Tag Archives: Sanju Aguiar

The Invasion(EP) by Devoid

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Devoid, one of the heavyweights of Bombay’s ever growing thrash metal scene are out with a new concept EP for their sophomore release – The Invasion. Post the release of their first album A God’s Lie in 2010 with Demonstealer Records, the band saw a couple of line-up changes with Sanju Aguiar and Abhishek Kamdar replacing Keshav Kumar and Frank Pawar on lead guitar and bass respectively. Shubham Kumar continues to handle his drum duties, while vocalist and rhythm guitarist Arun Iyer doubles up as the bands producer and engineer for this EP making The Invasion their first DIY release in its 7 years of existence.

With only 5 tracks clocking in at a little over 20 minutes this release definitely packs a punch above its weight, with the prime concept of the album revolving around an alien invasion on planet earth. The story unfolds with a two and a half minutes long instrumental ‘The Prelude’ followed by ‘The Invasion’ – which characters the arrival of the extra-terrestrial into this world with some heavy thrash metal. ‘Pandemonium is Now’ outlines the anarchy and the chaos that grips a society in the face of extinction. The 4th track ‘Brahma Weapon’, easily my most favourite song from the EP, is the final fury of the gods upon civilization, chronicling the obliteration of this planet, with mentions of mass extinction, burning of the righteous and drowning of the sun. This mini epic of sorts ends with ‘The Grand Design’, which as the title itself suggests is about the grand plan that spells out the bigger picture, talking about how ‘everything that’s destroyed is rebuilt with the gift of time’ and the ‘design being the matter of all creation’.

Musically, The Invasion is heavy, fast and an unadulterated ode to thrash metal that’ll make you head bang irrespective of whether you’re in your car, at your workplace, or worse, in college.  The EP sounds massive in its entirety with some really vicious guitar riffs, along with rock-solid drumming and pitch-perfect vocals. The acoustic guitar track in ‘The Prelude’ is a fine way of easing the listener into the skull crushing heavy metal that follows in the remaining tracks. Personally, ‘The Invasion’ is one of the best EPs I’ve heard in a long time, partly because of my affinity towards thrash metal but greatly because of this band’s ability to blow you off your mind. In my view, this EP by Devoid is one of the best releases we’ve had from Bombay in quite some time and it’ll honestly be really unfair to critique the album based on any one of its shortcomings (not like there are any blatant ones). The storytelling is impeccable, the concept is questionably innovative, the song writing is stellar, artwork is literally out of this world and the production quality is good, if not excellent.  Any metal head who manages to get his/her hands on this monster of an EP will be in for an absolute treat, which unfortunately lasts just a little over 20 minutes (40 minutes on loop). It’s been just a little over 36 hours since I got the EP and I am already yearning for their sophomore release, which will again be a concept album.

Final Verdict:  Very highly recommended by the reviewer.

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Mihir Joshi’s The Bombay Rock Project at Inorbit Mall, Mumbai

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The Bombay Rock Project, although being a new entrant into Mumbai’s music scene, comprises a line-up of musicians who are well established in their own right, each of whom plays for a number of city bands. The gig they were playing today was at a mall, and I didn’t really know what to expect from them in terms of music, or the venue’s sound setup.

It was a typically windy and rainy June evening in Vashi, as the band set themselves up in the Inorbit Mall compound, close to the entrance. The place was sheltered by an unusually psychedelic looking ceiling way above, and kept out most of the rain. There was a sparse crowd present, as you’d expect in a mall, most of who were either known to the band, or curious passers-by.

A quick chat with one of the band members told me that I was to expect covers of classic Bollywood songs, with a twist, and maybe a couple of English songs thrown in as well. This surprised me, given the kind of music that I’ve heard each of these musicians play before with other bands.

So finally after a long drawn out sound check, the band was good to go. On lead guitar was Sanju Aguiar of Devoid, on bass was Ishaan Krishna of The Hoodwink Circle, on drums was Agnnelo Picaardo of Dischordian, on keyboards and saxophone was Nigel Rajaratnam of Dischordian, and spearheading the project was The Works’ vocalist, Mihir Joshi.

The first song was an upbeat cover of the title track of the Amitabh Bacchan starrer, Don, and set the stage for an energetic set list. The next was a cover of ‘Janu Meri Jaan’, from the 1980 classic, Shaan. At this point, I must admit I didn’t quite know what to make of the band. It felt a little bit indulgent, and more like they were playing to the masses, and not to a more discerning audience.

The band seemed tight and the overall sound was fairly good, given the windy conditions and that the location was for all practical purposes, a driveway. Ishaan had broken the top string of his bass guitar at the end of the second song, but to everyone’s bewilderment, nonchalantly proceeded to continue without it.

The next one was a rather crowd-pleasing mash-up medley of ‘Summer of ’69’, ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine’, and ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’. The songs were blended together quite well, but essentially stayed true to the originals. This was followed by another two hindi covers of the songs ‘Dekha Na’ and ‘Jawani Janeman’. So far, I had no complaints about the performance itself, but given the set list, it felt a little like we were watching an Amitabh Bacchan tribute gig.

