Tag Archives: Riju Dasgupta

Extreme Metal Night feat. Reptilian Death, Solar Deity, Albatross at The Blue Frog, Mumbai


Sahil Makhija once told me “Mumbai is such a fast moving, vibrant city; it has a sort of rhythmic force. I think that’s why we tend to have more metal from sub genres like power groove.” While power groove had pretty much nothing to do with the extreme metal night at The Blue Frog last week, the city did. The Blue Frog has always seemed to me as a sort of a cocoon that nurtures an alternative universe – a different kind of universe every time. On the 19th of May if you entered The Blue Frog, it would remind you of a James Herbert book – the venue looked dark and forlorn, adding to this were two rubber monster-heads on stage looking gory and welcoming at the same time. With a surprising amount of coverage in mainstream media as well as music webzines, this was a highly anticipated gig. Only a city that houses the monotonous drone of a perpetual Monday, can subsequently house a public that is more than ready to release their frustrations in the midst of some musically channeled violence. This is why the Blue Frog Metal Nights are such a hit, and the extreme metal night was no different. Frog was packed with an audience uniformly clad in black band tees looking anxious to devour some extreme metal.

Extreme Metal Night feat. Reptilian Death, Solar Deity, Albatross at The Blue Frog, Mumbai

Death metal band Reptilian Death was opening the gig with the launch of their album Dawn of Consummation and Emergence. Dressed in black gothic priest robes, the line-up sported Ashwin Shriyan , Sahil Makhija, Prateek Rajgopal and Nishith Hegde, heads covered with hoods while Vinay Venkatesh had his face painted black and white. Their set was pretty well-received with moshpits erupting throughout the hour. I’ve heard their single ‘O’ from this album, and was pretty impressed by it; having said that, they didn’t sound as good live. It’s always tough to carry off a new look and people will generally laugh when they see something revolutionary and don’t know what to do of it. Reptilian Death has a great concept and good music, but the live act seemed to fall a bit flat. Vinay Venkatesh, famous for his power packed stage performances with Bhayanak Maut, looked a tad awkward as the frontman – having to act like a conjurer of sorts on a stage with little space can be a difficult task, and the vocalist maestro barely carried it off. Even so, Reptilian Death played a good set winning over the crowd with well crafted songs like ‘Inchoate’, the very explicit ‘Stimulate. Hike. Impel. Tear’ and my personal favourite ‘Emergence The World, Your Playground.’

Extreme Metal Night feat. Reptilian Death, Solar Deity, Albatross at The Blue Frog, Mumbai

Next up was Aditya Mehta’s ‘self titled’ band Solar Deity. Having read a feature about them in Bombay Times that stated “The band is notorious for performing in costume and doing live rituals during concert,” I was pretty excited to see them perform at Blue Frog. Turns out the costume part was true but the rituals began and ended with Mehta drinking (water) from a matka (pot) on the stage. The response to their music was pretty good. There was a good amount of cheering and screaming every time Mehta drank from his pot and there were a few moshes here and there. But Blue Frog was much emptier this time around. This was followed by their song ‘Circling the Moon’. With a fox trot beat that walked the band right into a few gujju-garba jokes, and later a social media showdown between Mehta and the people who cracked said jokes; the live rendition of this song has been the topic of much debate. Their songs ‘Blasphemous Chanting on a Moonless Night’ and ‘Ceremonial Feast at the Black Temple’ were the highlights of their set. The raw thunderous beats in the intro of ‘Ceremonial Feast at the Black Temple’ were evocative of a savage spirit and led to a rush of appreciative horns up. It was a good song to end their set with and I heard many humming the hauntingly melodious riff long after the song had ended.

Extreme Metal Night feat. Reptilian Death, Solar Deity, Albatross at The Blue Frog, Mumbai

The next up was Albatross, and to put it lightly, they owned the night. Some may say it was due to the fact that they had a clever set list with covers of popular songs like ‘Holy Diver’ by Dio and ‘Night Crawler’ by Judas Priest, but it serves well to note that they were exceptionally well done covers. With all their dramatic get ups and on stage rituals Reptilian Death and Solar Deity couldn’t nail the theatrics the way Albatross did. Riju Dasgupta’s moniker materialized, Dr. Hex, could take them all down alone.  Vigneshkumar Venkatraman had some amazing tones in his arsenal and Biprorshee Das’s vocals could be foreboding and releasing at once. The band was a brilliant package. As a hundred odd fists pumped in unison and people screamed and shouted their heads off, you could see this band had just generated a great amount of respect for themselves. They had successfully stirred the frenzy in their audience with the beginning of every song delayed with screams for an encore of the previous one. They made the night worth the hype. It was a pleasure to be present ‘In The Lair of Dr. Hex’ that night.

