Tag Archives: Megadeth
Interview with Rami Mustafa of Nervecell
One of the first extreme metal bands to emerge from Dubai, U.A.E. Nervecell has supported legendary bands such as Metallica, Anthrax, Morbid Angel and Suffocation are the torchbearers for a Middle Eastern wave of metal. WTS got the chance to interact with Rami Mustafa, the guitarist of Nervecell and here’s what he had to say about the band and their experiences…
WTS: Nervecell has shared the stage with a bunch of international acts such as Metallica, Sepultura, Machinehead etc. How was the experience?
RM: Oh it was great! We are old fans of these bands, since we were kids, everyone one of us in the band grew up listening to Metallica, Sepultura, Machinehead and for us to get a chance to open for them, not only was it a great experience for us as a band, it was also a dream come true. Meeting our idols, the bands that made us get into music in the first place, and getting the chance to share the same stage with them, it is a feeling that we cannot describe. Especially with Metallica because Metallica is one of the biggest, if not the biggest metal band and to get a chance to open for them exclusively is a big honor for us.
WTS: Just watching a Metallica concert can be quite an experience so we can imagine what you guys felt opening for them! Did you get to hang out with the band, any cool backstage stories?
RM: Metallica is a very busy band so to actually get a chance to meet them was crazy! Because they have their own fan club with thousands of fans all over the world and they spent an hour and a half signing autographs backstage for these fans. We were lucky to meet them for five minutes after our set. When we finished our set they were actually jamming backstage – they have a small room where they practice before they go on stage. So all of us were listening to them playing Creeping Death before they hit the stage and it was a privilege to hear them perform because none of us in the band had seen Metallica before. So they came out from the room and James Hetfield and Lars and us hung out. They were really cool. They told us that they liked our sound. It was a really quick chat because they had to go on stage. It was exactly 5 minutes before their stage time and we had only that much time to meet them. We were lucky and it was a really good experience to shake hands and take pictures with them. It was really great, theyre great guys!
WTS: So did Metallica influence Nervecells sound? What are the other bands that have influenced your music?
RM: We play a mix of thrash and death metal, the thrash metal sections are definitely Metallica, Slayer, Sepultura and Pantera influenced. For sure Metallica did influence us in one way or the other, the riffing obviously were heavier than Metallica and our style is heavier. The death metal section is influenced by Death, Morbid Angel and Cannibal Corpse. Basically old school death metal bands influenced us. We grew up listening to late 90s death and thrash metal era. So these are the bands that affected our playing and influenced us.
WTS: Growing up in Qatar, did you guys have easy access to underground music and death metal in particular?
RM: When I was a kid, I was in Qatar that rarely had anything – the only access for me was TV you know, the only channels I used to watch were Channel V, MTV. This is where I first heard metal and before that I used to listen to rock music. Bands like GnR I cant really recall what other bands but the first metal bands were Megadeth, Metallica.
WTS: Headbangers Ball!
RM: Headbangers Ball, exactly! I was six-seven years old and it was definitely not easy to find tapes or CDs and definitely no downloading, there was no access. My friends used to come from nearby countries like Turkey, Syria, Jordan and they used to have pirated music tapes from European countries. And whoever went to the States or Europe used to get me albums. Same with the other guys, Barney grew up in Dubai and he had the same experience. Dubai is more commercial but then again it wasnt easy for Barney. Whatever metal music we had was through TV and magazines. As we grew older we subscribed to magazines like Metal Hammer and Rock Hard and we used to get music and compilation CDs and stuff. As we got older we started getting access slowly. But metal in general, when it came to finding CDs in stores, youd never find death metal or thrash metal; youd only find the commercial stuff like Metallica and maybe Slayer – nothing more than that. Nowadays you find everything. I think its getting better, man. It was a bit of a struggle then, it definitely wasnt easy.
WTS: So now that there is easier access to underground metal, is there more reception to Nervecells music?