Things started picking up with the next song, an interesting jazz-like cover of  ‘Dum Maaro Dum’ with a nice drum solo from Agnnelo and a piano solo by Nigel. Things got even more interesting with a reggae mash-up of John Mayer’s ‘Your Body Is A WonderLand’ and Lucky Ali’s ‘O Sanam’, scoring highly on the creativity scale.

The next two songs were covers of ‘Saara Zamaana’ and ‘Aap Jaisa Koi’, both of which had a distinct classic rock feel to them, and were followed by ‘Inteha Ho Gayi’ (yet again featuring the Big B) and was for me the best song so far, with Nigel switching to the saxophone towards the end.

Tossing in another English track, the band did an unusual take on the David Guetta house sensation, ‘Love Is Gone’, before moving back into hindi mode with a cover of the title track of the movie ‘Rock On’ as Mihir went into the crowd and got people to sing along with the chorus.

In response to the crowd’s request for another fast song, Mihir belted out ‘Dance Dance’, probably not my favourite of the evening, but there was a lot of energy in the performance, and some nice guitaring by Sanju. The list concluded with ‘Om Shanti Om’ and a cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke On The Water’.

The performance overall was very entertaining. Agnnelo was solid as ever on drums, Nigel was creative with his keyboard, Ishaan was quite flawless despite playing with only three strings, and Sanju’s guitar riffs were excellent. Mihir was clearly the life of the band and though his vocals were at times a little bit pitchy, more than made up for it with some incredible showmanship and stage presence.

I’ve always found it interesting to see the name of a band qualified with the word ‘Project’. It indicates a certain lack of pretence, a degree of experimentation, and to some extent, an organised approach, all of which, The Bombay Rock Project at first glance seemed to fulfill in fair measure.

The band appears to be well prepared to take on the music scene. Their costumes and logo look to be steps towards creating a solid identity. Their performance looked tight and well rehearsed, and the members appeared relaxed and were enjoying themselves. The musicianship was of excellent quality and had a balanced sound. All in all, they appear to be unabashedly, a hindi cover band, and clearly look to be taking the commercial route by introducing rock music to the masses.

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Thrash Revival: A God’s Lie by Devoid

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Is thrash metal dead? The genre that was most easily the ‘face’ of metal throughout the 80s and the 90s seemed like a lost art in the new century. With the most bankable names in thrash dishing out duds after duds, any metalhead worth his/her salt would say thrash is almost dead. A God’s Lie will change this perception.

The album marks the debut of six-year old Mumbai based thrash/ death metal outfit Devoid and talks about the violence of religion and the futility of it all. The album cover by Shakti Dash sums up the entire mood with illustrations that are startlingly smoky and blue with Goddess Kali in war mode. It’s dark, it’s heavy and it’s definitely not for the weak hearted.

A Silent Death’ makes for a brilliant opening for the album. The acoustic track sounds depressing, even suicidal and will leave you in a complete state of unpreparedness for the skull crushing riffs on the tracks that follow. ‘Battle Cry,’ right from its start of sirens wailing and gunshots to its riffs is reminiscent of the dying moments of Metallica’s ‘One.’

One of the most brilliant tracks on the album with its structuring is ‘New World Order.’ The track has parts of the goose bump inducing speech the character Howard Beale makes in the 1976 movie ‘Network’ about why people should get mad about everything wrong in the world. The title track, that comes in at the very end of the album stands out with its lyrics that slap you in your conformist faces. The other track that carves a niche for itself is ‘Black Fortress,’ a track that incidentally put Devoid into the spotlight in the Indian metal scene. ‘Possessed’ is a pure delight to hear for Shubham Kumar’s drumming. With lightning fast double bass beats, Shubham owns the track.

The bonus track, ‘Beer Song’ is an out-and-out old school thrash track that has ‘fun’ written all over it in capital letters. It’s the kind of track that would set the adrenaline pumping and lead to fractured limbs in moshpits at gigs.  Sanju Aguiar, who did a short stint as the lead guitarist for the band when their original man Keshav Kumar took a hiatus, returns to play on the bonus track, and boy is he fast!

Arun Iyer, with his raspy vocals, completely entices through the 38-odd-minute running duration of the album. Iyer’s crisp riffing provides Keshav ample opportunity to showcase why he is one of the best thrash metal lead guitarists in India. Frank Pawar, Devoid’s bassist, having played in several other bands is very seasoned to say the least, bringing his distinct touch to each track.

A God’s Lie isn’t about atheism; it’s about the flaw in religion that fails to save us from the monster that is politics. The idea is something that connects to Indians instantly and this works for Devoid. Both the band and the album are brutally honest and make no bones about it. The only issue with A God’s Lie is that the tracks lack this certain variation that would make them stand apart from each other.

A God’s Lie is that rare piece of a thrash debut whose copy you would want to preserve. Devoid is an extremely powerful band that shows promise like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Thrashers around the world will agree that the album stands out not only because it’s from a Bollywood obsessed nation but because it’s genuinely world class. I’d rather listen to A God’s Lie than Slayer’s latest World Painted Blood, any day. Enough said!

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