Extreme Metal Night feat. Reptilian Death, Solar Deity, Albatross at The Blue Frog, Mumbai

The night saw supporters and friends from numerous bands come to witness the onslaught. Some, it turns out, were not allowed entry owing to their age and had to go back. On the whole, The Extreme Metal night at Frog provided the metal community and its fans with what they need most – a platform and an outlet.

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Drashti Thakkar

Drashti Thakkar is a Mumbai based writer, a freelance drummer and loves working with lights for live gigs. Her idea of an epiphany is anything that gets through while reading the IPC. Her idea of a good time is a ride on the bike. No, She don't drive.


Made Love To The Dragon by Workshop


After almost a four-year long break, the Demonstealer is back with his funny hard rock outfit – Workshop, with their second studio release Made Love To The Dragon. Post the release of their first studio album – Khooni Murga in 2009, the Bombay band has witnessed a couple of line-up changes with Devesh Dayal and Aditya Kadam replacing Rajshri Battacharya and Riju Dasgupta, on guitars and bass respectively. Much like their previous album, the band mostly uses comical, lyrical themes to tickle your funny bone; however the guitar tracks through the album, song compositions and the production quality in general have gone up several notches. My only real concern with the album is that Sahil Makhija sounds like every man but himself in most of the songs, from sounding like Eric Cartman in ‘Down to Dahisar’ to impersonating a constipated middle eastern man in the ‘Bunty aur Mallika (Habibi Mix)’ the demon, has truly discovered his vocal depth with this album.

The album kicks off with the title track, ‘Made Love to the Dragon’ which slowly eases you into Workshop’s scheme of things with hard rock/pop composition, flipped out lyrics, and sweetened guitar work. The second song, ‘Down to Dahisar’ mirthfully captures the essence of living in suburban Bombay, and is a hostile reminder of the skyrocketing real estate rates in the city. ‘Bhoot Bungla’, with its evocative riffs, haunting vocals, reggae ghost narrator, and other random spooky elements makes it a really fascinating track. The fourth song of the album, ‘Munni Jawan vs Sheila Badnaam’ is probably the only song in the album I didn’t get hooked onto despite playing it on loop several times. The next track, ‘Gajanad Dhige’ is a hilarious portrayal of the stereotypical small town Indian man in quintessential workshop style, and is perhaps my favourite track of the album along with ‘She Came’ which is a beautifully composed satirical narrative on arranged marriages in India and the adverse effects it has on women and their needs. The seventh track of the album, ‘Naagin Ki Nazaar’ is an outrageously funny song to the say the least, the parallels drawn between the ‘Naagin’ and a certain part of the male anatomy is hysterical, and the lyrics will surely make any first time listener laugh out loud. The next song, ‘Blues Motion’ has a ‘metal meets the blues’, ‘demon sings the jazz’ feel to it, with the signature chorus melody associated with bluesy songs (if I may call them so). A re-mastered version (habibi mix) of that epic track from Khooni Murga – ‘Bunty aur Mallika’ feels like a last minute add-on to this 9-track album, however I must add that the obscure vocals will in all likelihood, make you chuckle.

In a nutshell, Workshop’s second coming – Made Love To The Dragon is a more than worthy successor to their rib-tickling debut effort Khooni Murga. Hamza ‘Hamzoid’ Kazi, carries on the good work from the previous album and provides the band a sturdy foundation to work with. Aditya Kadam fills in the void created by Riju with consummate ease, while Devesh Dayal is in top form through the album and it’s really not hard to decipher why he’s tipped as the most exciting young guitarist in the Indian music scene.

Musically, the album is way superior to its predecessor and I would definitely recommend it to everyone. Thanks to Sahil’s marketing genius, there are plenty of ways you can get hold of the album, there’s a cash on delivery option for the physical copy, you can download the digital copy online, apple users can buy the album from i-tunes and fellow Nokia users like myself can download the entire album absolutely free from the Nokia music store. Yes, you heard it right.

Since, I didn’t pay for the album I can’t say it was worth my money, but it was definitely worth my time and it was definitely worth deleting Path of Totality to accommodate Made Love to The Dragon in my phone.


The Kissing Flies by Albatross


When the Mumbai-based power-thrash metal band, Albatross, who peg themselves as horror metal, announced that their latest album was going to be a Split EP with the American Doom Metal band, Vestal Claret, I had asked the founder/bassist of the band, Riju Dasgupta (who goes by his onstage moniker Dr. H3X) why they were keen on doing EPs rather than releasing full lengths. He replied that they would rather work on their songwriting chops and on getting their sound right before recording a full length album. So when I received the early copy of their latest effort, The Kissing Flies EP, I was very curious to know how much they had progressed from their debut EP, the Dinner Is You.

