Tag Archives: Meshuggah

Firdous by Coshish

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Hindi Rock already enjoys a lot of popularity and it is particularly hard not to feel queasy when a band proclaims itself to be ‘Hindi Progressive Rock’. The long-haired, Lamb of God loving dudes when made aware of their earthly ‘Indian’ roots, can yield results that can be quite a mess. Stereotypes are a plenty and this is what Coshish shuns through their concept album Firdous. How successfully, remains a contentious question! Coshish is a four-piece band from Mumbai with Hamza Kazi on drums, Anish Nair on bass, Mangesh Gandhi on guitar and vocals and Shrikant Sreenivasan on lead guitars. Coshish, with their debut Firdous makes a dexterous attempt to fuse their eastern and western influences, encompassing everything from Meshuggah and Tool to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Coshish had their PR act sorted way before the much anticipated release of Firdous and a ‘Hitler Reacts’ video gets a worthy mention. This was perhaps just the precursor to how well thought-out their album would be and Coshish has not disappointed on that front. The very concept of Firdous and its artwork is as much laudable as unprecedented it is in the independent circuit. This ten-track album is bound by a unifying theme which is not all that apparent as one may think. The listener is expected to stitch the clues hidden in its artwork and rearrange the tracks to turn it into one seamless track. For the spoilers though, Coshish is the story of a man who denounces this mundane world full of pain and attachments. Anyone thought of Siddhartha or Kurt Cobain there?

Song-writing and the composition does more than a fair job but it’s the vocals that are unfashionably mediocre. The harkatein (nuances) have plenty of sharp edges and the voice overall is barely sonorous to effectively communicate the darker feel of the album. The title track ‘Firdous’ and ‘Bhula do Unhey’ stand out while the radio pop rock ‘Coshish’ is the perhaps the biggest dampener in the entire album. Though, it’s the finale ‘Mukti- an instrumental’ – the grandest of all that truly enriches the flavour of ‘Progressive Rock’. The track, in its entirety, traverses through mellow overtures which are subsequently taken over by heavy riffs and some impressive solos by Shrikant. Having said that, the production deserves credit and you have none other than the ever-impressive Zorran Mendonsa to thank for that.

The underlying darker theme, the album artwork and the music may have struck a few discordant notes, but Firdous still remains a remarkable debut. It is in every sense an unprecedented and indeed a very brave foot forward by Coshish. The very idea of a theme or a story to the entire album is a refreshing one and we can just hope for a domino-effect!

Shubhodeep Datta

Shubhodeep is home to a lunatic in his head, who is on his own with no direction home. Tell him about his grammatical errors! Follow him on Twitter @datta_shubho

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Bacardi NH7 Weekender Date, Ticket, Lineup and Venue Details

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Pune

Date: Oct 18-20
Venue: Laxmi Lawns, Next to Magarpatta City
Line Up:
Ankur Tewari, BLOT vs. Kohra, Blackstratblues, Chase & Status DJ Set, Devoid, Donn Bhat + Passenger Revelator, Dualist Inquiry, Indian Ocean, Karsh Kale Collective + NH7 All Stars, Krunk All-Stars, Maati Baani, Midival Punditz (Live), Nischay Parekh, Nucleya, Papon & The East India Company, Parvaaz, Pentagram, Prateek Kuhad Collective, Scribe, Shankar Tucker, Simian Mobile Disco, Skindred, Sky Rabbit, Slow Club, Suman Sridhar feat. Jiver, Textures, The Raghu Dixit Project, Vachan Chinappa, Vir Das’ Alien Chutney, Your Chin

Bangalore

Date: Nov 23, 24
Venue: Embassy International Riding School
Line Up:
Dry the River, Kailasa, Lucky Ali, Mekaal Hasan Band, The Manganiyar Seduction by Roysten Abel, The Raghu Dixit Project, Krunk All-Stars, Noisia, Nucleya, Rob Garza (Thievery Corporation) Solo DJ set, Shaa’ir + Func, And So I Watch You from Afar, Bevar Sea, Inner Sanctum, Karsh Kale Collective + NH7 All Stars, TesseracT, The Fender Benders, Nischay Parekh, Prateek Kuhad, Sulk Station, Zervas & Pepper, Bobby Friction, Cali P & Chiqui Dubs, Dakta Dub, DJ Uri, EZ Riser, Low Rhyderz, Pippin, Poirier, Reggae Rajahs, Sound Avtar, _RHL

