Tag Archives: Slayer

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, they’re great guys!

WTS: So did Metallica influence Nervecell’s 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 we’re 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 90’s 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 can’t 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 wasn’t 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, you’d never find death metal or thrash metal; you’d 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 wasn’t easy.

WTS: So now that there is easier access to underground metal, is there more reception to Nervecell’s 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 didn’t 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) It’s 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 it’s not a problem. What we sing about is really about humanitarian issues and personal issues, nothing extreme lyrically. So we’ve 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. We’d have had some problems playing there but we’ve 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 doesn’t necessarily have to be negative. A lot of it is about reality, it could be about what’s happening around us and it could be about things between close friends or could be about what’s happening in the world in general. We don’t really have topics that pinpoint and they are mostly general. What’s happening in the world does affect us but we don’t really take it to the level where it’s 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 it’s 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 it’s 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 didn’t 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…let’s 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. We’re 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 can’t 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 don’t really play it live. We do the songs that we feel would drag the crowds. It’s a bit of both. We never really sit and plan like this will be cool riff-wise. It doesn’t work like that. But luckily, we’re very fortunate that it works out, it starts to come out naturally. We’re 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. I’ve been listening to experimental bands and I’m a progressive metal fan. Also old bands like Camel and Rush. I listen to these bands all the time. Sometimes I’m in the mood to listen to some brutal, extreme stuff. Of the newer bands I really like The Faceless, they’re a really cool band. I’ve 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 don’t 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. I’ve actually seen quite a few articles on ‘What’s the Scene?’ We’re really looking forward to playing in India soon. It’s been a while since we’ve come back to India and we love the fans there. The crowds interact with us really well, we feel like we’re neighbours and feel connected in a way. All our past experiences in India were great so really looking forward to it!

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Sohan Maheshwar

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


Slayer at Bharatiya City, Bangalore

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Dev Ambardekar

Dev is a music photographer based out of Bangalore. He has been documenting the music scene actively for almost two years during which he has shot several Indian bands and a handful international acts. His expertise ranges from multi-day music festivals to pub shows. While he is not behind the camera, Dev is an Architect and occasional writer. You can follow him at @DevAmbardekar.


Metal Wave at Xtreme Sports Bar, Hyderabad


For all the headbangers in Hyderabad, Metal Wave at Xtreme Sports Bar brought an evening of metal music which made for a perfect Saturday on the 19th of May 2012. Xtreme Sports Bar along with MetamorphiK and Tooth & Nail Productions had the stage set for metal bands from Hyderabad and this time around, there were new bands formed by the coming together of seasoned musicians sharing the platform with one of Hyderabad’s most popular bands and the headliners for the event – Skrypt.

Metal Wave at Xtreme Sports Bar, Hyderabad

Four Clover, a group of experienced musicians, who have played for accomplished bands like Sacred Groove and REALMS, came together with the objective to show that music is something that each and every individual can relate to. With progressive influences from bands like Pagan’s Mind, Pain Of Salvation and Hard Rock influences from bands like Blackstone Cherry and Alter Bridge, Four Clover kicked started the show with the groovy ‘Cochise’ by Audioslave. With Vocals by Ashok, Eddie on the guitars, Praveen on the bass and Rohit on the drums their music has progressive and hard rock elements along with some groovy tones. ‘Linoleum’ by Pain Of Salvation followed next and Ashok got the crowd into the groove. Four Clover gave its own touch to Alter Bridge’s ‘Before Tomorrow Comes’ with a bass intro. The entire band pulled the crowd in with Foo Fighters’ ‘My Hero’. The final was their first composition – ‘Dawn of Day’. The clean vocals, classic guitar tones, crazy bass and drums, and the fact that it was Four Clover’s first major gig made it just the right start for the evening.

Metal Wave at Xtreme Sports Bar, Hyderabad

Perpetual Void formed in February 2012 is a 5-piece thrash death metal band, the line-up of which includes Swaroop (Ex-Cerebral Assassins) on the drums, Roshan (Ex-Cerebral Assassins) and Chaitanya on the guitars, Kenneth on the bass and vocals by Pranav. They opened with ‘F**king Hostile’ originally by Pantera, which is one of the favourite bands of most heads. The rest of the set list included their original ‘Ministry of Death’, Opeth’s ‘Leper Affinity’, Lamb of God’s ‘Walk with Me in Hell’ and concluded with another original ‘Apostasy’. Their compositions were good with heavy riffs and lot of double bass drumming, and growls that reminded me of Underoath.

Metal Wave at Xtreme Sports Bar, Hyderabad

For all the fans of Shock Therapy, Insidious might turn out to be their next favourite since the band was formed by Jay (Shock Therapy), Aniketh (Shock Therapy) and Sumeet (MetamorphiK Productions). With vocals by Rahul(Shock Therapy), Jay and Santhosh (Cadent Slaves)on guitars, Sumeet on bass, and Aniketh on the drums these guys are influenced by bands like Slayer, Testament, Death, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Morbid Angel and Kataklysm. This was Insidious’ debut gig and they played a rather short set with Motorhead’s ‘The Game’, Slayer’s ‘Seasons in the Abyss’ and Kataklysm’s ‘Blood in Heaven’. With unusually deep growls, and influences ranging from heavy metal to death metal, their musical style is a mix of various subgenres.

Metal Wave at Xtreme Sports Bar, Hyderabad

This gig was the first of its kind for Skrypt especially because this time the lineup featured a few guests. Due to an unfortunate accident in which he fractured his forearms, the current lead guitarist, Joel, was unable to play. However, the show did go on with ex-guitarist of the band Ramya back on the lead. The rest of the lineup had Scenic on vocals, Ravi on the guitars, Abbas on the bass, and Rajiv on the drums, coupled with Alan (Pandora’s Box) as a guest guitarist and Ananth (Ex-Negator) as a guest vocalist.