RM: Of course! When we started in 2001, the scene in Dubai was bad. But 2001 to 2005 it was really good. There were a lot of bands and a lot of underground gigs but people didnt know too much about metal. They used to come to our shows and learn and realize – this is metal, this is death metal, this is thrash metal. We used to talk with everyone. We used to go out after our show to our friends and fans and have a chat and talk about bands and sometimes trade albums. It was a learning process. So yeah, for the past 3-4 years, I think the internet and YouTube and technology have helped the younger generation to learn about metal really faster than before, in a shorter span of time. Nowadays I find that musicians that can play a guitar lesson on YouTube! (laughs) Its not a bad thing at all you know!
WTS: The Middle East is seen generally as a very conservative society, has there been any sort of opposition to your music and your lyrical themes?
RM: No, not at all! A lot of people get confused by countries like Dubai and Qatar, these countries are really modern, very globalized so its not a problem. What we sing about is really about humanitarian issues and personal issues, nothing extreme lyrically. So weve never had these problems. As kids, growing up in the society we learned that we have to respect traditions and morals no matter what. For me, it was purely about the music and then the lyrics. We were fine you know. Other countries have issues with metal at gigs and concerts. Wed have had some problems playing there but weve never been to these countries. We try to avoid trouble and we were very careful so there has been no problem.
WTS: So did growing up in the Middle East influence your music in any way?
RM: Yeah of course! The thing is James, he writes the lyrics, its a self-expressive kind of music and doesnt necessarily have to be negative. A lot of it is about reality, it could be about whats happening around us and it could be about things between close friends or could be about whats happening in the world in general. We dont really have topics that pinpoint and they are mostly general. Whats happening in the world does affect us but we dont really take it to the level where its concentrated to the lyrics. We always concentrate on the music first.
WTS: Your second album Psychogenocide was released in 2011 and you guys received rave reviews for it. Could you tell us more about it?
RM: This is our second full-length album and its on Lifeforce Records and we had little time to work on it compared to our last album because we were touring. We had a lot of tours in Europe and a lot of festivals between the writing process for the album. Compared to our last release its more of a dark album and a heavier album more death-metal oriented than our last album Preaching Venom, which was was thrashier and more melodic. Psychogenocide was a bit of both – heavy and dark. Some songs were very melodic and other songs were plain brutal. We really didnt plan it. When we write – me and Barney on guitars, we both write the music fully. We concentrate on the guitar riffs and then put it into songs. The composition is very guitar-driven. When the songs form, we decide – this song is going to be death, more brutal lets continue, lets keep it up the same way we want to do it. The album has a bit of everything and is musically heavier than our earlier releases. And of course we toured everywhere – Middle East, Far East. We went on a South Asian tour, out first Asian tour. Went to the Philippines, Sri Lanka, came back to India when we were promoting it. We also did a European tour with Morbid Angel, which was a very big tour for us. Morbid Angel is a very influential band and a big name in death metal so we were busy for this album. Were still busy!
WTS: Are you guys recording or writing the third album?
RM: The official writing process is going to be sometime soon but you know I write riffs, Barney writes riffs and we sit together and we compose. The writing process sure is going to happen soon, definitely this year. The new album should be out this year.
WTS: Is it a challenge to translate the energy of your live act into your studio album or vice versa? Psychogenocide is heavy, brutal and technical in parts. Is it challenging to play it live?
RM: Of course! When we write, we keep the live aspect in our minds. We always want to know if this is going to be a lively song or this will be a song that we cant play live. Whenever we go as far as we do and even if we have complex parts we practice it a lot in the jam room and make sure we pull it off and a lot of our riffs are pretty groove-oriented so naturally it works out fine. Luckily! (laughs) It is a challenge but in time we got used to it and we became better, we matured and started learning more and more. We did a lot of touring with a lot of live appearances. We started feeling off, like this pack of riffs or this pack of songs is going to be more studio songs so we dont really play it live. We do the songs that we feel would drag the crowds. Its a bit of both. We never really sit and plan like this will be cool riff-wise. It doesnt work like that. But luckily, were very fortunate that it works out, it starts to come out naturally. Were very happy about this.
