Archive for the 'Guest Column' Category

17
Jun
14

Album Review: Whitechapel – Our Endless War (2014)

By HIMANSHU SINGH RATHOR

Our_Endless_War_WhitechapelWith the singles that came out prior to the album release, “Our Endless War” claimed to be the tightest and meticulously crafted album in Whitechapel‘s ten-year history. Given how much time the band put in, in terms of writing, getting a perfect tone, producing and mixing, one would expect an equivalent result, yeah? But, it’s too soon to reach that conclusion yet. First, let’s hear the album. A traditional start to the album, Rise is an inviting instrumental with a calm tone. One thing that makes itself clear after a couple of songs is that there is a drastic change in song-writing, which definitely benefits the album and makes it quite easy and refreshing for the listener. But nothing seems that appealing until Let Me Burn. Oh boy! This is what Whitechapel is capable of – a perfect slow start followed by sheer energy, chug-tech riffs at their best. 

What I had appreciated in their self-titled album though, failed to impress this time. Phil’s vocals seem so layered; moreover, stagnant and not what they are known for, although the catchy melodic riffs at the end of the songs make up for it. Not that one can’t get used to that, but it’s the vocals that primarily define Whitechapel‘s sound, especially the high (and yet guttural) singing which sounds so bad-ass and evil. I’ve been listening to Whitechapel for a nice six years, and l’ve always appreciated their lyrics. The song Worship the Digital Age is a prime WhitechapelBandexample of downright brutal song-writing, and it talks about the current state of our civilization and our fucked-up means of entertainment, and how we sold our souls to worship the digital age. Again, layered vocals with so much of mixing; Phil’s style and lyrical content has taken a huge turn over the last few years. I mean, at some point Phil’s just writing shit, senseless and asinine lyrics. It also makes him appear to be quite a douche (refer to Mono lyrics). I’m a big fan of his style and irresistible energy… but not on this album. For the amount of work done on this album and going by their words “working harder on perfecting every song than they ever had before”, it fails to convince their listeners. There’s nothing noteworthy apart from the couple of songs I mentioned, until the halfway mark. Black Out is another good song – powerful and moving.

I’m afraid that’s all I have to say about Our Endless War. There’s nothing great about the album except that Whitechapel‘s song-writing has improved a bit, and the use of three guitars is now even more justified. It’s not only about chugging riffs and hardcore music anymore – it’s about some good song-writing and making great use of the instruments. I’ve always thought of Whitechapel as a mind-blowing band and I look forward to more releases from them.

12
Jun
14

Concert Review: Shillong Open Air (Rain Revolt)

Review by Amal Kirti Singh | Pics by Edgenda (Shillong)

The first ever Shillong Open Air took place on 7Th June , 2014, Polo Grounds at Shillong. Shillong, also known as “Scotland of the East”, is a perfect place to host an open-air metal fest at this time of the year, when you barely want to move out under the scorching sun.

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Polo Grounds, Shillong

An open-air stadium with a nice capacity and perfect surroundings was all set to witness the first ever live show of the brutal death metal giants Dying Fetus in India. The weather was perfect for a metal concert, with mild rain and temperature around 22’C. Fans who had gathered to witness the mayhem were disappointed to learn that the tickets were divided into two price categories. I hope that the organizers will learn how “un-metal” it was to divide metal fans by keeping different ticket prices, because a big section of Dying Fetus fans had to see the band from afar, with only few lucky (rich) metal kids roaming near the stage.

I must say it was fun to see the stage come alive with all those lights and fireworks.

I’m not sure why the Indian bands didn’t get good sound. Maybe the sound engineers could not handle it well, because Dying Fetus was thunderous and their set was glitch-free.

Plague Throat (Shillong)

The official entry of Wacken Metal Battle from India this year was definitely a great choice for opening the show, as Plague Throat pleased the local crowd, and they pulled it off really well with some glitches in sound and setup. The moshing and headbanging began when a lot of people were still walking in. The band was tight, played for half an hour, and threw in Cannibal Corpse‘s Hammer Smashed Face at the end.

