5. Blessings and Curses
6. The Alpha Male
7. Goa Magic
A few of my friends have been wondering what the point of faux meat is.
1. People don’t go vegan because they don’t like the look, smell, taste or texture of animal foods. They switch to cruelty-free alternatives because they understand that animals need not be involved at all.
2. Plant-based meats are obviously better for the planet in every way as plants don’t require as much water as ‘livestock’ does. Also, read up about the land use required for and methane release caused due to animal agriculture. (It is the Number One cause of environmental destruction.)
3. Wouldn’t you like to eat a vegan steak that looks, smells, tastes and feels exactly like animal flesh but doesn’t require anybody to suffer and die? One of the many benefits of making cool choices is that you won’t be ingesting animal fat or cholesterol and will be being kinder to yourself as well. Why not play with a pig and eat a large pizza with plant-based ‘pork’ toppings and stretchy, gooey vegan cheese?
4. Meat-free and dairy-free alternatives are for the awesome people who want to pull out of the cycle of violence but don’t want to switch to fruits and vegetables right away and want to enjoy burgers and tacos and pizzas and steaks and everything else they can have Vegan.
If there’s anything at all that you’d like to know about the mental, physical or environmental benefits of being Vegan, please ask me or any Vegan you know. We will kick your…um, we’ll be glad to answer your queries.
GAURAV PASUPULETI (SOUTHLANE)
The Indian release that I’m looking forward to this year is by the Thrash Metal band from Kerala “Chaos“. Their new single song “All Against All” from the album second album “All against All” is a mix of thrash metal with a blend of melodic guitar solo. Their previous album “Violent Redemption” is a heady concoction of politics and metal. That album had an impact on me personally as a thrash fan. Their sound stays true to the old school thrash metal with frenetic riffing, high tempo drumming, and vocal style.
The most awaited international release for me this year has to be by the band “Mastodon“. My first experience with “Mastodon” was with their 2006 release “Blood Mountain“. These guys blend in some traditional heavy metal with progressive metal giving birth to a genre which is still a mystery to me. With every album this band grows unto me. None of their album is similar to the previous album. Every album has some newer elements that these guys add to their recent release. This band is a joyride which is one hell of it’s kind. Their new single song “Sultan’s Curse” off from their album “Emperor Of Sand” is a must listen for you guys. “Emperor of Sand” which is the 7th studio album is scheduled to release on 31st of March. Check ’em out.
NILABJA BANERJEE (DEADBOLT)
There are very few bands in the Indian metal scenario that play doom metal in its traditional form, and Djinn & Miskatonic is definitely one of them. I always liked the eeriness mixed with heaviness in their sound and the amazing conceptual lyrics. Their debut record, ‘Forever in the Realm’ was a complete win with me so really looking forward to their upcoming release!
The Teutonic thrash masters Coroner are set to release their much awaited 6th album, Autopsy in 2017 after a long gap of 24 years! Coroner has always been a band who never really got the spotlight like the other Teutonic giants such as Kreator, Sodom, or Destruction. However to me they have been a quintessential source of inspiration, and are definitely one of the best bands to have come out of the 80s Thrash Metal movement. Honestly speaking, very few thrash metal bands out there can match up to the technical prowess of Coroner!
VARUN PANCHAL (CARNAGE INC.)
I was quite oblivious to Chaos‘ music until I heard their debut album Violent Redemption sometime last year. The riffs on that record are just perfect thrash – a little bit of crazy and loads of aggression. I also got to catch them live at a gig recently in Mumbai and they were absolutely spot on. After all I have heard and watched of them, I am quite sure their next album “All Against All” is going to be a rager for sure.
Havok – great band, great writing and I love their energy live. Again, came across this band quite recently, but must say, they stand out in the crowd of ‘Neo-thrash’ bands with their take on the genre. As I write this their 4th studio effort Conformicide is being released worldwide and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!
SUBHRAJYOTI SARKAR (HALAHKUH)
I am really really stoked for the new Decapitated album that’s gonna hit us a like freight train this summer. This band is something I really look forward to, I have been a fan of all of their previous work and really can’t wait to see what they have in store for us.
And the Indian release that I am excited about is Undying Inc‘s new single Alpha Absolute. This band really knows their blend of technicality and groove. With a new member added to the band, looking forward to this one also.