WTS: So what have you been listening to lately? Are there any current bands that you are fans of?
RM: Yeah, for me it depends on my mood. I listen to metal all the time. Ive been listening to experimental bands and Im a progressive metal fan. Also old bands like Camel and Rush. I listen to these bands all the time. Sometimes Im in the mood to listen to some brutal, extreme stuff. Of the newer bands I really like The Faceless, theyre a really cool band. Ive been listening to this new band called The Haarp Machine and these guys are killer! Really cool technical, progressive stuff. Really depends on my mood, I dont really have a playlist all the time. It changes I was just listening to Slayer couple of hours ago – totally random!
WTS: It was great chatting with you Rami. Thank you for your time!
RM: No problem! My pleasure. Thanks for your time. Ive actually seen quite a few articles on Whats the Scene? Were really looking forward to playing in India soon. Its been a while since weve come back to India and we love the fans there. The crowds interact with us really well, we feel like were neighbours and feel connected in a way. All our past experiences in India were great so really looking forward to it!
The NH7 Weekender at Buddh International Circuit
Would Delhi/NCR pull it off? The question had been coming up ever since the NH7 Weekender The Happiest Music Festival announced its foray up north. Given Delhis past disastrous relationship with any big concert, doubts abounded. Amid much cynicism, tickets were bought, plans were made and expectations were given the freedom to soar. As the day drew closer, the excitement in the air was palpable. Some of the best acts in the country were going to enthrall us. Megadeth was headlining. For those of us who had seen them in Bangalore, attending a second live gig would give us bragging rights. This would surely be memorable. Like I said, expectations took flight. But did they soar? Read on to find out.
After an 80 Km drive from Gurgaon, I found myself at the Buddh International Circuit, host to Delhi/NCRs sophomore edition of the The Happiest Music Festival. The grounds seemed to be huge, the stages were generously spaced apart, there seemed to be a decent variety of grub, and the flea market was slowly coming to its own.
My first stop was at the Dewarists stage, where the trio of Aditya, Suhail and Tarun (AST) got things going. Although not familiar with their music, I nonetheless enjoyed the few songs that I heard. The only hitch was the poor sound. Sound glitches, as we shall see, made their presence felt at multiple stages throughout the two days, much like Warren Mendonsa, who flitted from one stage to the other, only, his presence was mesmerizing.
Anyhow, after AST, I made my way to the Black Rock Arena, where Vir Das and Alien Chutney were up next. For his comedy rock act, Vir Das was backed by two supremely gifted musicians Warren Mendonsa on guitar and Sidd Cuotto on drums. He raised quite a few laughs with his songs about Banging your mummy, the stinking friend that everyone has in BO is my Deo, a Haryanvi mans bedroom preferences in Village Man, the tendency of Punjabi mundas to grow Man boobs. He ran through the periodic table in The metal song, praised Delhis girls make up miracles and denounced all J.K. Rowling characters as whores. His set was peppered with expletives and his lyrics were delightfully offensive. I saw many people laughing and squirming at the same time, especially a teenaged girl whod turned up with her dad. Both were doing their best not to look at each other. Must have made for an awkward conversation post the set. Some may have dismissed Vir Dass set as being crude, but he got the crowd going, and he elicited more than a few laughs. Granted, he is no Stephen Lynch, but if you were buying what he was selling, you wouldnt feel shortchanged.
I strolled back to the Other Stage, hoping to catch Barefaced Liar unplugged. But all the sound glitches had led to delays, and I found Parvati and Mawkin just about to start. And for the next half hour, I stood enthralled as Parvati on vocals, Mawkin on the guitar and Natalie on the flute brought forth their brand of magic. It was serene, it was otherworldly. I did not understand a word of what they were singing, their tracks mostly being in Spanish and Portuguese, but I came away elated. And thats when it started to hit me that we need more of these festivals, so that music lovers get introduced to musicians we would otherwise never hear about, let alone watch them live. Yes, the NH7 Weekender was coming alive for me.