Artifice’ from their EP Discord was their opening piece that was followed by other originals like ‘Constructing the Absolute’, ‘Anathema’ and ‘Supremacy’ also from their EP Discord. Their compositions are mostly thrash metal with elements of progressive and death metal. Their covers included Gojira’s ‘Clone’, Pantera’s ‘Mouth for War’, Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ and, on popular demand, Pantera’s ‘Cowboys from Hell’. While playing ‘Clone’, the band pulled up a guy onto the stage to headbang with them, who later dived back into the crowd. For ‘Mouth of War’, Alan played the guitars and for ‘Raining Blood’ and ‘Cowboys from Hell’, the vocals were handled by both Scenic and Ananth. As always, this was yet another entertaining performance by Skrypt.

Metal Wave at Xtreme Sports Bar, Hyderabad

There were quite a few glitches with the sound especially when Insidious played and a few slips here and there with the other bands. However, that did not stop people from enjoying the concert. The crowd went wild head banging, moshing, and diving from the stage into the crowd. All the four bands kept the enthusiasm of the crowd on a high throughout the concert.

Four Clover’s groovy musical style attracted the crowd, moving on to heavier music by Perpetual Void and Insidious and on to Skrypt – the perfect transition for an evening of metal leaving everyone with high spirits and a stiff neck caused by some extreme head banging!

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Vini Lilian

Vini works with an ad agency. She's a metalhead who can't play metal so she writes about it. She loves tattoos!


Riff ’em All at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore


Riff ’em All was scheduled one day prior to Metallica’s much-looked-forward-to concert in Bangalore and was meant for all the out-of-towners who had descended upon good ol’ Bangalore to see what would hopefully be Metallica’s maiden show in India, and also for some Bangaloreans who were planning to skip the Metallica concert. Riff ’em All held a lot of promise and was all set to showcase some of Bangalore’s best metal bands.

After battling the rains that evening, I walked in right when Culminant had just taken stage (I had unfortunately missed Corrode’s performance). I’ve seen quite a few of their performances this year, and this is one band that has grown stronger with every performance. Starting off with ‘Wrath of the Fallen’ they held everyone’s attention and electrified the stage with their very first song. They played two more OCs – ‘Innate Instinct’ and ‘Realm of the Tyrant’ much to the crowd’s delight. What was supposed to follow was their cover of Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ which didn’t happen because the bass drum’s skin gave way and since there seemed to be no alternative means of going ahead, their set came to an untimely end. The band said their goodbyes, apologized for the short set and left despite people cheering for more.

Riff 'em All at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore

The next band on stage was Gorified, Bangalore’s mainstay goregrinders. They played a longer set this time around, which included two covers. Gorified gave the crowd a good, strong dose of brutality and put on a pretty intense show despite the usual sound problems that plague Kyra, playing seven OCs. The first and the last songs from their setlist, ‘Autopsy Devourment’ and ‘Vulgar Display of Genital Flatulence’ elicited the best response from the crowd. They finally ended their set with two covers – Cannibal Corpse’s ‘Stripped, Raped and Strangled’ and the other surprisingly, Metallica’s ‘Damage Inc.’ this time with former Abandoned Agony drummer Shreyas Kamath on drums. They were the first and probably the only band that night which managed to get the crowd into a violent mosh!

Riff 'em All at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore

The mighty Dying Embrace, one of the oldest bands in Indian Metal, the grand-daddies of the scene so to speak, finally came on stage. This performance was highly awaited and they did not disappoint. The horns thrown high up in the air and frenzied chants of ‘Dying Embrace’ stood testament to this fact. They played quite a great selection of songs, their set had ‘Blood Rites’, the Sabbath inspired ‘As Eternity Fades’, ‘The Passing Away’,  ‘Spawn of the Depths’, ‘Dagda – His Time has Come’, ‘Grotesque Entity’, ‘Oremus Diabolum’ and they ended with their tribute to one of the bands that have inspired them, a cover of Autopsy’s ‘Twisted Mass of Burnt Decay’. Great music apart, the showmanship was brilliant, each song had its own artwork displayed, Deepak’s drumming was impeccable, Jimmy’s solos were met with wild cheering and applause and had the audience hungry for more while Vikram Bhat absolutely owned the stage with his spirited performance. The set finally ended with them stating that their next appearance would be alongside Japanese Black/Thrash band Abigail in 2012’s edition of the Trendslaughter fest. Dying Embrace was most certainly the highlight of that night.

Riff 'em All at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore

Bevar Sea, the penultimate act of the night was up next. The band has only played a handful of shows and yet is popular for its stellar performances and this night was no different. They kicked of their set with ‘The Smiler’ and the riffs and thundering rhythm sections hit the crowd with the force of a sledgehammer. The heavy onslaught continued with them playing ‘Universal Sleeper’ and finally a cover as was the trend that night, Black Sabbath’s ‘Lord of this World’. ‘Abishtu’ was up next and had a majority of the ecstatic crowd screaming along. What followed was a pleasant surprise – Bevar Sea, fresh from their Sabbath tribute in Chennai, decided to play yet another cover – this time it was Sabbath’s ‘The Wizard’. They played one of their original compositions ‘Mono Gnome’ and just when people thought their set had finally ended, they pulled yet another Sabbath number from the hat, ‘Sweet Leaf’. Though the set had a couple of fumbles along the way, it was one of the best that night.

Riff 'em All at The Kyra Theatre, Bangalore

The headliners Kryptos took stage after a slightly lengthy sound check. Decked out in trademark denim and leather, they brought forth their brand of blazing, old school metal. Their setlist for Riff ’em All was slightly different from what they had played throughout this year and it included two songs from their upcoming album The Coils of Apollyon. They started off with ‘Satyr-like Face’ and then played songs from the first two albums including ‘Order of the D.N.A.’ and ‘The Revenant’. ‘The Mask of Anubis’ and for the very first time ‘Spellcraft’ from Coils followed. ‘Tower of Illusions’ and ‘Forgotten Land of Ice’ were up next and the band had a surprise in store for the crowd, not another cover, but ex-member of Kryptos and current vocalist of Bevar Sea, Ganesh joined them on stage for the final song of the night ‘Descension’.