AAKASH DWIVEDI (GRAPHIC DESIGNER / ILLUSTRATOR)
There’s just one international project I’m always looking forward to: Paysage d’Hiver – cold, carsh, Raw Black Metal from Switzerland which undoubtedly, in my opinion, is the greatest Black Metal project on this planet. No other band expresses the language of winter landscape, night and desolation as perfectly as Wintherr does. True to the underground, he releases music without any formal announcement. ‘Das Tor‘ was released in 2013 so I’m really looking forward to this year being the one. And from India: Dormant Inferno – No announcement yet but I remember reading somewhere that they’re writing new music. If that happens, we may see one of the best Death/Doom releases of the year. Very consistent quality and excellent musicians who’ve kept the beautiful genre alive in India. Another notable release I’m looking forward to is the Shepherd / DEATHBYFUNGI split.
KIRON KUMAR (PRIMITIV, HELLWIND)
Rumour has it that Alice In Chains are working on a new record and to be out sometime this year. While I got introduced to them very recently, (with The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. Yeah, I know :/) they have been the strongest musical influence on me in recent times. Primitiv tracks like World War Zero, and some new one’s to be coming out soon have Chains written all over them if you listen closely. And Chaos – hands down the best Thrash Metal I’ve come across from India. Their debut album – Violent Redemption is one of my all time favourites. Exodus and Overkill (forgotten thrash legends for the most part) influences are evident, and well produced. Their title track released last week sounds even more promising.
NARAYANAN HARIDAS (BLACK METAL KRIEG CO-ORGANIZER)
After their successful release of Violent Redemption in 2015, the Kerala “flag bearers of Thrash Metal in India” metallers are back with a much faster and heavier album “All Against All” set to release in 2017. In their first album. they focussed more on social or political significance. In the upcoming album, they talk about things that separate and segregate people into different categories. So, if you are looking for faster and heavier thrash metal this should be your pick. Carach Angren is a symphonic black metal band from the Netherlands, formed by two members of the now-defunct bands Inger Indolia and Vaultage. Their style is characterized by prominent use of orchestral arrangements. They set themselves apart from other symphonic black metal artists in showcasing songs often using multiple languages apart from English, such as French, German and Dutch, though every song does use English as a baseline and certain choruses or sections will make the transition. Although there is not much information on their release this year but they sure are releasing before end of this year. Watch out for them!
DEBAJIT BISWAS, INFERNAL DIATRIBE
As an artist, one must always be on the lookout for new and interesting musical releases – be it a canonical band or local, hidden gems. But personally, I am psyched about Belphegor‘s next album release due on the 7th of March this year. Belphegor has always had a special appeal for me : they are diabolical and brutal in a haunting way, a testimony of genuine extreme metal and true heaviness. As for band closer home, I’m looking for to Heathen Beast‘s next release. Their art is socially and politically charged, with a combination of a sound which spells absolute savagery. It’s a combination one simply cannot ignore.
SUPRATIM SEN, FRAGARAK
I would be eagerly waiting to see what Trey conjures up in the upcoming Morbid Angel album with the new line up especially with Steve’s return in the band. Given how Immolation dramatically upped the death metal taste buds this year, it would be interesting to see what Morbid Angel brings to the table with their much awaited release. Also I have to add another significant look out for me this year, which would be to witness the return of Demonaz after a decade to take charge of Immortal‘s much hyped offering. Especially when the high point of the band’s career was wrought with Abbath blooming in all his glory, it would be intriguing to see the brand of black metal that Demonaz brings back with his sole contribution in the songwriting process. Coming down to the difficult part – Indian releases this year, admittedly since the personal favorites acts are few to list and more so cause they’ve come up with great releases last year already. Nevertheless, Solar Deity‘s upcoming release Forbidden Knowledge would definitely be in my watch out list, owing to the engaging and brooding atmosphere they introduce in their realms of traditional black metal roots. Also, Wintergate and Falcun are supposedly planned to release material this year, which should be exciting going by both the bands’ structured and ingenious approach to songwriting in their respective genres.