And now, back to the Black Rock Arena. Boy, this is turning out be quite a bit of walking! Id missed out Indus Creed and Zero was up next, also, by now a sizeable crowd had built up. Zeros frontman Rajeev, resplendent in a stovepipe hat, took the stage with a very Brit I say, old chaps and Zero kicked off a firestorm. They ran through their catalogue of hits such Old man sitting on the back porch, Hate in Em, Stop and Lucy, the crowd singing along lustily. The band was so tight, their stage presence so compelling, one would never guess they play maybe just once a year.. Bobby Talwars fluid basslines locked in tight with Sidd Cuottos immaculate stickwork, and Warren, well, he was just magical. His playing is so restrained, never too many notes, fast when fast is needed, but always melodic, never flashy. Is he the best guitar player around? I cant think of anyone else who comes close. By the time the quartet get around to their iconic PSP12, they have a moshpit going (which was rather annoying, truth be told, with a bunch of juvenile delinquents pushing everyone in sight) and the crowd had been transported to another world.
A bit giddy after the display of sheer awesomeness, I walked (a couple miles, it seemed) to the Fully Fantastic stage, set up in the memory of the Grandfather of Indian Rock, Amit Saigal. I was very much looking forward to Menwhopause. Sadly though, they seemed to be having a bit of an off day. Sound continued to play spoilsport. While singer-bassist Randeep tried his best to involve the crowd, something seemed amiss, and the people started trickling out. I trudged back, more than a little disappointed. Would Pentagram have been a better choice? Judging by crowd response, the answer seemed to a resounding YES. Oh well.
Final act of the night Parikrama. They opened with the very catchy Vapourize Nitin pushing his vocal chords to the limit. They followed that up with Am I dreaming, Load up, Gandalf, going steadily downhill. The vocals went awry, band members seemed to be missing cues, and the only saving grace was the violin virtuosity of Imran, who was in his element. The good part I finally saw Parikrama play an all original set. They were saving But it rained for the end, but ran out of time, and had to take a rather abrupt bow.
Well, so far they day had been a mixed one. The sound left a lot to be desired, some bands disappointed, while others shone bright. Zero was the highlight of the day for me. Could any band better their performance on Day Two? Oh, and no beer on a music festival? Even though Bacardi is the sponsor, ale deprivation is plain wrong. I stuck to sobriety and 7Up it was for me. Cut to the bright side again the organizers put in a great deal of effort to ensure the audience got a happy experience. Bringing in the mobile ATMs was a very thoughtful touch.
The long drive, the almost equally long walks and the occasional bout of excitable bodily contortions to the music on Day One meant I woke up in a distinctly ramshackle condition the next morning. But all that was soon forgotten as popped in some Megadeth and turned the volume to eardrum damaging levels. It was the big day. I was going to see Megadeth, again. Yay! But before that, quite a few more bands to listen to, some more new music to get acquainted with, and who knows, maybe get blown away by!
I made my way to the Fully Fantastic stage, and pretty much spent the evening there. First up was Ankur and the Ghalat family. Ankur Tewari, backed up by the prolific Sidd Coutto on drums, Johan Pais on the bass, and Niranjan Pozy Dhar (of Tough on Tobacco and Shkabang fame) on guitars, made for a great start to the proceedings. His simple but easy to relate to lyrics and great melodies had the audience singing along, jiving. Ankur regaled the crowd with songs about being broke, political clout in Delhi, Chand chahiye about a materially demanding girlfriend, and Yaari about well, yaari. His easy connect with the crowd was a treat to watch. The band displayed they have a sense of humour too. When the sound problems surfaced again, the band, instead of going silent, sang an ad-jingle for Bajaj lights from way back when. Ankur Tewari then crooned his signature Sabse peeche hum khade. I had a feel good lump in my throat after listening to their set. Later on I bumped into him, and told him how much I enjoyed his song and could I buy them online? His humility, when he said thanks and I could get some songs online at Flipkart, is something I will not forget.
