by Riju Ray aka Dr. Death

Extreme Metal in the Indian subcontinent is still in the stages of infancy or rather still is in womb, and if I’d go into facts and figures it will make this article really very pointless! So fuck all of that!! Only only a minority of the metalheads listen to extreme music and those who do are extremely loyal to this form of metal! It all started in the city of Bangalore {b’lore} in southern India with the arrival of grind/death band ‘MISANTHROPE’, about a decade ago much ahead of its time in the music scene back then, which had one of the fast riffmasters in the country Jimmy Palkhivala. The band broke up in a couple of years and ‘DYING EMBRACE’ [DE] arose from its ashes with new members joining forces the core of Misanthrope in ’91-‘92. The bands musical direction was different being in the vein of doom/death with an overwhelming atmosphere of foreboding darkness surrounding it. DE, did quite a few gigs in their hometown after the self-financed debut CD “Serenades of Depravity” released in ‘97, which I think, is the most heard Indian metal band CD in the underground. The band has recently met with lotsa international success as ‘Legion of Death’ records based in France has released their 7”inch vinyl E.P. “Grotesque”. Also their debut effort is being re-released internationally by label “Nuclear War” from USA. This has been truly big for any Indian band!

Around the same time as DE launched their album a few DM bands began cropping up in Mumbai city too! One amongst them was ‘CACODEMON’ which got shot down pretty quick. They used to basically cover gods of DM like Obituary and Napalm Death. Soon one of the pioneers of the Mumbai DM scene ‘MORTICIDE’ was born which was a band that sorta paved the path for the newer extreme bands now. They broke the shackles of monotony in their city, attributed to the banal & soporific Met/M’deth covering bands all over the place. Morticide did regular gigging but maintaining a line-up was always their prime enemy that bogged them for quite a long period of hibernation in 2k. They’ve recently come back with a bang and more fires in their bellies, & will be recording their demo very soon too. Meanwhile in the Mumbai underground a new band came up ‘FATE’, which had ex-Morticide members who play atmospheric BM. The band has just released its 5-track demo cd entitled “Lead us to Darkness” and it’s an absolute masterpiece.

B’lore saw a sudden uprising of deathly acts towards end ’99-2k with “KRYPTOS” being amongst the forerunners with their unique blend of doom, black and some stoner elements in it too! Kryptos were planning to release their EP under Throatlatch records tentatively titled “Forsaken” early last year but some problems cropped up due to which the band is re-recording again for a full length now. Also born during that time was “MINDSNARE” which is a technical DM band by a single man with loads of vision and misfortune of being unable to keep talented band-mates around him. Mindsnare released a 4 track manic demo titled “1” which has to be heard to be believed. On finding more musicians Mindsnare coupled with Kryptos, another melodic death metal band “PHALLUSY”, and b’lore’s popular thrash band “THREINODY” to come out with a compilation cd “Headbangalore”. There was another BM band coming up too “ARCANE RITUAL” which has I think has broken up as many times as the shows they’ve play ed! They need some practise desperately to become a good act. A new DM band coming out from B’lore is “AUSHWITZ” and they seem to really mad at their jams, the band is yet to perform live.

Facing similar troubles as the mindsnare think-tank was “Demonstealer” a highly motivated artiste who after lots of difficulty formed his black/thrash band “DEMONIC RESURRECTION” {DR} which I must say has shot to fame quite quickly. Their debut CD “Demonstealer” [too!] was released in 2k speedily after formation compared to struggle the other bands had to go thru, courtesy the innovative use of home studios. This CD has done very well internationally as 2 zines one in Brazil and one in Italy slate it for release within a few weeks. It also enjoys regular airplay in some cities in Indonesia, Malaysia, Italy and USA. The tape version of the album is available in Malaysia under Sacred Prod. The band’s main man also has 2 side projects one of which is grindcore band “REPTILIAN DEATH” which is planning to record soon too. DR also has opened the ‘Demonic Studios’ for bands with little cash to record and release their demos at affordable prices. Another band from Mumbai was ‘ABHOR’ who vocalist was most impressive amongst the lot but work responsibilities has torn that band apart.

In the city of Chennai 2 new bands came up most prominent of which was “BLASPHEMY” which was formed in late ’98. They play a violently brutal mix of grind and death and are one hell of a live act as they’ve destroyed nearly all venues committing the folly of inviting them! They recorded a pretty shoddy demo “Demonz in the Dungeon” in ’99 in someone’s house, but enjoy heavy circulation in the underground despite its pathetic sound. The band has also been the prime band at the Deathfest festival both the years it’s been organized. They have recorded a live vcd for distro at the latest Deathfest, which will formally be released. They changed their name to “BLASPHEME” and a proper demo was in the pipeline, but they broke up and ‘EXCORIATE’ a grind outfit was formed recruiting Vikram from DE on drums. Blasphemy also contributed a song to a local metal compilation CD released by Throatlatch Recs that literally obliterated everything else on it!! Brilliant. Another band from there which was formed by some ex-members of blasphemy was “BONESAW” but no-ones heard from ‘em for quite a while now. Guess they’re R.I.P.