The organizers had arranged a massive merchandise stall which had everything from CDs, t-shirts and posters from a variety of bands, which included bands that were playing that night among others. It also served as a great place for interaction with fans and bands from other cities. All in all, the gig was great, had a responsive crowd with a massive turnout of around 350 people and some brilliant performances – a perfect prelude for the Metallica concert.


Interview with George Kollias


George Kollias is a world renowned and much accomplished drummer from Greece. He is best known as the drummer of the American Death Metal band, Nile. He is also a very sought-after drum teacher and conducts power packed drum clinics all over the world. WTS caught up with him for a tête-à-tête, where he spoke at length about his drumming style and techniques and his inspirations. Read on to find out where India lies in Nile’s and George’s future plans…

WTS: Expression in drumming has to do with dynamics and the idea of ‘playing with feel.’ How do you incorporate this into your drumming style?

George: For death metal, there’s not enough dynamics, you’ve to be very solid and as less dynamic as possible. For other styles of music, of course you need dynamics, you know, it’s a big point of the expression. For example, if you are playing jazz music or folk music, you gotta have lots of dynamics always. For death metal, not so much. It’s a different style, we need more speed and stamina instead of dynamics. And I always try to approach any style I’m playing in the best possible way.

WTS: A lot of drummers want to know why you use one pedal to play blast-beats when there are double bass pedals available.

George: Well, umm, the main reason is, because of some of my favorite drummers when I started playing. Like Pete Sandoval from Morbid Angel, he was doing wonderful blasts. The truth is, where I grew up, in a small town about an hour from Athens, there were no metal drummers. I didn’t actually know two feet blasts, so I had to do one foot blasts. When I learned the easier way, it was too late, because I was too fast already! (laughs)

WTS: We’ve noticed that you use your wrists instead of swiveling the sticks in your fingers when playing quick. Is there any particular reason for approaching speed-drumming this way?

George: Yeah, that’s another reason, you know I was looking upto old school drummers, like Pete Sandoval, Dave Lombardo, Igor Cavalera. I grew up (listening) to these guys, and back in the day everyone was mostly using wrists. So till today, you have these drummers who are using mostly wrists for speed. And its again too late cos, you know, I can go as fast as I can with wrists and there’s no reason to change anything right now. But the main reason again, like the one foot blast, is that I didn’t know the other way! (laughs) I just wanted to play traditional metal.

Interview with George Kollias

WTS: Have you ever drummed using wrong techniques and incurred injuries because of it?

George: Umm, never. I got few injuries here and there because of playing too much or not warming up. You know, we go on tours so much and I have to warm up everyday and somewhere in the middle of the tour it gets a little bit boring, there is no room to warm up. So, I’m like “You know what, let’s go without warming up.” That’s quite wrong for metal. Yeah, so, I’ve had few minor problems here and there and that’s only because I didn’t warm up.

WTS: So, your advice to prevent any such injuries is to warm up before playing?

George: Yeah, these days I’ve a personal doctor and what he suggests, and which I always do, and I don’t have a single problem since, is to stretch. So, he gave me a couple of stretching exercises and everything works so much better, you know. For death metal, you have to warm up and stretch a little bit, and it’s a different kind of music, you know. If I were playing a jazz gig or something, I would never warm up – it’s just different for metal.

WTS: So, do you play at jazz gigs as well?

George: Not gigs, but I practice, I practice a lot. I actually have a trio, but we don’t play so often and we have no plans for shows. It’s for fun and, you know, to develop a better technique, become a better drummer. That’s basically for fun and for myself.

WTS: You’ve learnt from the great Yannis Stavropoulos. What is it that you can share as the crux of your learning? There are a lot of drummers out there who envy your technique and style!

George: We did some rock drumming and we did some jazz drumming. When I started the lessons with Yannis – it was just a year, you know – when I started the lessons, I was already a well-known drummer here and I was fast to play in any band. So, what he basically did was, open my mind to new drumming techniques, new drumming approaches, different styles- jazz drumming or, you know, funk music and also, he helped me so much in how to become a teacher, how to understand what I’m doing and how to explain how I came up with my own exercises and stuff. He was also a huge part of my DVD. We were watching my exercises and he was giving different names (to them), suggesting different things. So, basically, he’s my older brother right now, he’s my mentor. We always hang out, talk drums. Today this is actually what I need. He always helps me out, man, always.

Interview with George Kollias

WTS: About your drum kit – would it be right to say that it’s built for a rather ambidextrous approach?

George: Yeah, yeah, it’s an extreme metal drum kit, a big one. You know what’s interesting – lately I’ve been interested in the smaller drum kits. So, to me when I wanna have fun, I’m usually practicing on my small kit, which is like one tom, one floor tom, right cymbal, high-hat, that’s it. Very very simple. But for metal I’ve to play this big drum set. When you tour, there are too many things to worry about, too many cymbals, we’ve to carry too much of gear all the time. You gonna have atleast two drumsets if you’re going to have some serious practice.

WTS: Can you tell us more about your drumkit?

George: I use three floor toms, that’s two on the right side and one on the left. I use two snares – one 14 inch, my main snare, and one 12 inch snare. Two kicks 22/18. That’s it for drums. It’s all Pearl. I have a Pearl Masters Premium and I’ve my main kit which is Pearl Masterworks, that’s custom made drums. These days I’m expecting my new Pearl Reference Pure. This is the brand new model from Pearl based on the old successful Reference series, but I think the new one is better and more versatile to other styles of music as well. Like I said everything is from Pearl! I play Sabian Cymbals, Evans drumheads, and I play Axis pedals. I also use Extreme headphones and have been playing Vic Firth drumsticks for 22 years or so! (laughs) And right now, right next to me I’ve my new signature drumsticks, which, you know, we’re working on new prototypes at Vic Firth. So, my personal signature drumstick is one the way right now and I think it will be ready in about a month and released. Something, I’m really really proud and really really happy.

