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The Pit V.5 : Rising Fists at Tapan Theatre, Kolkata

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For the past few years Kolkata has been playing catch up with the rest of the country’s metal scene. A complete lack of opportunities for the city’s metal bands due to a combination of uncooperative venue owners and event management groups unwilling to host metal gigs, non-existent media coverage, and a huge apathy towards metal in general had led to the metal scene in this city having a very retarded growth. Until, that is, a few bands decided to take matters into their own hands. And so was born the concept of ‘The Pit’ –  Kolkata’s very own metal festival. The PIT was not just about a few bands and metal-heads getting together and having a good time. It was about promoting music amongst the youth of Kolkata and developing awareness about the heavy metal genre amongst Kolkatans in general.

Till date, four PITs have been held in Kolkata. And each version of the PIT had been a resounding success, with the crowd count growing exponentially. Plus it had also helped quite a few city bands show off their ‘wares’ to the metal loving Kolkata crowd. The Pit v.4 was held on the 20th of October, 2010 with a turnout of 850 – a turnout totally unprecedented. But the PIT management team always had bigger expectations for PIT v.5, and when plans for the 5th version of Kolkata’s one and only metal fest were announced, the city’s metal community went crazy.

The theme for this edition of The Pit laid stress on the fight and struggle that the Kolkata metal community was making to get their voices heard and to have their music accepted by the masses. And the phrase ‘Rising Fists’ emphasized how local metalheads would not bow down and be controlled by the rest of the city’s music circuit just because their choice of musical genre was not at the top of the popularity charts. So, with news spreading around town about the PIT like wild-fire, tickets started selling like hot-cakes and it was quite obvious that the PIT v.5 would bring about the biggest and baddest turnout for any metal show this side of the country!

And so it was proved – on the 19th of April, 2011 a crowd of approximately 1500 music lovers turned a quiet neighbourhood in the Chetla area of South Kolkata into a veritable sea of music lovers -hardcore metal-heads and new converts alike. And the venue Tapan Theatre was bursting at the seams! Never before had such a huge crowd turned up for a metal show in Kolkata, to show their solidarity for the improvement of the metal scene in this city. And this unity pumped up each of the 8 bands that performed on this fateful day to produce one scintillating performance after another.

A word about the bands – there were 8 bands lined up and it was a combination of both the young and the experienced. Two bands, Dark Rituals and Burnout Syndrome, had been selected through a rigorous audition round, while 2 Kolkata veterans, Sinful Oath and Noyze Akademi, were making comebacks at The Pit with new line-ups. Also on the list of performers was What Escapes Me, the young pretenders to the Kolkata metal throne. And to top it off were the current three heavyweights of the city’s metal scene: Evil Conscience, Chronic Xorn and Yonsample. The crowd certainly had a lot to look forward to.

Dark Rituals were the opening band for Pit v.5. The gates had just been opened 30 minutes before their performance, so the crowd was still settling down when they went up on stage. But this did not deter the young band, as they belted out a set-list which comprised of 4 originals and 2 Lamb Of God covers. For most people in the crowd, this was their first taste of Dark Rituals’ brand of music, and they certainly were not disappointed.

The comeback kids Noyze Akademi were next on stage. This band was one of the founding members of the Pit group and they had a short but successful stint before their initial break-up, their RSJ pub-rock performance being a definitive highlight. This new avatar of the band had only one original member left, plus there were rumours about the band experimenting with a new sound. Well all questions were answered and emphatically so. Noyze Akademi blew the crowd away with their short power-packed stint on stage – 4 OCs and 1 cover by the deathcore band Impending Doom and the crowd did not know what had hit them! The moshing had truly started by now and even an impromptu wall-of-death followed suit. Which led to the arrival of the third band on stage.