Cheisrah (Bangalore)

This progressive/metalcore outfit from Bangalore was definitely a misfit in a death metal concert and failed to impress the audience as well. With a little delay in the timings, the audience was already a little tired and it became a rest time for everyone when Cheisrah got on stage. With all their songs sounding very similar, the band came across as a cheap clone of August Burns Red, and people took a break to roll joints as the vocalist struggled to deliver.

Underside (Nepal)

The second “foreign” band was next to go. Initially failing to draw the crowd’s attention, Underside started to get into groove with some good cross-genre metal. With elements of black, melodic and industrial metal, the band was pretty energetic and something fresh the crowd witnessed. Their groove-ridden riffs along with a slightly doomy sound made the crowd mosh and headbang quite a bit.

IIIrd Sovereign (Aizawal)

Starting their second innings after a five-year hiatus, the death metal pioneers from the northeast took the stage. A little conscious in the beginning, the band started off with some of their new tracks which were pretty good. IIIrd Sovereign had local support and lived up to expectations pretty well. Vedanta (the vocalist) is still pretty energetic and knows how to make the crowd mosh. Full marks to them for making a fitting comeback!

Dying Fetus (USA)

The death/brutal death giants headlining the event were the big thing 1,500 fans were waiting desperately for all that evening. The band, with three killer monsters geared-up came on the stage without any delay. After the formal greetings, they directly got to business with John Gallagher thundering like a beast. Soon joined Sean Beasley with his slapping bass lines and crushing vocals. The drummer, Trey Williams, was amazing, and took the mayhem to another level. Dying Fetus played tracks from almost all the albums – from Purification Through Violence to War of Attrition. Everybody at the back and in the front made the most of the one-hour assault by moshing, circling in the pit and headbanging. Disappointing none of their fans, Dying Fetus finished the show with Praise the Lord and shook the valley of Shillong one last time.

It was the first time the much neglected northeastern got such a great concert. I hope the organizers make it bigger over the years, so that many more metalheads flock to the beautifully brutal city of Shillong.

Amal Kirti Singh is the vocalist and bassist of the Pune-based extreme-metal band Vedic Ritual.

06
Feb
14

Sockweb – It’s Time To Get Bullies

By ASMO

Album: ‘It’s Time To Get Bullies’

Artist: Sockweb

From: Richmond, Indiana, USA

Label: Monolithic Records

Availability: Stream / Download for $1 from theironcouncil.bandcamp.com

It’s been one of those weeks. You know the ones where a second feels like a lifetime, and every hour an eternity? The ones where you check the time every 20 minutes or so, waiting ever so patiently to slink off? You stuff your face with anything and everything, you check emails and chats and wait for people to strike up any interesting conversation? Yet, you remain bored. Bored out of your skull. And just when you’re contemplating the silly travails of life, you find that one stimulant that brings you back in to the real, productive world. And before you know it, you’re jumping up and down like the Energizer bunny.

Yes, this happened to me this week. What was that stimulant? Glad you asked.

Sockweb - 02 - Album ArtLadies and gentlemen, meet Sockweb. An American grindcore project that took the Internet by storm last year thanks to some brilliant ditties about pancakes, Scooby-Doo monsters, bullies, and werewolves. Seems a bit juvenile? Well, pop it in, and trust me, you won’t know what came and hit you.

One listen to the band’s new four track EP “It’s Time To Get Bullies” will leave you bedazzled, stumped, exhilarated, and happy. With a big stupid smile on your face! Lead vocalist Joanie ‘Bologna’ Young is just seven, yes, seven years old. She screams, sings, whispers, rants, growls and more throughout the four tracks, channeling her inner Kat Katz (Agarophobic Nosebleed, ex-Salome). It’s achingly cute, sugary sweet adorable, and at the same time, so, so, metal!