WTS: Will you be bringing those to your next show in India?

George: I don’t know if they are gonna be ready, but I got some prototype here. We’ve got 3 different models which I checked and we develop my own signature model, but the stick I was using in the past, and I still use, is the Vic Firth 55A, which, of course, has my signature on. But, I don’t know whether my signature model will be ready by then.

Interview with George Kollias

WTS: While looking at the picture of your drumkit, we see a lot of Sabian AAX and HHX series cymbals. What is it about these series that draws you to them?

George: Well, the AAX are studio cymbals. They’re versatile and you can play any style with these cymbals. So, that was my first approach. The HHX series, they are more smooth and dark, (which I use for) more dynamical purposes. Like I said, I use stuff I would use for other gigs as well. So, my drumkit looks metal, but it’s not only for metal. You can play rock music, you can play, not jazz music, but many different styles on it and this is what I do also. Last two months I did some recording sessions for some really weird different bands, like I played for a punk band, I played for a band – they were progressive like Porcupine Tree stuff. So, all the time I was using (the same cymbals) for more sound options and that’s the reason I don’t use AAX metal crashes, because they’re only for metal. So, my crashes are (the ones on which) you can play different styles. Cymbals are never enough, never enough. You can have 50 cymbals and you will need more, that’s for sure.

WTS: Who among the current crop of extreme metal drummers do you follow and admire?

George: Extreme metal drummers? To be honest, nobody. I kinda lost interest for extreme metal drummers, because we do so much, we talk about this so much – I teach extreme metal class and all these clinics all over the world. So, what I really need is different drummers. Do you understand what I’m saying? I mean there are many great extreme metal drummers – one is Dave Haley from Psycroptic from Australia. I really like Jade Simonetto from Hate Eternal – this guy’s a monster. Romain Goulon from France – these would be my favorite extreme metal drummers. But, what I really need for my playing is to approach different drummers. For example, the last year I practiced a lot with Benny Greb, Chris Coleman. So, these are the drummers I’m watching and and trying to get into the sounds they do, mostly and not so much about extreme metal drummers anymore.

Interview with George Kollias

WTS: You started out playing music at a pretty young age. What got you into music? Was your family into music?

George: No, no, not at all. What happened was I started listening to metal when I was seven. So, it was very natural for me to pick up an instrument a few years later.And what I did was I picked the guitar when I was 10. I still play the guitar, you know, I own three guitars here and I write music all the time. I always wanted to start drumming as well cos, I don’t know, it was cool? I don’t know. I always had the rhythm inside me, I wanted to get involved with drums. But, it was the money issue mostly and I couldn’t get the money to get my first drumkit, which I finally did when I was twelve and from that day I’m just a drummer. The main reason was I wanted to play metal, that’s it. Now there are more, but back in the day I just wanted to play Metallica, Sepultura, Slayer songs, that’s it.

WTS: So, what are your earliest memories of metal?

George: Yeah, it was a guy from Canada. He was a lot older than me and older than my brother. I remember then he had just moved to Greece and, this is a small town, in Korinthos. And, I remember me and my brother were at his home listening to music. He was into metal and we were learning and we were listening to Judas Priest. And we were like, “Oh my God, this is so fucking cool. We gotta follow this style, we gotta listen to this music.” And, next week or so, my brother and I bought AC/DC’s Flick Of The Switch album. That’s pretty much the beginning for me and then Iron Maiden and Metallica and everything.

Interview with George Kollias

WTS: Having handled drumming duties on three albums so far with Nile, what is it about Nile, as a band, that keeps you going with them?

George: When I joined the band, the band was big enough, but not as big as we are today. To me, it was my favorite extreme metal band. So, to start with, I joined the band because it was my favorite band. That’s it. And why we keep going on? Because we fit together, we communicate very easily, we have fun, we are friends. You know, I think it’s the whole package, it’s what we do, we have the chemistry. I think that’s the most important thing. No matter how great a musician you are, if the chemistry is not there, it doesn’t really work and, thankfully, with Nile I found some good chemistry.

WTS: Is Nile recording any new material right now?

George: Right now, we are working on the new Nile album. We will probably get into the studio around November, December or January. That would be my fourth album with Nile.

WTS: From a drummer’s perspective, what is it that you think forms the primary component in Nile’s music? If someone was asked to drum for Nile, what attributes do you think he/she needs to have?

George: Nile is traditional death metal, so you gotta be able to play all these wonderful blasts. You gotta be able to play double bass drumming to a certain level, to a certain beats per minute. You gotta be able to play ‘cruiser’ extreme metal beats, you know. For example, no matter how fast are your beats, you gotta be able to keep it going, so you gotta have great stamina. There are so many fills, there are so many odd signature meters, you know. In ‘What Can Be Safely Written’, there’s a time signature that’s very weird, like a 30/16 on a breakdown and what I do is I follow the 30/16 and I break it down to groups of 3s. So, there are some rhythmic illusions going on in Nile’s music. So, in a few words, you gotta be able to play fast, you gotta have a good technique. Some drummers are faster, some are more creative, it depends. Nile has a little bit of everything. This why I really like the music.

WTS: Any plans for Nile to come to this part of the world?

George: We already tried three times to get to India and we failed three times. Right now, I’ve managed to come there myself. Everybody in the band is really happy atleast I made it. We actually agreed for a short tour very soon, that would be definitely within the next year – to come and do Singapore and all together, and maybe we will be able to come to India as well. Because, the last time we weren’t able to come to India was because the cost was too much for the band to fly to India – they were asking about $30000, you know. So, that’s too much money, but if we are touring in Singapore – very close to India – then it will cost us 1/3rd the amount to come to India and we can make it, and we will make it. We really want to get there. We have so many fans in India, we get so many mails. You know, this is something we talk about so many times. So, in a way, I’m happy it is happening, in a way atleast, with this drum clinic.