Burnout Syndrome, although fairly new, was playing their second Pit (having also featured at Pit v.4) – the crowd knew them and so they had no problem warming up to the band, especially after the performance of their set-list which included a mix of originals and covers by bands like Threat Signal and Veil Of Maya. It was interesting to see that the original compositions by Burnout Syndrome had a distinct djent texture to them, and it looks like they are gradually making a shift from their metal-core roots, an interesting approach indeed!

The day’s second band on the comeback trail, Sinful Oath, was the Pit’s 4th band on stage. Although being regulars at each Pit version, Sinful Oath had been inactive in the Kolkata metal circuit for a very long time. A string of line-up changes had led to the band introducing a practically new and unknown line-up apart from 2 previous members. And although their set-list was short (comprising of 4 covers and 1 instrumental), a bout of nerves did take a toll on the newer members. But they did manage to recover their poise and delivered a solid performance, much to appreciation of the audience.

Half of the bands on the list had played their part for the Pit – but things were now moving at a break-neck pace because it was time for the second half to commence. And Evil Conscience was ready to kick-start the evening’s proceedings with their set-list of originals and metal covers, their performance being enough to ram the crowd into a brutal submission. Evil Conscience played a total of 7 songs -4 originals and 3 covers, and the brutality of their musical assault left the crowd feeling like they had been smashed with a sledgehammer. Especially so, when they played their popular original ‘Your God Is Burning‘. The moshpit by this time had become a war-zone, which suited the band just fine.

But the audience had no time for a breather, because Evil Conscience was followed by Chronic Xorn! After the very successful release of their EP Death.Destruction.Sermon, the popularity of this Kolkata band had increased by leaps and bounds. And this was evident from the amount of cheering and sing-a-longs to their songs. The metal-heads in the front row were now indulging themselves in a hefty bout of stage diving and crowd-surfing, and the band seemed to love it! Each song performed by Chronic Xorn was met by a huge round of applause and their vocalist literally had the crowd eating out of his hands! For the record, Chronic Xorn performed all the songs from their EP as well as a new single ‘Bleeding‘ and a re-worked version of an older single ‘Valentine Of Nightmares’. And as always, the band ended their set with a Lamb Of God cover (on public demand!) – ‘Black Label’, which drove the crowd wild!

The event was fast approaching its end – but not before Yonsample got their chance to blast the crowd! The current darlings of the Indian metal scene, Yonsample has been getting rave reviews for their newly released debut EP Paraphernalia. So with that in mind the band gave a heavy duty performance of each and every song on this EP of theirs. And when Yonsample performed their crowd favourite ‘Breaking Through‘, a 1000+ voices broke into song singing each and every line of chorus much to the amazement and also to the immense satisfaction of the band. It was a breath-taking moment indeed and one of the highlights of the entire Pit v.5 event.

Closing out Pit v.5 was What Escapes Me, a band which had been sweeping, left and right, the first prize at most college band competitions this season, including top honours at the IIT Kharagpur fest. Unfortunately due to time constraints and due to the un-cooperative venue management, their set-list had to be cut short to just 3 songs – 2 originals and a cover. But for all those who were witnessing them for the first time, they did get a taste of their sound and also a listen to their most popular OC, ‘Section 66 Part 5‘ – a song which has already become a metal anthem in the Kolkata circuit in these last few months.

And so we came to the end of Pit v.5 – another glorious day of metal in the City Of Joy, leaving everyone in attendance totally wasted, completely exhausted but extremely happy. Rightly so too, because the crowd response was beyond belief and it proved once and for all that the Kolkata metal scene is alive and kicking, and that the metal-heads of the city are willing to stand up against the step-daughterly treatment meted out to them. This version of the Pit would, of course, not have been possible if it weren’t for the sponsors who lent a timely helping hand: Lizard Skin Tattoos and Vibrations – The Music Store. And hopefully more companies and organizations will come forward to lend their support to the Pit so that the metal scene in Kolkata may grow further. The future of metal in Kolkata indeed seems to be bright, all thanks to the success of the PIT.

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