Joanie’s words are backed and bound together by osmium heavy, yet abrasive guitar work, a bass that booms all around, and absolutely wicked drums. All courtesy guitarist, composer, and well, father Adam ‘Blackula Young’, who also jumps in with growls of his own. You won’t need a lyrics booklet to understand the dialogue here. Instead, you’ll be nodding your head in agreement. Unless, of course, you are headbanging away to glory.

Critics will consider the band a gimmick. But the songs are anything but. It’s heart warming and genuine music that you can relate to. Superbly produced by Pig Destroyer mainman Scott Hull, the EP is what good art is. A genuine expression of self that’s easily understood, and appreciated by anyone who consumes it. This is what a quadruple-shot black coffee would be aurally. In one word, awesome.Sockweb - 01 - Band

 

 

20
Jan
14

SundogProject – Hex1/Visions

By

ASMO

Album: ‘HEX 1 / Visions’

Artist: SundogProject

From: New Delhi, India

Label: Independent

Availability: Stream / Download from  HYPERLINK “http://www.sundogproject.com” http://www.sundogproject.com

It takes guts to tag yourself “experimental”. The word implies that you can push boundaries and definitions, or else formulate and approach that’s an amalgamation of disparate styles, or simply, introduce new ingredients to tradition. The word against a band’s name lures in the curious mind. After all, who doesn’t like being challenged, and hence, discover new ideas? With ‘HEX1 / Visions’, the SundogProject delivers on that tag, and how. The debut album from the Delhi based supergroup-of-sorts spans six songs that are dark, doomy, gloomy, and moody. It’s a lush soundscape that you can’t really put a finger on. With elements of industrial, alternative and rock married to electronica, the songs, on first listen, will make you reminisce ‘Kid-A‘ era Radiohead, Tool, and industrial powerhouse Nine Inch Nails. But, the only reason you will recall those bands is because you will be at your wits end, trying to compartmentalize and make sense of this album.

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Most of the songs are built up on a hypnotizing progression that drones on and on. As elements are added in, layer by layer, you are greeted with a thunderous distorted bass, crunchy-yet-smooth guitars, and vocal lines that can range from whispers to screams. The first couple of tracks serve as a harsh introduction to a world that you are not familiar with. But, by the time ‘Venus’ and ‘Face/3’ swing in, it all comes together to make up an experience that’s intensely personal. One which you can immerse, and lose yourself in.

All in all, this is definitely a challenging album. One which will have you hit ‘repeat’ ever so often, just so that you can peel the layers and reach the core. And once you’re there, don’t bother if you ‘get it’ or not. You’ll appreciate it for the sonic adventure it will set your mind on.

About The Band

From: New Delhi, India

Initially a studio project started by Rahul Das (vocalist, Joint Family), the band today comprises guitarist Rahul Sainani and drummer Shardul Mehta [from Joint Family], bassist Anupam Roy [producer and guitarist, Narsil] and guitarist Viraj Mohan [Another Vertigo Rush].

ALBUM REVIEW: Monster MagnetLast Patrol

16
Jan
14

Monster Magnet – Last Patrol

By ASMO

Album: ‘Last Patrol’
Artist: Monster Magnet
From: New Jersey, USA
Label: Napalm Records
Availability: iTunes, Rs 130 (available October 21, 2013); Stream on SoundCloud.com

Meat and potatoes. Yellow daal and steamed rice. Aloo-Puri. Home cooked, comfort food. Simple, easy to digest, delicious, and most importantly, forever satisfying. It nourishes, delights, lifts your spirits, and stays with you.

indexYou can slot in Monster Magnet’s tenth album, ‘Last Patrol’ in the same category. Here, the sludge lords from New Jersey turn the clock back to give you a smattering of their past. A tasty collection of nine songs (eleven if you include the bonus tracks) that are more psychedelic, spacey and atmospheric than their last few releases.