Next, Them Clones took the stage. They were accompanied by Nikhil Rufus of Indigo Children on bass, while Adil Manuel subbed for guitarist Joseph. They played a tight set, belting out their hits, and had the crowd singing along. For their last song, Zephyretta, the band was joined by Abhay Sharma on the saxophone. Amazing how a single instrument can alter the whole sound of a band. The last track was a moving experience, and the strains stayed with me long after the song ended.
Rudy Wallang and Tipriti of Soulmate tore into the stage with their brand of red-hot blues. Rudys guitarwork was a masterclass in blues playing and Tipriti poured her feelings out with her voice. The one catch, again, was the sound. Too loud and too trebley, it marred an otherwise awesome set.
It was now the turn of Blackstratblues and friends. Warren was joined by Jai Row Kavi on drums and Adi Mistry on the bass, and he showed, again, why he is so in demand. I am running out of phrases to describe his guitar playing. Always in the pocket, never playing too fast, never playing too many notes. And always putting melody first. We have our own Eric Johnson here! Karsh Kale took over the drum duties and Apeksha Dandekar showed off her vocal prowess. As it turned out, Mr. KK can really play drums. Wickedly well. Nikhil DSouza, Vishal Dadlani, Uday Benegal, Prithwish Dev all took the stage with the man playing the Blackstrat and the crowd, which had swollen by the minute, lapped it all up.
It was now time for the big one. The Black Rock Arena was crowded with black tees, and more were sweeping in. The backstage cam focused on Dave Mustaine as he queried Are you ready for Megadeth? a huge roar went up, anticipation building up by the moment. Megadeth take the stage to massive applause, and immediately launch into Trust, off the Cryptic Writings album, followed by She Wolf from the same album. The one thing that becomes apparent is that surprisingly, the sound folks have failed to get it right for Megadeth too. Chris Brodericks guitar sounded too loud and whiny, while Mustaines vocals and guitars seemed to be controlled by an on/off switch. David Ellefson was pretty much inaudible too. Apart from the messed up sound, another downer was Mustaines patronizing speech in the middle, where he droned on about how he appreciated people coming out to see them, having had to make so many sacrifices, and spending money. Thanks for your concern Davey, but all of India isnt exactly destitute. Blah! Talk about stereotyping!
The crowd, though, was living it up. The masters then chugged through their Countdown to Extinction album. Tracks such as Symphony of destruction, Skin o my teeth, High speed dirt and Sweating bullets led to many a sprained neck. The crowd sang along to every song, hysterically, ecstatically. Megadeth played two songs off their new album Thirteen Whose life is it anyway and Public enemy number one. Youthanasia, surprisingly, got just one nod, with A tout le monde. Megadeth threw in Hangar 18 in the middle and ended the proceedings with Holy wars. I sorely missed Tornado of souls, but then everyone has their own deth favourites. The band took a last bow, Mustaine saying Thank you, youve been a great crowd, weve been Megadeth. As the speakers went silent, I had the last hour rushing back, reliving the Megadeth experience. The line from Turn the page playing repeats in my mind The echoes of the amplifiers ringing in your head. Did the Megadeth experience turn out to be what I expected? Did the four-year wait seem worthwhile? In all honesty, the answer is no. I went to watch Megadeth expecting a whole lot of anarchy, and came away with a little bit of malarkey.
Thus ended the Delhi debut of the NH7 Weekender. Judging by experience, the claim of The Happiest Music Festival is not entirely unfounded. It was well organized, the audience was well cared for, and it showcased some fantastic music. The 300 km drive, the aching body, the decimated throat were all worth it. It reaffirmed my faith that live music trumps recorded music everytime. Granted, the sound flattered to deceive. But I am sure that will be looked into, next time around. I cant wait!