Delhi, NCR

Date: Nov 30, Dec 1
Venue: Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida
Line Up:
Chic feat. Nile Rodgers, Dry the River, Faridkot, Kailasa, Lucky Ali, Mekaal Hasan Band, Noori, Benga, Kill Paris, Michal Menert, Nucleya, Sandunes, Shiva Soundsystem, And So I Watch You from Afar, J.Viewz, Karsh Kale Collective + NH7 All Stars, Meshuggah, MUTEMATH, Scribe, SundogProject, The Ska Vengers, Arooj Aftab, Dhruv Visvanath, Nischay Parekh, Prateek Kuhad Collective, Rajasthan Roots, Zervas & Pepper, Baba Jas, Dubtron, Frame/Frame, Moniker, Soundclash, Swaggamuffin, Tarqeeb, The Grind, The Heatwave, YT, Ziggy the Blunt

Kolkata

Date: Dec 14,15
Venue: Ibiza Resort, Merlin Greens
Line Up:
Indian Ocean, Kailasa, Papon & The East India Company, PINKNOISE, Soulmate, Swarathma, The Raghu Dixit Project, Arjun Vagale presents Re:Focus, Bay Beat Collective, BLOT vs. Kohra, Dualist Inquiry Band, Michal Menert, Nucleya, The Ska Vengers, Demonic Resurrection, Digital Suicide, Ganesh Talkies, Karsh Kale Collective + NH7 All Stars, Parikrama, Pentagram, Textures, Undying Inc, Zero, Girish Pradhan, Nischay Parekh, Prateek Kuhad, Tajdar Junaid, Vir Das’ Alien Chutney, AlgoRhythm, BASSFoundation, David Boomah, Delhi Sultanate and Begum X, DJ Uri, EZ Riser, Reggae Rajahs, Sandunes, Smoke Signal, Sound Avtar, Yidam

Ticket Details:
Community Ticket: Rs 3000 The Community ticket is a three-day ticket available to anyone who has purchased tickets to any of our festivals (Bacardi NH7 Weekender, A Summer’s Day or Invasion), or is a registered user on NH7.in
Regular Ticket: Rs 3750 Valid for all three days
Under-21 Ticket: Rs 1750 (You qualify if you were born after Oct 1, 1992)

BACARDI NH7 WEEKENDER WARRIOR
Pune + Bangalore : Rs 4500
Pune + Delhi : Rs 4500
Pune + Kolkata : Rs 4500
All Four Cities: Rs 6000. Buy tickets for 3 cities and get the 4th free. Not transferable.

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Vildhjarta – The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012

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The open air theatre of Saarang has been graced by Metal giants in the previous years, more specifically Swedish bands in the genre like Opeth, Pain of Salvation and Hammerfall. This year the 7-piece ambient/djent band Vildhjarta from Sweden visited the festival along with Indian metal bands Inner Sanctum, Blind Image and Scribe.

The show started off as dusk was falling, with performances from The Family Cheese, Crypted and 83 Mph, the finalists of Decibels – Saarang’s competition for semi-professional bands. Crypted was announced as the winner with The Family Cheese as the runner-up. As this mini-battle was taking place, the Open Air Theatre slowly started seeing a swarm of black tees entering the arena in high spirits.

Vildhjarta - The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012

Inner Sanctum soon took the stage by storm and started off their set and it didn’t take long for the crowd to start head banging and raising their fists in the air, but we soon came to the realize that the sound mix was quite absurd. The drummer’s kicks were barely audible and the bass was missing at certain points. However, the nearly-synchronized headbanging by the members of Inner Sanctum and vocalist Gaurav Basu’s windmilling and powerful vocals kept the crowd engaged. By their final track, ‘The Guardian’ the sound issue was sorted out. Nevertheless, Inner Sanctum was very professional about it and got the crowd geared up for the rest of the night.

Vildhjarta - The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012

Blind Image was next on stage and right when the crowd believed that the sound issues were fixed, they were plagued by yet another series of sound issues; only this time they were much worse. As soon as they started off with their opening track ‘Deciphered’ there were absolutely no guitars on the PA and this continued with the monitors going off for the bass player and drummer, and guitarist Pranav had his Pod X3’s adapter short circuited due to a power surge. Vocalist Noble Luke kept the crowd engaged amongst the confusion but owing to time constraints, the band had to end it with a short set filled with technical issues. Having heard that Blind Image have a reputation for being a very good live act, I thought it quite unfortunate that the band had to go through such terrible sound issues. Many Chennai metalheads were disappointed as they had seen Blind Image previously in several gigs where the band had put up amazing shows and the crowd expressed open disapproval of the constant technical issues by shouting “What the f**k!” along with vocalist Noble Luke. Word got around that there was a “bug” in the digital console that kept altering any equalizing and mixing that was introduced.