WTS: You started teaching drumming quite early – how has this worked in tandem with touring and gigging?

George: Well, I started teaching drums way before I joined the band. And then I joined Modern Music School and, now I’m drum instructor in Modern Music School in Athens – actually, worldwide, because our school is pretty big, we have like 70-something schools worldwide. So, sometimes we teach in different places. Last week I was in Germany teaching for the professional program of our school. It’s pretty tough with always touring and sometimes my students have to wait. But there is another way, they are lucky to have a touring drummer as a teacher instead of just having a teacher. Because, I tour different parts of the world and I can advise in different aspects and I think they like it even though it’s hard on everybody.

Interview with George Kollias

WTS: We see that you’re actively driving learning in metal drumming – what prompted you to make the instructional DVD Intense Metal Drumming?

George: The only reason I did was because of my love for music and for drummers. I wanted to share what I have and this is what I was doing online with my forum, this is what I was doing when I met fans – always talk drums, always share what I have. So, I wanted to be little more professional and little more serious, and release a DVD, which I did, and which, thankfully, went very well. And, right now, actually, I’m getting ready to shoot the new DVD to be out in January 2012.

WTS: Any other activities or ventures that your fans normally don’t know about?

George: These days I’m really busy. I did 4 albums for different bands. Actually, most of them were guest albums, like one song or three songs or whatever. I’ll be doing the new Cerebrum album – it’s a band from Greece, very technical metal. I’m working on the Nile songs and working on my solo project, which I think will be released early next year as well.

WTS: Give us some info about your solo project.

George: I got eight songs so far, everything is metal, black metal, it’s groovy in a way, it’s pretty fast as well. The music is almost ready. I’m working on the lyrics when I’ve the time. I don’t know when I’ll be able to record, but the sure thing is Eric Rutan from Hate Eternal wants to do the mix. So, Eric’s gonna be a big part of this CD. And, I’m gonna have many other guests – guitar players to play the solos. Everything is gonna be me, I’m gonna sing, I’m gonna play everything, I’m gonna write everything, except the guitar solo which I’m gonna leave to some guest guitarists.

WTS: Is this your first trip to India?

George: Yes.

WTS: Do you have any idea about the metal scene here in India?

George: I do have an idea because we have many fans there and I heard about a crazy crowd, the huge metal scene, and I’m very excited and I can’t wait to come there and play for you guys. I think it’s going to be a great clinic.

Interview with George Kollias

WTS: Give us a bit of info on the drum clinics you do. What can we expect in the drum clinic?

George: Well, I’m gonna be playing Nile songs for sure. It will be kinda like a show. I’ll present a few Nile songs, maybe a new song, let’s see. I’m gonna play some of my songs, maybe a few solos -depends on the time we have and the feedback we have from the crowd. And, of course, I’m gonna share some exercises and tips for the drummers. And, the main thing – and this is actually why we do the clinics – is for the drummers and fans to be able to communicate, come see and talk to you. In general, we’re gonna have a great great time.

WTS: What would be your advice to young budding drummers – the most important message you would like to give?

George: Get a teacher and get serious. That’s it. It is simple because most of the metal drummers are lazy, nobody is going for a teacher. I see with my students. When I was on my forum online everyone was like “Oh I wanna study with George, I wanna study with George.” And when I launch my online lessons I’ve only 20 people. So, yeah, I would like to see serious drummers. No matter where you are, there is always a great teacher. You gotta go there, you gotta pay him, of course. Because, you know, he will spend his time for you. If you wanna do it, do it the right way – find a teacher, open your mind to different styles of music, you know, be a drummer in general – not just blast beats, you know. That would be my message.

WTS: Anything else you would like to say?

George: Well, just looking forward to getting to India. I’m really excited. I’ve talked with many people, I get so many emails. So, I think it’s going to be a crazy day there. I’m really excited to see your beautiful country, and I’m really really looking forward to come there. I’ll be here this time for just one and a half days because there are many clinics before and after the one in India. I wish I had more days, but, unfortunately, I’ve to stay for one and a half days only. But, you know, it’s enough for me. I just wanna say to everyone, try and come for the clinics, meet me there, let’s have some fun, let’s talk all things drums. I’ll do my best to deliver one of the best shows you ever saw.


Control Alt Delete – Chapter II at B69 Bajaao, Mumbai





B69 Bajaao was at its best again on the 23rd of April, when it hosted the second edition of the alternative rock fest, Ctrl Alt Delete, presented by Sidestand. Looking at it from a rock enthusiast’s point of view, this gig had something special for everyone, with the lineup of bands playing Punk rock, Punk metal, Hardcore, Alternative metal and some Jazz Funk.

The motive behind the gig was, and I quote, “We aim to slowly but steadily build a fan base for the Alternative bands all across India and to help the scene grow as a collective.” And with gigs like these, I’m sure that this aim will be achieved very soon.

The entry charge, like with the hugely popular first edition, was a liberal “Pay what you think the lineup deserves,” which apart from being a great way of trapping the fan into a guilt trip, is quite revolutionary. The recently launched EP by The Lightyears Explode was also being given away for free to anyone who entered. A great way to start off the evening, since nothing makes a fan happier than a free CD before a gig.

The gig basically had two parts to it, the amateur 1st half and the highly acclaimed 2nd half. To start off this alternative massacre, relatively new band Artificial Red padded up. The band played a short set and sounded sort of like a punk band with progressive influences. Himanshu on the bass looked quite ecstatic, and it was fun to watch him play along with the Thane drummer boy Varoon.

When the next band hopped on stage, people clearly had a look of bewildered amusement on their faces, as the band members showed up wearing gowns, and posted a hand-written sign in front that read ‘Power To Aunties.’

