating Judah) Will you please play for me? (laughs) Even though we knew each other, I joined a little earlier, Manek came about 7-8 months later. That’s when the Slain guitarist quit. Slain totally had like twenty four members who came to be a part of it (laughs)

WTS: Every band has fallen prey to ego issues at some point or the other. How do you deal with them and stick together?

Naresh: We all use tranquilizer shots! (laughs)

Manek: What we all believe is that a band is more than just a few people coming together to play music. With all the bands that we look up to, there’s some amount of chemistry – them knowing each other is in fact half the reason that we like them, or when they’re on stage the amount of fun they have with each other, the jokes… you can see all that. That’s what inspires us so much, that these people are connected not only through their music but they also know and understand each other. Take a band like Aerosmith who were together for 34 years – when a band sticks together for that long, it just becomes such an inspiration.

Bryden: We’ve learnt to keep calm, it shouldn’t affect our music.

Manek: But fights do arise, arguments do arise. We know deep inside that whatever it is, we need to solve it because we’re a band. Even if it’s the worst situation in the world, we’re a 6-piece band, its 6 of us and we need to solve it together. No one else is going to do that for us.

WTS: Do you have fans you keep in touch with?

Bryden: Of course, that’s like a daily thing we maintain.

Judah: At every show, we make sure that we collect email ids from everybody present if they’re interested in sharing their email ids, we add them onto our blogs, we keep in touch with them, we tell them about our shows in the future. Moreover, we make them feel very important.

Bryden: They know us too well, they take us for granted, I’m not kidding. Having personal interaction with the crowd is very good.

Naresh: These guys come to watch you, they come to support you and the least you could do is hang out with them before the show or after a show. We’re not anything greater than them, they’re taking time out to come watch us and support us, without them we wouldn’t be where we are.

Bryden: Yeah we wouldn’t have a platform to play if it weren’t for them. We’d just be a bedroom jam band!

WTS: Are you a Gospel band?

Naresh: The lyrics that we write are all Christian, from the Bible but what we try to do is give something positive.

Judah: All the band members are inspired by our individual influences. We would like to adapt the same things, the same lifestyle – not only living it onstage but also off stage and we like to adapt it in our lyrics. People who don’t come to watch us live, can connect to us through our lines, view our lyrics online and see what the band has to deliver to the fans. We also want them to be inspired by our lifestyle,what we believe in. Its not about religion, we’re just giving a positive message .And the best way that we could do this is not by talking to them directly but through our songs. With a beautiful tune to it as well as some lyrics that suit it.

WTS: Tell us about your debut album Here and Beyond. Have you experimented with something new and exciting? How will it differ from the EP you’ve released in the past?

Judah: For us to progress as a band we definitely need a hard copy of our music to reach out to people. Not only in our country but also the world. Technically the band has decided that the album will be out in our hands by month end and then there’s a lot of groundwork for us to probably market our album. We need to get the right record label, speak to the right people. Practically speaking, it should be out in the month of September. It’s got a fresher sound, it’s very modern, there’s not much of processing in it. It’s heavy. Even the softer songs, which probably a layman would say is the softest among Slain’s songs, technically, even that is made to sound a lot brighter and richer on the CD.

WTS: How was it performing alongside international bands like Iron Maiden and Mr. Big when they were touring in India?

Bryden: Yeah, it was ok! (laughs)

Judah: When we started out in college, they were our inspiration. It’s again a dream come true for us. When we were up there we had to accept the fact that we are rockstars. It’s a prayer which turned out to be a blessing again. Bands that we wished to hear live, we opened for. It was an awesome experience in fact – playing with the bands that we like to listen to!

WTS: What makes Slain different from other metal bands?

Manek: That we still listen to pop. I’m serious. What most people don’t realize about pop is why it’s called pop – it’s because its popular music, anyone can relate to it. Even though we’re playing metal, by playing metal that everyone can relate to we’re playing pop in a way. I think that’s what Slain takes seriously.

Bryden: As a band what makes us different is our sound. I can dare say that we are the only band probably in South India who make power metal, metal and rock in a very cool way and give it out to the crowd. It’s said openly that we’re different that way. You put us in a rock fest we’re different, put us in a metal fest, we’re different. People say that “Oh! You guys are like the icebreakers”. We’re the metal band who smile and play!

Manek: Yeah, and who eat ice cream.

WTS: What’s the ultimate direction for your band?

Naresh: I say we will keep on keeping on! Do what we love to do and hope for the best. Rock music may not pay you as much as what Bollywood music does and if you want to do music full time, you have to do commercial stuff. But I don’t think any of us will get into that no matter what.

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Priyanka Shetty

Priyanka Shetty is the founder of What's The Scene? Follow Priyanka on Twitter @priyanka_shetty