Vildhjarta - The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012

Next up were the much awaited Mumbaikars, Scribe. The band started off with a song famous for being a Rajnikanth intro song that immediately got the crowd’s attention, with whistles and cheers from all around. While vocalist Vishwesh put paid to sour moods caused by the sound issues by talking to the crowds in Tamil, the sound issues were tackled by Scribe’s own sound engineer playing the role of a much-needed knight in shining armour! The band had to skip a few songs including ‘Street Archana vs. Vice Varsha’ due to the on-stage sound issues. Overall, the crowd seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed Scribe with mosh pits and circle pits in the OAT. First-time metal listeners and IIT volunteers themselves were seen headbanging in groups. Scribe’s track ‘Buddy’ saw members from Inner Sanctum, Blind Image, and Crypted headbanging and moshing on stage. Even a couple of members from Vildhjarta joined them and the OAT seemed to be suddenly engulfed by a bout of madness at this point!

After a careful inspection of the technical issues, Vildhjarta was ready with a line-up that included three guitarists, two vocalists, a bass player and a drummer- something that is very uncommon for metal bands in general. However, the three-guitarist-trend has been noted in popular bands like the American Periphery in recent times.

Vildhjarta - The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012

“We are Vildhjarta from the World of War craft”, announced frontman Vilhelm Bladin as they took the stage. ‘Ben Blast’ was the first track they played and the crowd broke into a roar of howls. One could see that the band was influenced by Meshuggah and that the typical djent-styled riffing and the dual vocals were somewhat new to some people in the crowd. Metal noobs were unable to understand the riffing patterns and many were seen head banging off-time – something that, I must admit, was quite hilarious to witness. It was a treat to see the 7-piece band being an incredibly tight live act, though. The crowd roared its approval as the band played ‘Shadow’ the first track on the Masstaden album – with a slow, ambient intro pounding into heavy djent riffing. The dual vocals, with Daniel doing the screams and Vilhelm doing the deep growls, were a definite highlight. The next song ‘Dagger, which is the first off the Masstaden album to have an official video, was welcomed with metal fists and roars from the hardcore Vildhjarta fans standing up against the railing. The song comprises of alternate clean ambient parts and complex riffing; ‘Eternal Golden Monk’ came next, starting out with complex grooves and good use of the three guitarists in the band. ‘Deceit’, an instrumental track off their 2009 EP Omnislash that was infused with vocals and added to Masstaden, was filled with slow grooves and saw some intense head banging from the crowd. ‘Traces’, starting out with fast riffing, was the next song. It saw a circle pit instantly and was followed by ‘Phobon Nika’, a short 3-minute track that has quite a long clean intro and heavy breakdown riffs in the end.

Vildhjarta - The 7 piece Swedish Djentlemen at IITM, Saarang 2012

The three guitarists, two keeping rhythm and one playing lead, had perfect timing with their breakdowns and all of them seemed to have amazing guitar tones as well. The drummer, who seemed to have been playing along with a click track, was flawless and held the band together quite comfortably.

During a quick word with the vocalist Daniel Adel, he said that the band’s album Masstaden is based on the concept of globalization and its good and bad put together in the form of a fable; he added that his personal inspiration as a vocalist comes from Jens Kidman (Meshuggah) and Eric Kalsbeek (ex-Textures).

All these feelings’ was the last in their set; again, filled with slow grooves quickly switching to fast double bass drumming, it was a perfect ending to the set. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed the tight and intense performance and headbanged right till the end of the set, with the band performing ‘Dagger’ as the encore.

Sound issues were the only let down of the evening, affecting some bands more than the rest. This isn’t unusual and it’s quite evident that these things are sometimes unavoidable. At the end of the day, the OAT resounded with the sound of Metal and many people who weren’t as into the genre, went back home with the strong urge to give it a more serious listen.

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Days 1 and 2 of The Deccan Rock Festival at Mountain Heights, Hyderabad

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It was a warm, dry afternoon. Feasting on the extreme local cuisine was the first priority that day. Hyderabadi Biryani, at Four Seasons was a delight and best served with soda. With yummies in our tummies, we arrived well ahead of the crowd. The location was Mountain Heights which is primarily a tourist attraction with huge naturally occurring boulders covering the landscape. Quite an apt place for “Deccan Rock,” one would think.

