Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Deccan Rock Festival Featurng Amon Amarth and Textures

'What the fuck' were the exact three words that came out of my mouth when i read in Nov issue of Rolling Stones that Amon Amarth and Textures were coming down to Bangalore somewhere during Nov. Now I had every reason to dismiss the piece of article as shit after the GnR fiasco, but then I agreed with it 'cos the word about Textures playing in Bangalore had been floating in air for quite a long time(from August, in fact).That they didn't play in Nov is a different thing, but then they DID play on Dec 5th which was one of the most ultra-epic event that the Indian metal scene ever witnessed. Cheapest too! After all watching these two bands for 450 bucks is a bargain that no one even dreams about.

Nevertheless, I reached the venue - a good hour before the opening of the gates(1.30 PM being the scheduled time for the opening), hoping to catch the thrill in the air right from the beginning. 'What the fuck' were the exact three words I blurted out once again when I reached the place, for going through a state of shock on seeing the arrangements of the venue. A marriage hall with bright decorations overshadowing the posters and banner of Deccan Rock Festival was something I never even expected in my worst nightmare about a concert of such great magnitude. My anticipation of seeing droves of crowds gathered near the venue were quashed too when all I noted was hundred odd bunch of people around the ticketing counter. Surely more metalheads would have turned up had the publicity campaign of the event been pursued with more vigor. Maiden's first concert saw anxious fans sleeping in Palace Grounds much before the opening. Not to mention thousands of them crowding the ticketing counter from noon itself. Even though the organizers - Orka Networks and Live Gig did bad on the publicity side, they scored some major hits on the sound console which sounded more than perfect that evening with soundman supreme Anupam Roy at the console.

Eccentric Pendulum, prog metal band from Bangalore kickstarted the show with tracks from from their EP- Sculptor of Negative Emotions with such exuberance that they clearly proved their worth of sharing the stage with the big guys. The little crowd that had gathered up got a bigger shot in the head when Inner Sanctum took to the stage next, ripped the place apart with their fiery brand of death/thrash music as Gaurav growled like a psychotic on loose while Chintan literally masturbated the fretboard with his display of awesome fret skills!. Although a point of mention added here would be that the 'moshpit' in there had a greater resemblance to a dance pit instead(blame it on the large quantity of weed that the crowd smoked up that day, as though in 'accordance' with the event's theme of fight against global warming), with pathetic posers jumping to such songs instead of headbanging like a nutter which should've been the usual case. Such would not have been the case had the tickets not been priced so low at Rs.450.

Nonetheless the show moved on and Undying Inc came on stage next, who were by far the best Indian act of that evening. It was the first time I had seen them live and by God I swear they instantly blew my ears to smithereens with their music that is hellish in every aspect. Vocals were screamed by Shashank at such incredible voice that Textures' member were actually stunned at his performance! Not to mention they were equally taken aback by the near-perfection handling of instruments by Undying member. So much were they impressed that Yuvi(Undying drummer) landed himself cymbal from Stef Brok's own kit! Bhayanak Maut were next and regardless to say the crowd went berserk over their rendition of deathcore music that comprised of tracks mainly from their new album that included Ungentle and Blasted Beyond Belief. In fact the first actual moshpit of the evening started to BM's setlist.

Things didn't go smoothly for the last two Indian acts - Kryptos and Demonic Resurrection. Nolan Lewis, Kryptos frontman attempted an audacious act of wearing Liverpool scarf on stage which got half the crowd pissed off! A good deal of anti-Liverpool abuses were hurled at him. As if pissing the crowd off wasn't enough for them, then oddly the band sounded off-tune once they started their set. However they squared off well in the end by playing the final track Descension with absolute integrity. Last supporting act was DR who are one of my least fav band. It was the first time I witnessed them live too, and needless to say left a bad taste in my mouth after their act. Apocalyptic Dawn, Unrelenting Surge of Vengeance were among the few tracks they played and I oddly felt the keyboards were out of the place with Sahil's really bland vocals. By the time DR ended I at least expected to see the venue being jam packed but then didn't happen. By the time Textures took on state, the crowd haplessly numbered around 1000 which is significantly less for such concert.