Forcefield/Power Aunties, (I’m not really sure what to call them) were playing for the second time at B69, and showed much improvement over this time round. Better sound, more variety in their music and of course their creative dressing helped them score some points early on. Their set had elements of heavy punk and alternative, as they mostly did covers, one with the Riot Peddlers vocalist. With these guys on stage one didn’t realize where the 20 odd minutes went. Entertaining stuff is what I’d say. Shawn on the bass was really in the groove, with Varoon on the drums, killing it once again.

If two punk rock bands weren’t enough, the third one wasn’t very different either, and I’d broadly classify them as Punk Metal. The Riot Peddlers failed to create much riot, and the audience had had enough punk rock. However, their unusual style with a few satirical songs and a few making fun of mainstream Bollywood, gave the fans something engaging. The Riot Peddlers had the energy on stage alright, but overall failed to connect with the audience this time. The drummer Ashwin was really tight with his set, with hard hitting beats reminding me of Keith Moon. The vocals somehow seemed a bit off genre though. The vocal style seemed like a copy of Tom Araya from Slayer, which didn’t go well with the hardcore/punk metal feel of the band. However, for anyone who’d just entered the venue, they probably would have enjoyed the set.

I felt that the organizers could have picked a set of bands which were a little more diverse in terms of their sound. Things had started getting a little bit monotonous, leading people to hang around outside waiting for the better bands to hit the stage.

The next band to play was The Lightyears Explode. Once again a punk rock band, but slightly more experienced. Probably one of the best upcoming bands with a rapidly growing fan base, The Lightyears Explode played a tight set and completely lived up to the expectation surrounding them. Their set included a few songs from their EP as well as a new one, which was well received by the audience. Their energy on stage was unmatched and really revved up the atmosphere inside.

After this, things were about to get even better, as Zero was setting up their equipment. It was their first time at B69 and they seemed to be quite happy to be playing there. Zero produced the same charm as always during their set, with all their songs drawing the crowd in to sing along. They played a number of their popular tracks like ‘Not My Kind of Girl’, ‘Christmas in July’ and their huge hit ‘PSP 12′, and were able to get the best sound of the lot. They successfully shattered the monotony and gave the crowd plenty to cheer about. It was truly a treat watching them play at such close proximity. This is one aspect of B69 that I’ve always loved, as it brings the music, musicians and fans closer together. A place like this was desperately needed since a long time, and finally there’s one that’s here to stay.

Split, the giants of Bombay’s alternative rock/metal scene were up next, and I believe that these guys have probably never had a bad gig. Their presence on stage is dominating and controlling and I mean that in a good way, with their immaculate sound leading to crazy mosh pits and people chugging their beer even faster. ‘60 Seconds’, and ‘Holy Ghost Machine Gun’ were the two tracks appreciated most by the audience. Garreth truly justifies the sound of the band and makes good use of it. Varoon was again giving it his best on the drums as Aviv and Melroy played some great melodies and solos, backed up well by some smacking bass lines by Shekar.

For the next band, called Sridhar/Thayil, their young looking female vocalist Suman Sridhar got up on stage. Her voice was tremendous and resembled that of Duffy with her high pitched vibratos. The whole sound of the band was highly diverse and could possibly be categorized as Funk Jazz. Viru, the actual drummer of the band was unable to be present that day and a replacement was brought in, who did a fantastic job as well.

The band jammed on stage creating a distinctly trip hop ambience. The guitarist Jeet Thayil blended in nicely with his effects and smooth, flowing solos with absolutely bizarre funk lines on the bass. The one thing that I admired about the band was that the vocalist was able to keep the rhythm even when the drummer was playing odd time signatures, while the bassist following the drummer was playing some chromatics and the guitarist was busy adding effects or playing solos. I belive that vocalist Suman Sridhar is gifted when it comes to musical understanding.

To wrap it up, the whole evening was great, with over 150 people showing up, some amazing bands playing and all of them getting the best sound that B69 could churn out. We certainly hope there’s going to be a third edition of the Ctrl Alt Del series!


Interview with Fractalline


Fractalline is a 4-piece death metal band from LA with KP Krishnamoorthy on guitars, Jordan Nalley on vocals, Ray Rojo on drums and Sandesh Nagaraj on bass. WTS caught up with the band members after their recent show in Bangalore, where they spoke about their ‘Indianfestation’ tour , the Indian metal scene and their story so far…

WTS: How has your Indianfestation tour been so far?

KP: This tour was originally supposed to span six cities but there were a few changes in the plan. Nobody is going to turn up for anything when there’s a cricket match happening. So we are playing at four cities now. We’ve had a very good response from the cities where we’ve played so far – that’s Mumbai, Manipal and Bangalore and we will be playing in Delhi tomorrow, and we’ll fly back to LA the day after.

WTS: Tell us more about the shows you’ve done as part of this tour so far.

Jordan: Tonight was pretty amazing, but considering it (Bangalore) was their home town, I kinda expected it to be this way. But for Manipal, it was kinda last second, didn’t know what’s gonna happen, never heard of the place. We went out there, just knowing that we will be playing for a college crowd and that’s about it. I think nearly 300 people were there.

KP: Yeah. they sold more than 300 tickets before the show and had walk-ins as well.

Jordan: But there was no sound guy, I had to do sound for seven bands last night! (laughs) So I went early and did the sound for all the bands, on a piece-of-crap system. It was an old analog and everyone cranked all the way up and still everything was fed back and nothing was loud enough. It was a fun night though!

WTS: From Myndsnare to Fractalline, how has the sound evolved?

KP: There is some change that can be attributed to me wanting to try and get a heavier sound. I’m using an 8-string guitar now as compared to standard 6-string that I used earlier. That has definitely changed the tone. This has allowed Sandy to do a whole bunch of different stuff on the bass guitar.

WTS: How did you guys get to know each other at MI (Musicians Institute)?