Day One of the festival was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. but no one was allowed to enter the venue before 4:30 p.m. and the show went on to start only by 4:45 p.m.  Usually, rock/metal shows do start late but when you are promised performances by 10 bands in a day and the show starts when the evening is setting in, one would wonder how much time each band would finally get. The crowd which had gathered wasn’t big and till about 4 p.m., there was probably only around 30-35 attendees who had gathered to get their passes and many of them were familiar faces spotted regularly at metal gigs in Bangalore.

It was interesting to see so many sponsors for this festival including a TV partner in Maa Music.  Although the ground at the venue wasn’t as large as the one at Palace Grounds, being enveloped on one side by trees and rocky hills gave it a scenic setting (in the words of Barney Ribeiro of Nervecell we’d call it “a tranquility in this place”). The stage wasn’t as big as you would expect it be for an open air concert, but it surely was a visual treat to see big chunks of rocks serving as the backdrop and a hut nearby used as the green room gave it a rather rustic feel.

A quick word about the stalls – besides the regular stalls for eateries and beer, there was a merchandise stall by Moshpit: The Gore Store with death metal and black metal T-shirts, hoodies, badges and keychains. There was another stall with merchandise from Funeral in Heaven, Sybreed, Violent Eve, Escher’s Knot and Motor Militia.

The first band to start Day One’s proceedings was Hyderabad’s Shock Therapy who opened with their first song ‘Sparrows‘. They had played this song nearly a month ago at the Signs of Chaos fest in Bangalore and in no way could one have expected their vocalist to impersonate one of the popular cartoon characters Tweety in this song. The impersonation this time wasn’t as funny as the last time but what didn’t fail to tickle our funny bones was when a cameraman from Maa Music came up on the stage and started moving his camera in front of the guitars to give a zoom-in-zoom-out effect one would usually behold in South Indian music videos! Shock Therapy was on the groovier side of Slam death metal in their set at Signs of Chaos but they seemed more in the brutal riffing vein this time at the Deccan Rock. It was interesting to see them dedicate a song to Abandoned Agony which had some tight and intense riffing in it. A thumbs up to Shock Therapy for giving a good start to the fest.

Shades of Retribution got us confused with their sound – in the beginning, they seemed like a modern thrash metal band but in between their set they seemed to have a metalcore sound. The vocalist has a very raspy voice and they also have one of the band members play ethnic Assamese instruments which may have sounded great in the recordings didn’t blend quite well with the music when played live.

There is never a dull moment when Escher’s Knot takes to the stage, we just stood there mesmerized by the band – the energy is always on a high! They played the their usual set and jammed with Violent Eve’s guitarist to cover some tracks by Meshuggah . It was during their set that the first moshpit started and a wall, although a weak one, was formed.

Evergreen is a very tight, alternative hard rock outfit, but on that day they sounded quite ordinary. They kept dedicating songs to Motor Militia and Violent Eve who kept cheering which was so repetitive that it got quite funny after a while! They ended their stint with Louie Armstrong’s number ‘What a Wonderful World’ (Remember the show was against global warming!)

The first international band for the day was Antim Grahan from Nepal and boy, did they blow our minds away! Though mostly a melodic black metal act, they had brutal groovy riffs infused in some of their songs which just added another dimension to the band’s music and got everyone into a headbanging frenzy. Keyboards were also included in their music and were meant to add to the riffs rather than stand out on their own. Together with the guitars they created some great melodic segments. The sound was perfect; the vocals and all the instruments were perfectly audible. The lights were mellowed down during their set which added to the feel and the atmosphere. All in all, Antim Grahan was definitely the band of the day. It was interesting to know that they have been around since the first half of the previous decade and already have five albums in their discography.

Motor Militia was okay and had nothing extraordinary about them. What they did have though was 3-4 guitarists who made the stage seem a lot smaller during their set.

Violent Eve was the second good band of the day – they sounded great and their music ranged from death to metal core. Of all the bands their set lasted a little longer. A round of moshes followed when they played which mostly consisted of kids between the age of 14-16, beer in hand. Wonder who sold them that!

Sybreed turned out to be a serious let down. Maybe Violent Eve should have been chosen as the headliners. They played some techno stuff from the console which was definitely not suitable for a live show. We left after the first song.

