It’s a precarious time for ‘djent’; most of it either still sucks – or has gotten to sucking – major ass. Meshuggah’s Koloss for example sounds pretty boring from the previews. But once in a while, braving the stereotypes and decay that have riddled the genre since Fredrik Thordendal coined its definitive onomatopoeia a few years ago, a genuinely creative worm will crawl out of the woodwork to say Fuck you! to disparaging hipsters such as myself. Like Vildhjarta from Sweden, who recently put out their debut LP; a monstrous nugget of an album that I hereby deem the most important in it’s category since Meshuggah’s Chaosphere. Really, go ahead; I’d like to see which of you has the gall to judge differently. Masstaden took Vildhjarta years to write and produce and the output is assfuckingly spectacular. Unless you’re tone deaf or stupid or something.
Presently, in the wake of Vildhjarta’s palm-muted 8-string carnage, homeboy Keshav Dhar is all set to blow minds with Skyharbor’s seminal (read: India’s first) full length contribution to djent. At least that’s the buzz. You’ve got to wonder if Dhar is shitting his pants. Or maybe he isn’t. He seems like the cool, confident sort to me. I ran into him one day at Candies where he was with Manasi Kale, this scenester friend of mine who wears only black t-shirts. We discussed for a few minutes our mutual love for Amogh Symphony and Cloudkicker. I offered him a cigarette which he refused. Then I saw him again, killing it on stage at Nh7 Weekender a few days before news broke that Basick Records would be releasing his debut album – which, like Vildhjarta, he’s been brooding over for way too long.
Then, just the other day, I got my hands on Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos.
What do I think? Well, for one I’m only too glad to have finally heard it (completely illegally of course, and I won’t get into any more detail about this). I’ve been YouTubing Hydrodjent/ Skyharbor for (literally) years now. I’ve looked forward to this album. Immensely. Getting into my first listen of Blinding White Noise…, I was smiling so much my cheekbones hurt.
It’s sort-of-pretentious and very concept-albumish that the ten tracks on BWN:I&C have been slotted under two rubrics: the first seven under Illusion; with Daniel Tompkins on vox and the rest, Chaos with Sunneith Revankar*. But it isn’t as much a concept album as they say. There doesn’t seem to be much of a theme going on here, and the tracks in themselves are strong, each with it’s own self-contained energy, but string them together and the whole thing gets as fucking repetitive as djent bands are often wont to sound. Take my advice and put this on shuffle, with a sizeable break every two-three songs. Roll up a fat one. Drink some alcohol. It’ll be fun. It might even help you overlook the cracks in the album that show up once you’re done sitting through all 48 minutes of it.
The first thing you notice is that the songs were all probably written on solely instrumental principle, and Tompkins’ vocals seem to be that last-minute, desperate add-on that adds up to no clear purpose. His voice is monotonous, whiny and tends to muffle the rather amazing guitarwork that finds itself being pushed beneath the surface. Revankar does well though, screaming like a bunch of horny werewolves in heat, and his vocals don’t so much wrestle with the guitar lines as make love to them.
On the whole, Blinding White Noise shares its fail factor with the Periphery album from back in 2010. It’s… overdone, to put it simply. I can still listen to the Hydrodjent demos off YouTube and be impressed as fucking hell, but on this one, Skyharbor hasn’t nearly created another Masstaden or Chaosphere. Even with four years of effort, Dhar’s debut lacks the organic brutality of old school Meshuggah-esque prog, and in comparison to more modern prog-metal acts, the sound is jaded, uninspired, way too imitative. Keshav Dhar has been around for long, yes, but he’ll need to stick around for a lot longer to make the impact he is truly capable of in the long haul. Which I hope he does, because I was lucky enough to discover him when Hydrodjent was still one of the coolest djent outfits around. Best of luck, dude. Make another album soon. An instrumental one, ok?
Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos releases 23rd April, 2012.
*cool title for a heavy metal talk show.