Nokia aLive feat. Lamb of God and Skyharbor at Clark’s Exotica, Bangalore
May 26th, 2012 as many diehard metal heads had predicted was brutally EPIC. You would have had to be extremely daft to expect anything less from a lineup that read – Escher’s Knot, Bhayanak Maut, Skyharbor and finally Lamb of God. Thanks to the new government rule which prohibits Palace Grounds from hosting any further gigs, the concert took place at Clarks Exotica, which looked like a rather serene resort till the Metal gods took to the stage and tore the place apart. The venue was by no means a letdown but comparing it to the Mecca of heavy metal in India, Palace Grounds, would be extremely unfair (to both Palace Grounds and Clarks Exotica). The location being 30 kms away from the city didn’t seem to pose a problem to the 6000 plus people that showed up but mineral water bottles being sold at an exorbitant fifty rupees a litre did. Unwilling to move from their vital vantage points, the water shortage soon turned into a mini crisis for the fans upfront. The enduring fans however were soon rewarded as the guys from Bhayanak Maut were kind enough to throw their own bottles to the thirsty crowd.
First up on stage (starting sharp at 5 pm) was the experimental metal band from Chennai Escher’s Knot, who played an extremely tight set, playing a lot of their new songs including ‘Reciprocity’ which seemed to have struck a chord with the crowd. It was a pity a lot of fans had to miss out on this enlivening opening act as most of them were either waiting to get inside or were stuck in Bangalore’s famous traffic jams. From playing in the pre party gig for the Lamb of God concert in 2010 to opening for them in 2012, this band has come a long way and is destined to scale more heights.
By the time Bhayanak Maut (who were up next) took stage a sizeable crowd of close to 5, 000 had gathered, and in true BM style they brought it that evening. Their set was a healthy mix of some old and new songs – their brand new song ‘I am Man’ along with with some of their older songs like, ‘Perfecting the Suture’ and ‘Ranti Nasha’. The guttural twins Sunneith and Vinay were specially brutal and with the double guitar attack of Aditya and Venky, teamed with Rahul on drums and Swapnil on bass they prepped the crowd perfectly for the mayhem to follow (though Sunneith’s vocal levels on the PA was quite low for most part of the set) It took them no time to get the crowd going, and the two gigantic circle pits on either side of the stage were testimony to it. Randy Blythe in particular seemed to take a liking for the band, he was spotted clicking pictures of the band whilst their set was on and later went on to make a personal dedication to them when Lamb of God was playing.
Next up on stage was Keshav Dhar’s much anticipated live act with his band Skyharbor; going live for the first and probably (hopefully not) the last time with Daniel Tompkins. Though Lamb of God was the headlining act, I personally know a lot of people who came down just to watch Skyharbor’s set. The band has been creating a lot of buzz, for all the right reasons post the release of their first album earlier this year, Blinding White Noise: Illusion and Chaos, which also features Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth) in a couple of songs.
After the insanity of BM, Skyharbor was an invigorating change with their breezy vocals and intricate guitar riffs. You’d be forgiven to think that the recently moshing crowd was replaced by an opera audience (dressed in black metal t-shirts and combat boots though). Their set featured songs from Illusion and their sound was awe-inspiring to say the least. Keshav was his usual legendary self, and it was so refreshing to watch him just stand there smiling at the crowds while playing some of the most mind-boggling stuff on his guitar effortlessly, while Devesh Dayal from Goddess Gagged supported him beautifully. Dan’s poignant vocals melted perfectly with the sound of the band and it’ll truly be a pity to not watch him sing a ‘Celestial’ or a ‘Catharsis’ live again. Although I must say, it would have been awesome to see Sunneith on stage creating some ‘Chaos’ with the band, considering he was just around the corner.
Up next on stage for the second time in Bengaluru was the headlining act from Richmond, Virginia, Lamb of God. They came on stage to thundering applause and started their set with ‘Desolation’ and ‘Ghost Walking’ from their brand new album, Resolution after which the entire crowd of 6000 plus metal heads walked with Randy in Hell. The band thankfully played a lot of music from their earlier albums which had a more raw sound compared to the polished sound of ‘Resolution’.