Day 2 had ten of the remaining bands performing including the big names, thrashers from Dubai, Nervecell and the premier Polish Death metal band Decapitated along with Cyanide Serenity (UK), Inner Guilt (Lebanon), Funeral in Heaven (Sri Lanka), Devoid (India), III Sovereign (India) and Abandoned Agony (India). Though ten was the promised number, Sledge and Artillerie were two bands that didn’t play that evening.

After an extended tanning session under the sun waiting for the bands to finish their sound check, we were let in with a handful of other early birds, when our wrist watches were about to tick close to 5 p.m. Three hours past the entry time mentioned on the ticket. No surprises there.

The venue was setup with numerous stalls for tshirts and other merchandise along with food and beverage counters. Though it was not a big enough ground for a concert, it was sufficient to accomodate a few thousands.The stage was set against backdrop of rocks that were abundant in the venue. The setup on stage seemed simple with good lighting and a modest PA. Three drum kits were placed around the backend of the stage. This was a clever move as it helped the bands to successively take stage without wasting much time on drumkit setups. Sprawling the stage were the video camera crew from MAA TV armed with their equipment, whose over-the-top antics to get the best shots kept us amused.

After a few sips of God’s gift a.k.a good old beer and a quick tour of all the stalls, we were all set for the first act of the evening. Abandoned Agony was the first band to rip the air waves. This is a band that’s no stranger to the extreme metal scene. The trio delivered one song after another with precision. In the literal sense of stand and deliver, they went through a set of some serious death metal. The shredding action from Hitesh was the highlight of their performance. Their tracks are framed around complex structures and can get pretty technical at times. And like most bands who the dare to venture that far, sadly they received only a lukewarm response from the crowd.

No proxy for Artillerie.

III Sovereign is a band that any old timer Indian metal follower would instantly recognize. With respectable old death metal influences, they appealed to death metal listeners who would prefer aged music over the newer tones. The effort to bring in energy on stage was commendable. Vocalist Devraj traversed the entire width of the stage. Reuben, the drummer added charm with rhythmic head banging and slick drumming. Although the stage act was great, their music couldn’t reach out to the audience save for a few people who really seemed to be enjoying the music.

Devoid was next. I was rather keen to see them live since I had heard quite a lot about this Mumbai based Thrash metal act and I wasn’t disappointed. The crowd was pleased with track list which included many favorites like ‘Beer Song’, ‘Battle Cry‘ and other tracks from their album. Vocalist and Rhythm Guitarist, Arun makes for a terrific frontman. Bassist Frank brought out his inner animal on stage. The crowd dove into a pit and started head banging and cheering to every track. Fast riffs and mind numbing drums fills are ingredients for the perfect recipe to get your crowd into frenzy and that’s just what happened. I could not help but notice influences of Miland Petrozza in the front man’s vocal style. Good thrash metal was served and we liked it.

No proxy was given for Sledge either.

Sri Lankan melodic Black metal outfit Funeral in Heaven was the surprise of the lot. Their sound is a amalgamation of black metal with traditional percussion instruments which included the versatile Tabla. The percussion as a tasteful layer topped over the underlying rhythmic parts. This is the sound of what they like to call “Sri Lankan Ritualistic Black Metal”. There were instances of very noticeable sound problems during the set. Their set list covered some impressive original compositions. That being said there was also some scope for improvement in levels setup at the concert stage console which could have really helped in enjoying the band better as some instruments were hardly heard.

Inner Guilt from Lebanon is thrash metal band. We couldn’t find the thrash that was expected but it was a more modern thrash that the crowd seemed to actually enjoy. The mosh pit was alive again and so was sound in the PA which was fixed after the sound assistant made a trip to the stage and back. The band managed to connect with the crowd and put up a good show.

“We don’t care about record sales, all we care is connecting with you by our music” said Matt McKay vocalist of Cyanide Serenity said which lead to an uproar in number in the most pit which finally resulted in one fallen barricade and a few stunned steroid bouncers (dudes who looked like the ones you can find in local gyms) . This video will show you how. Before something important was damaged by the crowd near the stage, reinforcements of the steroid bouncers arrived who pushed everyone back behind the barricades and “bounced” the show back like nothing ever happened. Cyanide Serenity is a metal act from UK with modern sound and metal core influences. This was the band in the fest that the crowd really picked up. Great stage presence by the band members and an in-your-face vocalist , keeping his vocal capabilities apart, exemplified the electric atmosphere and energy that goes into making a metal concert what it really is.