Before jumping into reviewing the album, it would be appropriate to let you know that Albatross has a penchant for horror stories and all their songs bear proof of their inclination towards the macabre. This proclivity for storytelling is evident in their choosing to construct a concept around which they weave their songs. ‘The Kissing Flies’ theme is of a hero returning to his hometown, Raptorsville, which has fallen to ruin and beset upon by, well, The Kissing Flies.

The album opener, ‘Wither’, is appropriately dark and foreboding, invoking a sense of dread about subsequent ominous and sinister events. Built on a layer of masterfully eerie sound sampling done by Murari Vasudevan of Rat King, it features the epic, soaring vocals of Biprorshee Das, and creepy chilling laughter in the background.

‘Uncle Sunny at the Tavern’ explodes from the starting block and tells the tale of the narrator arriving at a tavern in Raptorsville, and his chance encounter with an ‘Uncle Sunny’ from his childhood. It paints a picture of a desolate and forlorn decaying town at the edge of total demise. This track is a huge earworm, not only because of the uber-catchy chorus underlined by the noodly leads of Vignesh, but also because of the excellent riffage of the two guitarists; though the guitar solos scattered between the verses could’ve been better thought out. Vocal duties on this track are shared between Biprorshee Das and the brilliant vocalist from the Swedish band Wolf, Niklas Stalvind, who plays the role of the ‘Uncle Sunny’ character in the track.

The 3rd track in the EP, the title track, is the most impressive – and the longest – of the lot. Clocking in at just over 10 minutes, it features some of the most diverse and punishing vocal performances. Ranging from banshee-like shrieks and screams to the high-pitched King Diamond-esque singing and deep-throated croaks, the diminutive Biprorshee’s effort is nothing short of dazzling. And if those variations in the vocals weren’t enough, Demonic Resurrection’s Sahil Makhija also joins in for some growling merriment. While the vocals are the highlight of this track, the dueling guitar solos of Vigneshkumar Venkatraman and Nishith Hegde are also riveting. However, in my opinion, the most engaging part of the song are the lyrics, which chronicles the horrors of The Kissing Flies plaguing Raptorsville.

The last track of the Albatross side of the split, ‘From Ashes Comes Life‘, is one of the relatively weaker songs on the EP. Despite being a decent song by itself, it fails to engage the listener as much as the other songs. I would’ve liked this track to be a bit slower in tempo, and with more down-tuned guitars, especially in the 4th verse. The song follows the protagonist as he tries valiantly to rid the town of the malicious malady of The Kissing Flies.

Overall, the Albatross half of the split is quite enjoyable, much more than the debut, Dinner Is You. What is more heartening and commendable is that the band seems to have put in some thought and effort into building the concept for the album, something which not many bands pay much attention to. The resulting tale is gripping and reading the lyrics from the booklet while listening to the album is actually rewarding.

The Vestal Claret side of the split features just one song – a mammoth 17-minute beast of a track, ‘Black Priest’. Divided into 3 parts, the track takes on the duplicitous clergy class with some very wicked, sharp and intelligently written lyrics. Sample this, for instance,

When you come and seek a savior

   Don’t be surprised by my behavior

Coz like my father I’m the deceiver

Here to prey on all believers”


“Let me put my hands upon you

You’ll be anointed when I’m through”

It is always a great pleasure to read lyrics as delightful as these while listening to music that matches them incredibly well.

The first part of this magnum opus progresses sedately, with measured and restrained drumming. As the minutes tick by and the track builds up menacingly, you slowly realize you are experiencing something phenomenal. At around the 8-minute mark, the track segues seamlessly into the 2nd part, or rather a musical movement, and switches gears to move with a bit more urgency.  Guitar solos make their appearance in this part, courtesy of the immensely talented Simon Tuozzoli, who incidentally, was also behind the knobs, tweaking the sound of the album. The colossal, dirty, down-tuned and doomy guitar riffs – a reverential nod to the traditional doom masters of the past, à la Cathedral, Saint Vitus and Pentagram in this nearly 6-minute segment are absolutely eargasmic . I trust a lot of listeners would want to go back and listen to this part over and over again. In the final section, the track loops back to the first three verses. When the track finally fades out towards the end, you can’t help but wonder whether it actually covered nearly a third of an hour! Throughout this lengthy chef-d’oeuvre, Phil Swanson displays his magnificent set of pipes, which are pretty piercing and unique in their delivery of the irreverent lyrics. In summation, this track is an incredible piece of work and might very well be a strong contender for the song of the year in my book.

In partnering with Vestal Claret, Albatross has scored an absolute winner. This album is a delight to the ears and I expect heavy metal and doom metal fans to trip over themselves trying to get their hands on it. Hope this album gets released on vinyl.