BRIJRAJ AGARWAL (SLAYTANIC DISTRO OWNER)
Djinn and Miskatonic – Even Gods Must Die
My lovely friend JP’s band Djinn is a band that has always passed undetected on most Indians’ radar. Although the first album sold out completely, they still are very less talked-about. They’re extremely enjoyable and the debut is a great listen every now and then. I’m eager to get their sophomore release mostly because I enjoyed every demo that I’ve had the privilege of listening to, thanks to JP. The band and the debut, both have gone through a lot since the day of its release, mostly due to some pompous uncles so I can’t wait to see my favourite Indian doom band put out a great release and get everything they deserve.
Memoriam – For the Fallen
Memoriam is Bolt Thrower‘s second incarnation. Half of it is the early (read trve) Bolt Thrower and the other half is the best English death metal has to offer. Plus, I haven’t heard much of Karl Willets since a decade so I don’t mind putting up with another 8 tracks featuring him. Andy Whale is returning after twenty years (correct me if I’m wrong!) and it’s just too much legacy in one album to miss. I’ve been expectant of this full length since last year’s demo releases (which sounded massive, BTW) but I was a bit disappointed in the first single. Nevertheless, I’m still full of spirits!
SAHIL MAKHIJA (DEMONIC RESURRECTION)
Prateek Rajagopal is like Prashant Shah reborn. For the longest time Prashant Shah has been my favourite Indian metal guitar player and Exhumation my most favourite Indian Death Metal band. Very few bands every hit all the check marks for me like Exhumation did. However, going by the little snippets of the new Gutslit album that Prateek has been uploading, it’s safe to say Gutslit‘s new record Brodequin might just hit all those boxes once again. I’m definitely looking forward to the new sound of the band. With new vocalist Kaushal replacing Aditya Barve and Prateek taking over from Dynell we’re in for a whole new sounding Gutslit. It’s definitely more polished, more meaty brutal death metal and it’s definitely going to kick some serious ass.
Another album I’m really looking forward to is the new Sycorax album called ‘Sycotherapy‘. These guys are a very underrated band from Darjeeling. I had the pleasure of watching them a year ago when they opened for DR at a show in Delhi and they really blew me away. The clips they have been uploading from their recording are extremely promising and I can’t wait to hear the final album when it comes out. I think it’s due for a 2017 release.
SUSHANT YADAV (WRATH, DARKRYPT, ORCUS)
The two metal albums I’m waiting for are Plague Throat‘s new release and Demonic Resurrection‘s latest offering! I heard a few snippets from Plague Throat‘s new album when their producer Ashwin Shriyan posted them on Instagram and knew that it’s an album I will simply have to check out! As for Demonic Resurrection, I happened to hear their song Matsya and was pleasantly surprised by how different it sounded from anything on The Demon King. The sitar blended really well with the rest of the instruments and I’m looking forward to Dashavatar to see what else it has to offer.
“Eight years ago as a scrawny lad at the age of 17, I was introduced to the pull up bar by my uncle, who inspired me to use my body weight to exercise, adding in variations along with push ups and running. I started training with him and soon it became an addiction! My diet used to include meat, eggs, dal, rice and ghee. I’ve always loved animals and was brought up to have compassion for all animals thanks to my aunt, but was not aware of what goes on in the slaughter industry.
Soon after I started working out, I discovered calisthenics, and then found another inspiration in life – Bruce Lee! I started researching, studying and practicing his martial art, Jeet Kune Do. My workouts would include pull ups, push ups, dips, core and cardio and kept improving the intensity by adding weights and performing the movements. I performed these movements for four years straight while studying hotel management in Bangalore and soon realized my passion was in the fitness industry.
It was in Bangalore that I researched on the slaughter industry and made me realize that eating meat was not right. I quit eating meat at the age of 21 but ate eggs and milk since I wasn’t educated that one could build strength and muscles without eating some sort of animal protein. While in Bangalore I studied Krav Maga, an Israeli martial art and developed my
skills in street fighting. I moved back to Pune but would used to come to Mumbai on weekends, and further studied Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do under Bruce Lee’s lineage. I also did a certification in fitness and learned body building techniques and body mechanics, and started applying them in my workouts.