Meanwhile, in the vicinity, Official Tshirts of Nervecell, Sybreed, Motor Militia, Violet Eve, Devoid, Decapitated were available at the stall along with CDs. Nervecell offered fantastic artwork on their shirts. Decapitated shirts arrived in haste and were a terrible disappointment. The shirts were still warm from the ink printed on them. With such quality it’s hard for the print to even survive a few washes and wears.

Nervecell has toured India in the recent past and had received some rave reviews as well. The band was invited as co-headliners for Day 2.They took to the stage without wasting any time. Due to time constraints they had to rush through their set list which included two new tracks from their new album Psychogenocide (Terrific artwork!). Vocalist and Bassist Rajeh mentioned that these tracks received their first live play at the show. It was a very tight performance with a set list that lasted around 45 mintues of some kickass no nonsense death metal with no breaks. The band has a good build of fan base in India, which they are very fond of. Post gig Rajeh and Guitarist Barnaby were seen signing and interacting with fans at their T-shirts kiosk.

It was nearing 10:30 when Decapitated finally took to the stage and they seemed to be in no real hurry. It was well into the night, the heat was beaten and the bouncers were vigilant for the next wave of kids ramming into barricades. The new line up now features Rafal on vocals, much anticipated drummer Krimh and Heinrich filling in with the bass duties. Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka is the only original band member left in the band. After a brief sound check by the Krimh, they kicked off their set with ‘Visual Delusion’ from their last album. It dropped hard on an eagerly expecting crowd, who reacted instantly by banging their heads to the teeth-grinding guitar tone and the face-slapping drum beats. The set list covered tracks from their last album ‘Day 69’, ‘A Poem About An Old Prison Man’ and the latter half of the set had their heavier classics like their signature ‘Spheres of Madness‘, ‘Three-dimensional Defect’ and ‘The Fury‘. A couple of newer tracks including ‘404‘ were played, however Rafal left the crowd guessing if it were from the newer material they had been working before the tour.

Vogg had a setup of two Marshall Cabinets wired as two channels for stereo. Using foot pedals to switch between Left and Right channels, he played around alternating between the channels for few intros and bridges. His more frequented use of loops using foot pedals and prolonged delays showed signs of exploration and experimentation in the sound of the band. From the looks and sounds of it, the new album can be expected to pack quite a surprise to fans especially older fans.

Before the crowd had soaked in all the metal, they were done with the setlist. However, just after they cleared the stage they got back on stage to play their last track ‘The Fury‘ before finally leaving the stage for good. Vogg did his exit by letting a piece of riff that he played last, loop till it faded away to a hum.

On realizing that the show was really over, we walked back to the stalls. After a round of “meet and greet”  with Nervecell, the next thing we had in our minds at 12:00 a.m. was dinner, which of course  will be covered in our next write up on “Hog food like a Hog: A guide to wannabe gourmets”. Or not.

Abhilash Achar

Abhilash Achar may be remembered as the (in)famous guy behind hits such as 'Extraterrestrial Human Being' and 'The guy who spent way too much time on the internet' or from his earlier works such as 'Serving justice in the mosh-pit'. He is currently working on his next big hit, 'Lounge Bedroom Music for a Metalhead' (You are welcome.) Find his musical misadventures at last.fm/user/humanethb

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Interview with Waclaw “Vogg” Kieltyka, Decapitated

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Wac?aw is the guitarist in the technical death metal group Decapitated. WTS had a quick chat with him during Decapitated’s visit to India and here’s what he had to say…

WTS: This was the first stop for Decapitated in this part of the world, what have been your impressions about music(especially metal) in India?

Vogg: Yes, this was indeed the first time for Decapitated to play in this part of the world.Probably we are the first Polish metal group which has had an opportunity to play in India ever! And of course we had a great experience too! I mean, the show in Hyderabad was awesome and the people were so friendly and it was such a pleasure to be there. About music, well, to be honest i don’t know too many bands from India so I cannot tell much about that.

WTS: You guys have finished working on your new album Carnival is Forever. Tell us more about the sound of the album and what fans can expect.

Vogg: Yes we finished with the recording session and are more than happy about the final result. The sound is awesome and you can expect very good production. This time we are working with Arek “Malta” Malczewski – the sound guy of Behemoth and also with Swedish producer Daniel Bergrstrand (Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth, In Flames, Meshuggah and many more) This album is not experimental, it is still extreme metal with good taste and you can recognize from the first second that you are listen decapitated. Every song on this one is diffrent and very interesting in my opinion. I like this album very very much.