Ray: KP was looking to form a heavier band and was looking for members. Sandy wanted to keep playing with him. Yasmin, the drummer of Myndsnare, heard me play some stuff and gave my number to KP and we got together, practiced and it went well. We had a vocalist before Jordan and that thing didn’t work out, Jordan heard us play in school and liked it. So, he came down to our practice and from there it’s been pretty good.

WTS: So the formation of the band can pretty much be attributed to MI?

KP: I wouldn’t probably give it that much credit, but yeah, if it was not for that then we wouldn’t have the band.

Jordan: It’s a great place to meet people. The biggest plus about MI is, you take the time to meet the people within this school and you’ll find people with similar interests and people with similar goals. We pretty much found each other that way. Actually we don’t have similar tastes in music. We write the same music that we enjoy – what’s coming out of it, all of us equally.

WTS: You’ve mentioned some of your influences as Death, Slayer and All Shall Perish. How do guy work it out, with such different tastes in music?

KP: Well, we don’t really look at our influences at all, we just make music based on what we feel like playing and that’s it. We don’t try to sound like a like a certain band or anything of that sort. In Fractalline, the portions of creativity that apply to the band fit in perfectly with the rest of the guys and what they want. So when I come up with the riffs, these guys like it. When he comes up the vocals parts and lyrics, we like it. The drums part, I think, is totally f**king awesome, without the stuff he plays we really wouldn’t sound like the way we do. The same goes to Sandy as well. I think in this band there has no specific instrument or person or musician taking the forefront because all of us contribute equally.

Jordan: Yea, the songs just happen. We don’t like to aim for certain genre or bands.

KP: Yeah, we seem to be actually letting the songs tell us what do they want us to sound like than making the sound come out of us and that seems to be working out for us.

WTS: A few weeks back you released your EP Infinite Entropy. How has the response been back in LA and India?

KP: The response in LA was not as big as in India, because we don’t have a presence over there like we had with Myndsnare. But we have been playing for people who loved the music and have picked up our CDs. We are going to be taking back some T-Shirts as well which we’ll be selling there. A lot of people have been buying our CDs over here. I think there’s not too much of a difference between the audience over there and the audience over here, and the amount of money they are willing to spend on a CD. It’s pretty much the same.

WTS: You guys have been working on a concept album. How has the progress been with that so far and when do you expect to complete it?

KP: Well, Jordan is working on all the concepts for the songs, he has a clear idea of what each song is supposed to be about. We will be writing music and it seems to be like, every three weeks to a month we’ve got enough material for a new song while working on it. We also have a lot of school work and other stuff to do. So it’s not fast as you know getting a band in studio and writing an album but I think this way there is certain organic progress to the way music is coming out of us, we will have time to shift a little bit between songs before we end up with five or six songs for lineup in a week. We should have a full length before the end of this year.

WTS: Are you planning a comeback with Myndsnare anytime soon?

KP: Myndsnare is pretty much over. Probably no tours either. We frankly think it doesn’t make much sense to play again because we don’t have any new songs after the earlier album release. We play the songs for people who haven’t seen us live, but I doubt if it’s going to get enough ‘going’ in it to get approved or so. Sorry about that! (smiles)

Jordan: We will always figure ways to get back here with Fractalline. It’s been amazing, eye-opening, crazy! I also wanted to say that with the Indianfestation tour, all the bands we’ve played with have been amazing. I mean I haven’t really heard Indian metal before apart from Myndsnare and Extinct Reflections. Hearing about bands like Bhayanak Maut, Eccentric Pendulum and the time that they have already spent in the scene here. With the kind of online promotion and TV promotion that we have in the States, these Indian bands would definitely be doing really well. Even for the level that they are at here, still playing small venues and not having a worldwide name, they definitely equal the bands over there in the States. So that way, the bands that are out here are way better than the bands that play within the States. So playing with bands like that is really an honor and awesome to see. I’m thankful to them, they are all awesome.

WTS: Sandy and KP, you guys have seen bands like Dying Embrace, Myndsnare, Extinct Reflections and Kryptos emerge in the past and also the bands that are emerging now. How do you think the Indian metal scene has changed over the past 15 years?

KP: In the past 15 odd years, the internet has really doubled and social networking has started making a difference in the way bands promote their shows. Also, the internet has caused a bifurcation of people – those who bitch about everything all the time online and those who have been really supportive of music and buying CDs and things like that. I think the internet is the only real difference that happened in the music scene, everything else is a byproduct. Any scene would do good if it had money. Nowadays, you actually come across some guys and venues understanding what a metal band is. Like Kyra isn’t going to ask “When is the orchestra going to come?” you know? You don’t need to deal with rubbish like that anymore. It’s more like a mindset thing and now people are actually starting to understand what a pop or rock band is.

WTS: Has the musicianship changed over the years?

KP: Yeah! Very much. If I was playing how I was playing with Threinody and all now, people will be laughing me off. Now you can’t play a few power chords and a shitty cover of ‘Raining Blood‘.

WTS: How has the crowd changed? Are they more receptive to originals now?

KP: Definitely. Earlier you expected every band to play two or three covers to check out what the band is capable of and then you will listen to original music. Nowadays people don’t give a damn about covers especially in Bombay, Bangalore and Delhi and cities like that.

WTS: Where do you see the Indian metal scene going five years from now?

KP: Into smaller towns, to more cities and people. Kryptos is doing a really cool thing. They are planning a 35-city tour in India!

Jordan: That way it opens up possibilities for other bands to do the same thing and other cities to start expecting stuff like that.

KP: This is exactly how tours are done in US and it works .That’s the only way you can earn money in the US as a touring band. Over here, we are spending so much money flying between cities and doing all that kinda stuff that you can’t really afford to make living out of something like that. But if there are enough small crowds of about 100 to 300 in the cities for a band and you rent a bus and do that kinda stuff, its gonna be way easier. Renting a bus and a driver is not that expensive. So if you put that aside and see the profits you can make from merch sales and how much the venues will pay you for the shows , it’s actually going to be something feasible. If Kryptos and the other bands follow suit, it will open up our reach to smaller towns; they’ll really understand what this is about and start getting into it.