The crew filming for Lamb of God’s upcoming movie must have, without a doubt, got some spectacular shots of wave after wave of head banging metalheads I literally had goose bumps when the entire crowd sang Something To Die For’ along with Randy. The band followed it up with crowd favorites, ‘Hourglass’, ‘The Undertow’ and my personal favorite, ‘Omerta’ which all led to two of the most massive and wicked circular pits I’ve ever seen. (People moshing had nothing to worry about; there was an ambulance on standby!)
They belted out some more classics like ‘Contractor’, ‘The # 6′ and another crowd favorite in ‘Laid to Rest’ before going off stage for a bit giving the audience a chance to comprehend the insanity that had just hit them. But before any sanity could sink in, the band was back on stage with some of their most characteristic songs like ‘In Your Words’ and ‘Redneck’ before sort of calling a premature end to the night (considering it only 9:30) with yet another crowd favorite ‘Black Label’, arguably their most popular song till date.
The party however wasn’t over for the 6000 plus metal heads who had gathered at Clarks Exotica just as yet, as Overture India decided to play Santa Claus to them by announcing that, “the booze is on the house”. That pretty much sums up how epic that night was. Was the concert better than Lamb of God’s first coming on May 15th, 2010 at Palace Grounds? Well, you don’t compare two great concerts; you just have to be there to enjoy them.
XXX’Mas at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore
The XXX’Mas gig held on Christmas Eve, more importantly on Lemmy’s birthday, was supposed to be a tribute to those artists born in December who had inspired the bands playing that night. The artists being paid tribute were Dave Murray, Lemmy Kilmister, Ozzy Osbourne, Kirk Hammett, Lars Ulrich, Marty Friedman, Randy Rhoads, Daniel Antonsson, Jari Maenpaa, Mille Petrozza, Chris Barnes, Chuck Schuldiner, Keith Richards, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison.
There were a few hiccups before the gig began – Corrode (covering Dark Tranquility/Wintersun), Pushing Tin (covering Jimi Hendrix/The Doors) and Theorized (covering Metallica/Megadeth) pulled out at the very last minute. Shepherd, Djinn & Miskatonic and Dhwesha pitched in and agreed to play even though it was at such short notice.
Shepherd was a few minutes into their set when we walked into Kyra. Since we were not familiar with the band due to last minute changes in the line-up, the first couple of minutes were spent trying to figure out what they were called. Though they have a characteristic doom-laden sound, the down-tuned, but heavily distorted lead guitars and the processed, yet abrasive vocals were very much reminiscent of YOB, or even Acid Bath. The throbbing bass was prominent in the mix, and even though most of the tracks lasted a bit over six minutes, the sudden tempo changes surely made for an interesting set. We later found out that this was their very first gig, something that was perhaps evident from the zero interaction the frontman had with the crowd. Shepherd is certainly a band to look forward to in the future, especially for the sludge-like vibe from their sound.
Djinn & Miskatonic was the second band of the three last-minute additions that evening. They have a very interesting and unconventional line-up that consists of a drummer, a bassist and a vocalist (yessir, no lead/rhythm guitars!) D&M’s sound is primarily bass-driven (duh), with the rhythm section playing a tight, but plodding version of traditional doom rock grooves. The vocals range from laboured, almost drone-like sections sung clean, to low-pitched growls. The feel, if we could use the term, is one of horror films of days gone by, to be honest. Their brand of ultra-slow, trudging doom is not everyone’s cup of gin & tonic, and will certainly confuse a metalhead who sticks to the conventional riff-based gloom perpetrated by the likes of Sabbath, Pentagram and Candlemass.
Dhwesha was the third band in queue and put on a great show even though it was only their second live performance and they had little time to practise. They kicked off their set with typical, old school death metal ferocity and ‘Hoy! Sala’ was the first of the original compositions that they played. After enthralling the crowd with ‘Dhwesha’, ‘Ugra Narasimha’ and ‘Yudhabhumi’, they even managed to squeeze in a rousing cover – Bolt Thrower’s ‘Those Once Loyal’. Together with Djinn & Miskatonic and Shepherd they provided an excellent opening for the rest of the bands lined up.