In a month I was soon squatting and deadlifting as if I have been lifting weights for a year thanks to the years of calisthenics. I started working at the functional fitness club Multifit as the core team and head coach two years back and progressed in functional training and calisthenics. By this time I knew about the cruelty in the egg and milk industry and wanted to turn vegan but didn’t know how to without losing muscle and physical performance. It was then that I came across a scientific fitness based organisation called Alpharaj and met the founder, Aman Duggal, who helped me turn vegan and educated me on how to consume enough nutrients through vegan food and supplements to suit my workouts and martial arts routine. It’s been a year since I turned vegan with putting on muscle and increased overall performance.“
VEGANS IN MUMBAI are licking their fingers every night because of healthy meat that vegetarians and non-vegetarians don’t yet know about – Chaap Ki Chaap has its first stall in Four/Seven Bungalows, Andheri – and the food is tasty as fuck. We, the enlightened ones, have already visited the tiny outlet about a dozen times and can’t wait to go back there thrice tonight. It’s mock meat that looks, smells, tastes and feels exactly like fish, chicken, mutton and prawns, and it’s all vegan as fuck. There are many vegan kababs (that’s how ‘kebabs’ is spelled) and quite a few vegetarian kebabs (you can spell ‘kababs’ any way you like) which can be veganized, and they’re so good that all the vegans frequent Chaap Ki Chaap not only to gorge on them, but also to stuff their faces with meaty gravies with a roomali roti right after, and order a takeaway for the unenlightened non-vegans at home. We’re not going to tell you what to call for, because you need to try everything and have your ugly ass kicked by the look of the dishes, the smells, the tastes and the textures. My review of Chaap Ki Chhaap? Let me put it this way – it’s blowing nonvegans away.
Address: 1, Ratan Nagar Ln, Gharkul Society, Ratan Nagar, Four Bungalows, Andheri West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400047
THE BEST MEALS I HAD IN 2016 were at an unnoticeable restaurant in Andheri East, outside Varma Nagar, on Andheri Kurla Road, across the road from Teli Galli, and you’ll be surprised to learn how a place owned by a South Indian and run by boys from Madhya Pradesh can have you going back several days in a row for authentic Kathiyawadi food. I remember seeing a small blackboard outside the establishment and thinking it was cute that an eatery could hope to entice people with the day’s special vegetable dishes scrawled with chalk in Gujarati. It succeeded in luring me in for sure, and it has taken me a year of eating at Kathiyawadi Jalsa to write this review.
IT’S AS BIG AS A SMALL ROOM, this delightful, uninviting Mumbai restaurant, and so undetectable that not even a lot of ‘foodies’ who reside in Varma Nagar have knowledge of Kathiyawadi Jalsa‘s existence. But that’s good for me – I love all things exclusive and obscure – and I’d rather great things stay that way. Most people, unable to look beyond what they see, walk right into Pallavi (the garish and unremarkable multi-cuisine of the area; every area has at least one such garbage dump), and the commoners eat food made the way they think: without thought.
YOU MUST ASK UPON ENTERING Kathiyawadi Jalsa (even if you can read Gujarati) what the day’s special sabzis are, for those are the vegetable dishes ready in case you’re starving. The thalis are to be avoided, for they bring with them not only the dairy-based sweet, curd and buttermilk but also the watery dal. And not ordering the thali will get you much bigger portions of the veggies, so ask for Lasaniya Bataka (garlicky potato curry, their staple), and one of the other specials if they sound interesting or order stuff à la carte and have the healthier breads on the menu as well.
MOST OF THE VEGETABLE DISHES are sure to excite anyone who hasn’t tried Kathiyawadi food before; it’s wonderfully spicy stuff and goes terrifically with the thepla and any type of rotla. I don’t want to recommend anything here – this is one of the Indian cuisines you must try everything of and find your likes and dislikes – but will I will suggest that you taste the three khichdis when you’re done with the veggies and breads after several visits to Kathiyawadi Jalsa.
KATHIYAWADI JALSA IS THE RESTAURANT you want to go to for tasty, filling and affordable meals when you’re near Andheri Station. For some reason the eating house also goes by the name of “Hotel Gurukripa” but it shouldn’t be hard to find if you follow my directions. Please remember to tell them two, three, four times that you don’t want any dairy products in your food, because they’re almost always running around and tend to forget instructions. I’ve sent back rotis and theplas and rotlas several times because they were slathered with ghee (clarified butter). Yeah, I’m like that.
Kathiyawadi Jalsa – A/22, Gopal Bhuvan, Andheri-Kurla Road, opposite Teli Galli, Andheri East 400069
Phone: 02226842958, 02226842959