WTS: Do you think we’ll ever be as big as the metal scene in Europe in terms of number of releases? 

Jordan: The kids out here who have come to our clinics, (which were a part of our tours, hosted at Furtados), have been so passionate. With them writing lyrics and music, and knowing how the people they look up to play and write music… as long as they keep coming out of India, we definitely have high hopes in the Indian metal scene. The shows here have been amazing! LA is so talked up and over exaggerated, the only bands for which you see better crowds than what we have, are Slayer or other international bands. Other than that you have just a bunch of people sitting around and staring at you. The crowd here really loves their music.

KP: I think there are two sides to it. Over here, (Bangalore) a lot of people come to see us because of Myndsnare. In Delhi they don’t know us. So the kind of crowds we play to are not the same. While one side is factually and perfectly true, you can’t really hope to claim crowds like this unless we put in the hard work and pay up dues to build up a following.

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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


Thrash Revival: A God’s Lie by Devoid


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!


The Mighty Riff at Alliance Francaise, Bangalore





Recently, there’s been a lot of DIY-ism when it comes to metal gigs in Bangalore. The Mighty Riff was one such gig, organized by the musicians themselves, with a very spacious hall at the Alliance Francaise de Bangalore being used as the venue and an entry fee of just Rs 99. The bill consisted of CulminantBevar SeaInner Sanctum and Pillbox 666.

The venue seemed great. First impressions are often the last ones and we got a great impression of how loud and strong the sound could be, when Culminant started off. They started with one of their OC’s, covered Slayer’s ‘Raining Blood’ and followed it up with two more originals. The volume given to Bharad’s vocals seemed a bit low but the other instruments seemed perfect in the mix. Next up, they were covering Death’s ‘Misanthrope’ which was going perfectly until a technical glitch stopped them in between. Another attempt at the song, and the same result. They went on to perform another original and a third attempt at ‘Misanthrope’ resulted in the same glitch, which is where they decided to end their set. However, despite the technical issues they had made their mark and it was already a great start to the fest.

Bevar Sea, due to performing in a bigger venue, seemed less bassy this time and they were as good as they’ve always have been, if not better. Their set list consisted entirely of originals, which was great because they already have some very formidable compositions. Their set was lengthy, but had a flow of its own. They started with their often-used opener ‘The Smiler’ , followed by the Bangalore debut of their new song ‘Sleeping Pool’ , which managed to bring in loads of doom, especially in the last few minutes of the song. It was followed by the very catchy ‘Abhishtu’ , the upbeat ‘Universal Sleeper’ and the heavy set crawled to it’s finish with ‘Mono-gnome’ . Their sound always seems impeccable. Finding flaws in their set is like finding a needle in a haystack, and it was the same case in this gig as well. Another noticeable part was the crowd joining in on ‘Abhishtu’ something very rare in the Indian metal scene.

Inner Sanctum was the next much-awaited act, evident by the surge of crowd before their set, and the drop in numbers afterwards. Before the band got on stage, the artwork was on display, which was very impressive, to say the least. Shortly afterwards, the band took control of the scene, every song being as hard hitting as the previous one, with the sound seeming just right. Inner Sanctum has developed a dedicated following among the younger metalheads in namma Bengaluru, the mosh-happy kids expecting a mosh-worthy performance every time these guys play. This gig was no different, they delivered and how! The limited space in the hall was well exploited, with the crowd going berserk over their set list. The last track intensified their act with a Wall of Death which, though miniature, saw a good number of arms flinging around, kids thrown around. Now isn’t that just sweet? As it turned out, this was to be Rajeev the guitarist’s last gig, as frontman Gaurav Basu informed us that he’d be leaving the country for higher studies. This of course came with serious objections from the crowd, flipping the finger at the mention of ‘studies’. Rajeev was pulled off the stage for a crowd-surf by the fans (again a first, for any gig here!). A final group hug by all the members of the band and they were off! 

With covers of their “Gods” done “as they should be”, Bangalore’s new supergroup Pillbox 666 was the last band to take the stage. Their set list remained the same as their debut gig, but with an addition of Metallica’s ‘Whiplash’ Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ was also included, which had been skipped at their previous gig due to a broken guitar string. They started off with Black Sabbath’s ‘Black Sabbath’ followed by Slayer’s ‘Black Magic’, Black Sabbath’s ‘Electric Funeral’, Metallica’s ‘Whiplash’, Candlemass’ ‘Dark Reflections’, Autopsy’s ‘Ridden with Disease’, Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ and Motorhead’s ‘Overkill’, each cover ranging from great to magnificent. The guitar tone had that old-school raw edge and the bass was extremely prominent. The growling by Vikram Bhat provided chills, especially on songs like ‘Black Sabbath’, and ‘War Pigs’, and the drumming was absolutely perfect (Mr Raghu hasn’t disappointed us with any of his other projects, has he?). And it wasn’t just the tight covers. Pillbox 666 are an amazing live act, with Vikram Bhat clearly at the helm of affairs. Ganesh was on the vocals for ‘Whiplash’, (surprise!), the song itself a reminder of how Metallica was the band we all loved! Sigh. The TSF/UG crew (you know who you are!) deserve a special mention here, their controlled recklessness having fueled many a gig here in Bangalore before, and Pillbox 666′s set had them at full strength.

Apart from the live music, the fest did great with merchandise. All the four bands came out with t-shirts. At least four such poster designs could be seen for the fest, all of them with great artwork, two of which were put up for sale before the fest. CDs were also on sale at the merchandise stall and it’s always great to have something like that at a metal fest.

A great turnout despite the rains had proved that the metalheads inBangaloreare always up for a good gig, come rain, come shine. As we walked out of the venue with our necks aching and our ears still ringing from the onslaught, the only question on everyone’s mind was, “So, when’s the next one?”