Up next were Gorified, one of the bands from the original line-up. They were paying tribute to Cannibal Corpse and Death, more specifically Chris Barnes of the former and the Chuck Schuldiner of the latter (Schuldiner wasn’t born in December but passed away that month). As is their standard, they got the moshing started in no time giving the crowd a nice, strong dose of their brand of extreme metal. Their brutal onslaught included intense covers – Cannibal Corpse’s ‘A Skull Full of Maggots’ and ‘Stripped, Raped and Strangled’; Death’s ‘Denial of Life’ and Napalm Death’s ‘Scum.’ They ended their savagery with a song from Gani and Charlie’s older project Cremated Souls.
Mumbai’s Albatross were the next band on stage and their set that night was a tribute to Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads. They took a while to get started and set up but once their set began they were a sheer thrill to watch. The vocalist – Biprorshee Das has a solid set of pipes and terrific stage presence; he was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the night. They started off with classics ‘Bark at the Moon’ and ‘Crazy Train’ and had quite a few people singing along. Switching gears, they played Sabbath much to the crowd’s delight. Following their commendable covers of ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ and ‘N.I.B.’, they had a surprise for the crowd – Ganesh Krishnaswamy from Bevar Sea joined them for a brilliant rendition of ‘Paranoid’. Reverting back to Ozzy one last time, they played ‘Gets me Thru’ and ‘Mr. Crowley’. They had one last cover for the night – Wolf’s ‘Voodoo’ – and did quite a good job of it, especially Biprorshee, who nailed those falsettos with ease. The set ended with ‘In the Court of Kuru’, a song from their debut E.P.
Headliners Kryptos were doing an Iron Maiden tribute set (celebrating Dave Murray’s birthday). Much like a Maiden gig, they had U.F.O’s ‘Doctor, Doctor’ playing on the P.A. before taking stage, something that rather unfortunately went more or less unnoticed by a large chunk of the crowd. They started with ‘Ides of March’ and proceeded to play ‘Wrathchild’ and ‘Killers’ with Ganesh taking over vocal duties the second time that night. Nolan Lewis attempted the formidable task of singing songs from Dickinson-era Maiden and did quite a good job with ‘Children of the Damned’ and ‘Flight of Icarus’. Biprorshee joined Kryptos for a phenomenal cover of ‘The Trooper’, and everyone in the crowd was chanting along fervently with the band. Ganesh was back on stage once more to round up the set with ‘Running Free’ and ‘Iron Maiden’. Kryptos were hands down the best set/performance of the night. They were also the only band to play only covers that night (Pillbox 666 doesn’t count given that they’re a cover band).
The last act of the night, Pillbox 666, took to the stage to a reduced and slightly sluggish crowd. Their set was a tribute to the mighty Lemmy from Motorhead and Teutonic thrash legends Kreator (Mille Petrozza), though the original billing had them doing a Rolling Stone tribute too. Vikram Bhat, the vocalist, couldn’t make it and the vocal duties were taken over by Ganesh and Bharad Ravi (ex-Culminant). The first half of their set comprised of Motorhead covers, Ganesh pulling of an uncannily good impression of Lemmy, playing ‘The Chase is Better than the Catch’, ‘Killed by Death’, ‘Iron Fist’ and ‘Going to Brazil’ before handing over the reins to Bharad who closed the Motorhead set with ‘Overkill’. The next half – the Kreator tribute set – was equally fun to watch (more so since the songs were from Kreator’s first two albums) with them performing badass covers of ‘Under the Guillotine’, ‘Son of Evil’, ‘Total Death’ and ‘Tormentor’.
Despite the last minute changes in the line-up and the fact that almost half of the bands ended up performing original material instead of covers, the good turnout and the nostalgia associated with some of the artists that were being paid tribute to, made sure the audience had a good time. Given how city-centric the metal acts in our scene are, it was a refreshing change to see a band like Albatross to come over all the way from Mumbai to play here. Certainly something everyone would like to see more of in the days to come. No milk and cookies here for Mr. Claus though, beer and cigarettes are more rock n’ roll! Bet Lemmy would agree.