But then I had better things to think about and I thanked god when DR ended their set after 3 tracks 'cause Textures were up next and boy! i couldn't wait any longer. Like true professionals, they took less than 20 minutes to do their soundcheck and right away started their set with the track One Eye For A Thousand. Swandive and Storm Warnings were next, with the band's take on the latter being impeccable.Awake was one track to which a good part of the crowd sang along too. Awake was preceded by Between Stream of Consciousness and The Sun's Architect. An improvised version of Laments of Icarus followed by final track Regenesis ended their setlist, which was enjoyable to every single moment they lasted on stage. And it was not just the crowd who enjoyed the performance, but the band members too enjoyed every bit of the response they received from us. Erik was powerful at the vocals, doing his clean vocals as good as the growls. Bassist Remko Tielemans seemed a bit more charged up than the rest as he jovially bounced on the stage. Stef Brok's polyrhythmic drumming with adept dexterity was unfortunately not visible to me clearly as for some weird reason the drum kits of all bands including Textures were placed in the corner most position of the stage with the sole exclusion being that of drum kit of Amarth kept at the centre.

Finally the moment of the day had arrived though pretty late at around 9.30, and Amon Amarth took to stage after quite a long sound check. With the mere sight of them on stage, adrenalin rush increased in my body pumping me up for the excitement that awaited once they started playing. With Twilight of The Thunder God, they couldn't have chosen a better track to open their performance. The crowd was gripped by a bout of headbanging, even though they seemed(including myself) tired after headbanging to Textures. An Amarth flag flew high all through this with a sense of pride up the holder's sleeve. Johan Hegg's incredible growls left me awestruck, leaving my spines chilled to the bones. Free Will Sacrifice and Asator came next. By then I was headbanging like an absolute psychopath in a drunken state just like how the Vikings would have done. Runes to My Memory and Guardians of Asgaard followed up next. Metal is the only way to live life, added Hegg before dropping the A bomb on the crowd with Live For The Kill. And then he dropped the H bomb by going full throttle with Death In Fire, which sadly happened to be their last track of the night. Hegg seemed stunned when the crowd sang the pre-song build up perfectly. When he added the show was over, I was hoping it would be some sort of gimmick of the usual kind which a band pulls to get an encore to play rest of the tracks. In this case I was clearly rooting for Pursuits of Vikings and Cry of Blackbirds after this stage enactment. But alas! That wasn't the case as B'lore's fucking cops always have the last laugh while killing our joys in such concert and Amarth members promptly exited the stage. The band members nonetheless kept the crowd happy by throwing all their plectrum, drum sticks and even beer cans!

In the end though I was pretty contented at having attended the concert, I was quite miffed at the organizers for shocking conditions of the overall event. It wasn't actually required to gather so many Indian acts for supporting, as everyone is clearly aware how long they would take to finish up their set, leading to delay of the headlining acts performance. And had they been more aware of Bangalore's infamous nightlife ban rules, Amon Amarth and Textures would've started earlier in the night and maybe played an extra half an hour each. Food and Beverages were overpriced inside too, with a pint of KF beer being sold at 100 fucking bucks! However in the end though everything wasn't picture perfect, I walked out of the venue satisfied thinking back about the epic time I spent in there witnessing Amon Amarth and Textures and wondering which big band will they get next

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hypocrisy - A Taste Of Extreme Divinity

Pete Tagtren is one hell of an all rounder. The dude has played some absolute devastating death metal music with Hypocrisy and Bloodbath. And if that doesn't stand as an ode to his talents, then he's also the guy behind legendary Abyss Studios, where numerous big extreme metal acts such as Immortal, Dark Funeral and Celtic Frost to name a few have produced their albums with brilliant sound quality. And now after a 4 years hiatus, Tagtren has set the wheels in motion for Hypocrisy again with their eleventh album A Taste Of Extreme Divinity(produced at Abyss of course). And needless to say Hypocrisy hasn't lost any steam over the years and picks right up from where Virus left off.