WTS: Did you guys try to experiment with some of the local Hyderabadi cuisine and explore the city to a certain extent?

Vogg: The food was the best – especially desserts! We didn’t see too much, but we saw some parts of Hyderabad and it was a very interesting experience – a totally different world when compared to Europe! Some of the places were very nice!

WTS: What have been the significant non-metal influences to your music? How has it changed with time?

Vogg: Life is my biggest influence, everything that has happened to me and around me has inspired me, I can also say that every kind of music has inspired me a lot.

WTS: Decapitated has been a key influence for many bands in India. Any words of advice to the fans and musicians here?

Vogg: All the best to you people, I hope we can come back to India soon! Play music, smoke weed and have a good time!

Abhilash Achar

Abhilash Achar may be remembered as the (in)famous guy behind hits such as 'Extraterrestrial Human Being' and 'The guy who spent way too much time on the internet' or from his earlier works such as 'Serving justice in the mosh-pit'. He is currently working on his next big hit, 'Lounge Bedroom Music for a Metalhead' (You are welcome.) Find his musical misadventures at last.fm/user/humanethb

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

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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.

Sohan Maheshwar

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

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Interview with Marten Hagstrom of Meshuggah at GIR Bangalore 2010

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WTS: Good afternoon! So how has the travel been so far?

Hagstrom: Travel from Pune to here was extremely tiring. We were on an early flight. We haven’t slept much, but it’s all good.

WTS: How was the response from the crowd in Pune?

Hagstrom: It was really good. I mean, since we haven’t been here before we don’t know what to compare it to but for us it was a good experience. Like, it was the first show and people turned up so it was really good.

WTS: Moshpits?

Hagstrom: Yeah. All the crazy shit!

WTS: Did you get a chance to catch any of the local bands?

Hagstrom: Actually, no. The reason for it is like I said we have travelled for 24 hours to get here. So we had to catch the hours so we could sleep. Unfortunately we arrived at the stage like few minutes before the show so we caught a couple of songs by Enslaved.

WTS: Your musical style evolves in every album. Catch-33 was mostly experimental. ObZen saw a shift from experimental to being slightly melodious, and back to the roots. How does your musical style evolve?

Hagstrom: I’d really like to answer that question but honestly I can’t. When you are in a band, or at least in our band, what happens is that we are just a bunch of fu**ed-up guys who want to have fun with music. That’s how it started out and that’s the way it’s been since. So why an album turns out a certain way, we never sit down and think we need to do this or we should do that. We just, you know, when the ideas come we build on that and it turns into an album. So I guess it’s just a fingerprint of what we are going through at the time.

As for Catch-33, it is one of those things where we’ve been discussing doing that type of project. We never thought we’d get around with it but for that album we thought, okay now is that time. So it’s kind of a natural process. What happens on one album is dictated by what we have done on our albums before. Because we made Catch-33 that made it feel fresh to go back and use regular songs. What we do with the sound we have now is to bring in a little bit of tweak into the old style and create something new. So if we tried that when we were doing Catch-33 it probably wouldn’t have turned into the album it is. You know, we go back and forth a little bit (laughs). Having said that I don’t have a clue what the next album’s gonna sound like even thought we are writing it now. 

WTS: When’s the next album going to come out?

Hagstrom: I don’t know, next year probably. We are hoping September/October, maybe.

WTS: Which has been your favorite album since the time you started making music with Meshuggah and why would it be your favorite album?

Hagstrom: Personally, albums are fingerprints of the work you’ve been doing. There was something about the albums we made at the time which makes you feel “Oh this album is cool in this way and this album sucks in this way”, so, you know, it’s different. I like certain parts of certain albums. For us I’d say that Catch-33 was the most gratifying album to make because it was something very different and it was an idea we had for a very long time. It was one of those things, you know, like a white sheet of paper and you do whatever you want to. Because there were no rules! It was like start here and stop there. That was liberating and we had a lot of fun making that album.

If I had to pick one, I’d pick that one (Catch-33). But then again, albums are very different and it’s hard to choose just one because I like ObZen a lot for certain aspects of it. Catch-33 is such a monumental project because it’s just one track and we weren’t exactly sure how to pull it off. So when it came out it looked as close to our vision as possible. That’s a good feeling when you are done with an album.

WTS: How would you categorize Meshuggah – are you a Progressive Metal band or a Technical Death Metal band or an Experimental Metal band?