DE also has been underground for a while but the bands core formed a side-project “CONFLICTING THEORIES” last year. This band is by far the most savagely brutal band to come out of India and their shows are literal mindfucks, threatening to blow everyone in sight to smithereens! They also have a demo that is in its final stages & has Ben Vargas {ex-Engorged} contributing on the vocal assault. Unable to find musicians to match their furious speed here Jimmy did both the shredding and bass duties. Another side-project of DE is “GRUESOME MALADY” a sick, gore band who plan to release their full length titled ‘Infected with Virulent Seed’ by April. Their promo cd-r of the same has been getting rave reviews from u/g webzines. I have no idea when the CT cd [already recorded] will be released! A joint coalition between various b’lore bands last year lead to the formation of “INTESTINAL BUTCHERY” another grindcore project who believes in the merciless slaughtering classic tracks grindcore style. A short EP is expected soon by them, they are also very entertaining live acts if you can get your head up from the bouts of frenzied headbanging!

Delhi the capital city of the country on the other hand only has had pussy-whipped bands; only one band making a brief deathlike impact was “THE ELEVENTH COMMANDMENT” who is now no more. A new young band is “ACRID SEMBLANCE” playing hyper speed melodic DM who have just been kicking some serious arse in the Delhi local circuit. News is that they have also just finished recorded a short 5song EP due for release in the next couple of months. Totally isolated from the entire scene in the little town of Cochin was “DARK CRUCIFIX”, a DM band who also managed to come up with a 3-song demo. It was titled “Chapters of Damnation” and was a talented one too, and more unbelievable was the fact that the band had never performed live ever. Not a single gig and still such a good demo whereas the other cities’ bands we’re gigging regularly yet struggling to release some original material. The band’s drummer has also been featured in the ‘modern drummers’ magazine for his work on this demo. The northeast part of the country also has a few good bands like “ADRAMALECH” and “ALIEN AT STAKE” but they unfortunately that part of the country is torn by war and terrorism and sorta cut off from the rest of the metal scene. Bands form and die out {literally too sometimes!} there without anyone here knowing! Latest rumours were that a 2 day 30 band death metal show is slated for sometime in the summers. A new band from there is “NECROMANCER”!

The lack of record industry support too has crippled & prevented these bands from getting their music out. But I think the new metal label ‘Throatlatch Records’ might be willing to change all of that. TL has recently released popular Mumbai thrash band “METAKIX” as their 2nd release. True underground extreme music has been tough to obtain with shops selling only mainstream cds, but two labels in b’lore have been set up to ensure a regular access to good extreme music. One being “Nutcracker Records” started by Vikram, the main man of DE, and the other being “Soul Erosion Records”, these distro labels are basically mail order catalogues! Another problem plaguing these bands is lack of avenues to perform and showcase their talents. But that’s slowly been changing with the arrival of new & innovative entertainment co. started by the Fate and Morticide guys called “INTUNE ENTERTAINMENT”. This co. has been organizing metal shows regularly throughout the year in pubs in Mumbai city but their highlight is the 2-day mega-event “DOMINATION - THE DEATHFEST” which is heavily attended by deathsters all over the country. The co. has organized this event with tremendous success for 2 years running now. The third one this year will also see the release of 2CD compilation cd which will include talents from S.E.Asia as well as local talent. Some of the bands appearing on the CD might also be playing live here too!

Finally about the future of extreme music in India, I frankly think its definitely improving but will always fall pale in comparison to the S.E. Asian counties let alone the western world. And extreme music is still is relatively new phenomenon in India so I think they’re still lots of scope for it here. The fact remains that is that few listen to English music in this country dominated by the Hindi-film industry {bollywood} but that’s not what this article’s about is it? Mighty hails to all the bands I’ve mentioned for braving the relentless and unsupportive atmosphere, and still standing proud and tall!!

Some contact e-mail ids:
Dying Embrace/Gruesome Malady - slaytan_666@yahoo.com
Conflicting Theories - conflictingtheories@angelfire.com
Morticide - morticide666@yahoo.com
Fate - deathless@immortal.com
Kryptos - kryptos@beer.com, thuscruptus@hotmail.com
Intestinal Butchery - nglewis79@yahoo.com
Mindsnare - kpkrishnamoorthy@hotmail.com
Phallusy - phallusy@ironmaiden.com
Demonic Resurrection - demonstealer@hotmail.com {also Reptilian Death}
Arcane Ritual - chinz_v@hotmail.com
Blasphemy/Excoriate - iconoclasm@rediffmail.com
Dark Crucifix - samirjohn@hotmail.com
Acrid Semblance - death_the_beginning@hotmail.com
InTune Entertainment - deathster@hotmail.com,
Throatlatch Records - www.throatlatch.com

More info can be asked to Dr. Death: psychoray@hotmail.com