The songs vary from fast blastbeat driven to mid tempo ones with amazing riffs catching your riffs right from the very first seconds of Valley of Damned. The songs on the albums are far away from the radio friendly melo death metal of the Arrival era and really aggressive without loosing a sense of melody. Hypocrisy are a very musical band and instead of making a any attempts at technical aspects of their music, they are very much implied about their song's harmonious nature and unlike the rest they don't rub it into your face. The content in the album is balanced perfectly, pitching intense against calm and atmospheric against chaotic nature. Like the title tack which has a very doomy start to it before the extreme blastbeats take hold of the song's mood.

If the blastbeats in the album reminds you of black metal, then don't be mistaken as the band's drummer Horgh after plays for Immortal too. And even after all these years, Tagtren's growls still manages to leave your spine chilled when you hear them, as they are still ear-piercing and monstrous in nature. High pitched too! And thats maybe to stay in touch with his alien theme. Some of the best tracks of the album are Quest and Tamed(Filled With Fear) where the former has a more groove to it whereas the latter is more in molds of melodic thrash. Sy Is Falling Down is another outstanding track with some sick guitar pickings.

Even though Hypocrisy are not as inexorable as they sounded before, their output has remained strong no matter what. With an excellent sound production and classic Hypocrisy lyrical theme of aliens and violence, there's not a single thing to point your finger out to this album. And needless to say, A Taste Of Extreme Divinity is one of the band's best releases with solid edge quality. Now so that you dont have to wait for another 5 years to wait for the next Hypocrisy album, check this one out - Taste of Extreme Divinity.

Nile - Those Whom The Gods Detest

Its been two years, since I last heard some original paralyzingly shitty Egyptian mumbo jumbo with some amazingly good brutal tech death metal. So I asked God give me more, and then bang in middle of November arrives Nile's album Those Whom The Gods Detest, where their vague obsession with Egyptian mythology continues with some astounding piece of death metal supremacy that makes me indulge in a flurry of neanderthal activities of chest thumping, jumping against the wall(you cant mosh by yourself all alone, can you?) and of course headbanging! Dont understand what I mean, then listen to the track 'Hittite Dung Incantations' and drool over how the chants of egyptian bullshit gives way to some absolute cruncher of riffs and beats the shit out of your sense!

Nile are one of the very few bands who have been able to combine brutality with technicality with a touch of natural flair. So much so, that not even once while listening to them, you feel that they consciously tell themselves to make their songs 'harder-faster-louder', its more like an underlying omnipresent compulsion for them to do so. And that's what you experience when you listen to their new album, though not in every single tracks. What makes Those Whom The Gods Detest standout from their earlier releases is the presence of tracks with slower than expected tempos like 4th Arra Of Dagon. Also the presence of more traditional Egyptian instruments makes the album more astute than ever.

Tracks like Permitting The Noble Dead To Ascend To The Underworld and Utterances of Crawling Dead ensure that they continue to maintain their stupefying spectacle of displaying their unrivaled death metal fireworks. And the brilliant sound production does absolute justice to such tracks. While Sanders and Toller Wade persist in belting out complex riffs after riffs at jaw-dropping tempo, Kollias ceaselessly plays the drums with precision matched to none. However not all's perfect in the album. Even though Sanders and Co play the the kind of music you expect Nile to play after listening to them over the years, somewhere in the album you do feel that parts of songs are reminiscent of their previous works. Eye of Ra and the title track stands as a testament to this unlikable detail.

Bass too is missing in action in the album, and this just makes me wonder how much more 'br00tal' the album would've sound if they had packed that extra punch of thumping bass! But nevertheless Those Whom The Gods Detest is a solid effort from Nile for their 5th studio venture. And though there are a couple of lows in it, none are big enough to make them appear like a bunch of rag dolls in the current death metal scene as they certainly hold more weight than other 'death metal' floating in the waters. So go break your neck listening to this album or you're certainly not worthy enough to call yourself a metalhead.