Hagstrom: It’s pointless to describe it. ‘Cause we’ve been called a lot. Like Swedish Death Metal, Math Metal, you know, and I guess every band gets that. But for us it is Experimental Metal. We’ve been Black Metal from Norway too according to the media (laughs). It’s tricky, because you do your stuff and in the end it’s just Metal, you know.

WTS: Speaking of genres, Motorhead call themselves a rock n’ roll band. They do not agree with the media classification of them as a Speed Metal or for that matter any metal band.

Hagstrom: Um hmmm… I understand that. Because in terms of what you do as a musician that (genre classification) should be the least important aspect of what you do. You do your music and then people listen to it and they say different stuff about it. That’s fine. That’s awesome. For us we never thought what kind of music we play. We play Meshuggah Metal. I mean, that’s what we do. There’s no use thinking about it. One point of time, in the US, there was a lot of talk about that Math Metal thing. They said, “You are the pioneers of Math Metal.” We cannot possibly be the pioneers of a genre we don’t even know what it means. I don’t even know what it is. So that’s probably not true.

WTS: Are you guys into Math at all?

Hagstrom: No.

WTS: Maybe you get this a lot but how do you achieve those time signatures and beats?

Hagstrom: We don’t achieve anything. It’s just 4/4 time signature all the time. Throughout the career of Meshuggah, there’s been polyrythmics and stuff, but through a theoretical standpoint if you could break it down (the song) what happens is the song starts and we’ve got 4/4 beat (claps to 4/4 beat) just like AC/DC, nothing more but we mess around with it. But the riffs revolve around 4/4. It’s rare that we create odd time signatures. It happens once in a while but 95% of Meshuggah songs are 4/4. People go, “It’s not, because you do this and that”. It’s not.

WTS: Where do your lyrical and musical inspirations/influences originate?

Hagstrom: When we were kids, when we started as a band we were very much influenced by the bay-area thrash scene. We were influenced by bands like Rush. As we evolved as a band the inspiration may have been less from other types of music and more from a movie or, you know, stuff that happens in your life. We also feed off each other a lot. When we start to write a song, we start to throw ideas at each other and that’s when the creative process flows.

But there’s a difference between influences and inspirations, in my opinion. In “influence” we actually hear (other bands) and try to achieve something, and you are not trying to copy something ’cause there’s a lot of band copying out there. Influence is when you hear, “Oh! This guy here wrote this song. You got to listen to his band.” And if you are “inspired” by something you don’t have to emulate anything about what you are doing. You might be inspired by a writer who has got nothing to do with music or art but the way he’s doing his thing so convincingly that it becomes unique. That is something that attracts the band. Pantera had their own music. They had their own style. But they have already done it. We try to create our own unique music. Our own sounds which people instantly recognize with us even if it’s not successful.

WTS: What are the plans after the tour?

Hagstrom: Sleeping! For a week.

WTS: Isn’t it snowing heavily back in Sweden?

Hagstrom: I talked to my wife, it’s 20 Celsius below in Sweden. A lot of snow. It’s normal winter. It’s cold and it’s very different from here. But like I said we’ve slowly started writing an album, so we’ll just take some time off during Christmas holidays, spend time with our families then come January we are diving right into the writing process. The writing process is one of those things which might be quick, which might be slow. So we don’t know yet. Then we are gonna do some shows probably in March in Scandinavia, you know, shift focus from the writing process and then go back again (to recording). When the album’s completed and out for mixing we are gonna play some summer festivals across Europe.

WTS: What are your expectations from the Bangalore crowd tonight?

Hagstrom: I don’t know. We really had a good time last night. We hope it’s gonna be the same here. Like I said, first time in new territory you never know. There might be just 300 people here or more.

WTS: One last thing. Tell us about that 8-string crazy insane beast that you guys carry.

Hagstrom: It’s an Ibanez custom-made and to cut the story short, it started out when we wanted something new in our sound. We were experimenting with tuning down and tweaking the regular guitar then there was this guy who suggested, “Have you thought about an 8-string guitar?” The thought had crossed our mind but it didn’t seem right. He had one, that he’d prototyped. We tried it out and that really made the difference in the sound since the Nothing, I album. It made a huge impact on how we made the guitar sound. It is pretty much like you said “a beast” but on the other hand they are really well built guitars and work out just fine. They help us tremendously in teams of inspiration. The instrumental part sound just great and we could do shit just like we want to. The creativity just flows out.

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