Produced by frontman, Dave Wyndorf and rhythm guitarist Phil Caviano, ‘Last Patrol’ roughly follows the classic early 90’s Monster Magnet formula. A rather distinctive, slow start that casually builds up to an overwhelming wall of sound, infused with some excellent guitar solos and Wyndorf’s twangy-yet-manly vocals. ‘End Of Time’, ‘Bummer’ and ‘Last Patrol’ hypnotise you, and legally take you to higher states of being. The acoustic ‘Paradise’ harks back to the Magnet’s biggest hit ‘Dopes To Infinity’, while the Donovan cover is churned with all the doominess the band can muster up.

MonsterMagnet-BandBesides the songs, what ‘Last Patrol’ does exceedingly well is that it retains all the fuzzy, vintage sound that the band was known for. The record sounds and feels natural, as if the band jumped in together in their practice pad and hammered out everything using just analog recording devices. It has all the textures of an oil painting where you can see the brush-strokes, and none of the flat-lines of a digital painting, even though it may be pixel-perfect.

Those with a penchant for experimentation may not find anything new here. The band largely sticks to its comfort zone. But, that’s not a bad place to be in. Take it or leave it, you know just what to expect from Monster Magnet. ‘Last Patrol’ is a welcome addition to the discography, and a reminder of times when the future was bright, and lives weren’t that complicated. Like an old friend, or home-food that you reach out to when you’re down in the dumps and feeling blue, ‘Last Patrol’ will always keep you company when you are craving for something you know can’t go wrong.

MUSIC REVIEW: Black Sabbath‘s 13

 

14
Jan
14

Movie Review: The Wolf Of Wall Street

By JANAK SAMTANI

The film is based on the memoirs of Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, a stock broker on Wall Street. The film starts with his career at a Wall Street firm which shuts down and his move to a small time investment firm which deals in penny stocks. It is here where Jordan finds out the profits one could make through commissions from sales of penny stocks. Soon he moves out of there to start his own firm and gets a bunch of known guys, shown to be drug dealers with no banking experience, to join this firm.
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From the start till the end of the film, the investors and Jordan Belfort’s customers are shown as morons, who could be easily cheated and would be sold a story on how the stock would perform. Jordan is shown to be a great salesman who teaches his bunch the trade. The entire success of his company, Stratton Oakmont, which he starts, is based on this. The company starts to grow and make huge profits. With this come lavish parties with drugs and girls, which just do not stop and make the whole thing look unreal after a while. The guys are shown addicted to cocaine and Quaaludes, which they keep popping in every scene and there is just no end to it. Wherever they may go, there is a drug scene involved.

Within no time the company grows from a few people to over a hundred. There is more cursing, shouting, employees going out of control and make the whole workplace look like WWF’s Royal Rumble, which actually looked better. The only time the entire place is quiet is when Jordan is talking to the entire company. They have tried too hard to show how great a salesman he was. Everyone listens to him and gets inspired. All he does is repeatedly sell the idea that by being rich you can solve all your problems. And how do you get rich? By selling lies to people. If you have attended any multilevel marketing seminar ever, in real life I mean, you do not need to go for this film.
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The plot is very loose and events just happen; between the drug scenes, the FBI gets on Jordan’s back, he gets the title of ‘Wolf’, the regulators wake up to the fraud and Jordan’s father just emerges in a scene to come and give him advice. The film is made by Martin Scorsese and that surprises me. If you have seen some of his past films and like them then you will want to leave this film midway.

The film is completely hollow, unconvincing and could have been cut down from three hours to just a little over one. Better go smoke a joint and watch Royal Rumble than this film!

Rating: 2/5

16
Dec
13

IN PICS: Solar Deity LIVE in 2013

Photos by Ashwin Suriyanarayan, Dhruva Suresh, Metal Farmer Photography, Akshay Tambe Photography, Kunal Khullar/What’s The Scene?, Tanmay Kulkarni, Tushar Sonawane, Sushant Sawant/Pop Splat and Dhruv Kalra.

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