Originally published in the Hindu Metroplus Bangalore edition on June 21st, 2013
There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned metal gig, and that’s something there isn’t a dearth of in the city in the recent months. While newer, modern metal bands are also trying to etch out their own scene, the ones who’ve stuck around for the better part of a decade (and more) are now the ones organising all the gigs. Vikram Bhat of doom/death metal band Dying Embrace has been around the scene for 20 years, and he’s now put together Doom Over Bangalore –an annual event featuring his own band and stoner/doom metal stalwarts Bevar Sea as the house bands, while inviting different guest bands every year.
Their timing is good with the first edition, according to Bhat, since the gig is also the launch party for the recently-released Motorhead Tribute India album and a pre-party for the Bangalore Open Air, one of the biggest asian metal festivals taking place on July 6. Apart from the likes of Kryptos on the lineup, Kolkata thrash metal band Mortar and black/death/thrash metal band Witchgoat will also play.
Last but not least, is the return of Kannada death metal band Dhwesha, who last played in April, which was their first gig in nearly a year. Sure, it’s hard enough to understand death metal growls to begin with, and when they’re in Kannada, you’re going to be either concentrating too hard or begging the band to post lyrics online – because that’s how much anyone’s curiosity would be piqued about songs about battles, dark fantasy and the occult. Here’s an interview with the band’s guitarist Somesha Sridhara on their influences, their plans for a full-length album to follow up their demo tape Yuddhabhumi, and why they probably won’t be playing next to any other Kannada-language band, ever.
1. You guys are taking stage after quite some time, if I’m not wrong. Why the lull?
The last show we played was in April, but yeah we had not played live for a year before that, since all the members were in different parts of the country which made it difficult for us to play a show. Now that we are back, we’re looking forward to playing live more often and recording our full length album in the coming months.
2. It seems to be a great time for old school metal bands in India right now, particularly in Bangalore. Do you think it’s a revival, or it’s just more specific to Bangalore for some reason?
Well, you could say it is a ‘Revival’ of old school metal and we’re glad that it’s happening now! With bands like Dying Embrace, Millennium and Threinody back, playing live and recording new material (all three Bangalore bands, which were formed over a decade ago, regrouped in the last couple of years). It was about time the city got a dose of what good metal is all about. And it’s not just in our city, Kolkata is at it too. They have few absolutely killer bands – Mortar, Necrodeity, Armament and Dead Veneration, who play music influenced by ‘80s and early ‘90s metal bands.
3. You guys had a demo cassette tape out last year. I wanted to know how many copies you sold, and what prompted the decision to release it in cassette form?
We made only around 50 tapes which were all sold out at Trendslaughter Fest II (in January 2012). However, a Polish distro (distribution label) released our demo in Europe and there maybe a few of them available to be ordered through the distro.
We always wanted our demo to be out on tape since most of the bands that we are influenced by have had their demos and earlier albums on tape.
4. Coming to the point about your Kannada lyrics – what are they about? What kind of themes do you draw from?
The lyrics blend into our sound perfectly well. With the number of songs enough for a full length, it’s become quite natural for us now. Initially, we wrote only about war and mythology, but the newer songs we’ve written have lyrical themes ranging from Dark Fantasy to Lovecraftian imagery. One of the songs we composed after the demo has its lyrics dealing with witchcraft and the song title in English translates to ‘A Council of Witches’. Occultism is something we’re also very interested to look into for future material.
5. Are your lyrics particularly suited to being sung in Kannada? I mean, would they sound cheesy or awesome when translated into English?
Anything ‘awesome’ can also sound ‘cheesy’ when translated. It all depends on the choice of words.
6. I’m assuming you guys couldn’t/didn’t want be a part of the Motörhead India Tribute because no one wants to hear stuff like ‘The One To Sing the Blues’! Or are you guys just not that into Motörhead?
We worship Motörhead, but couldn’t be a part of the Motörhead India Tribute album as we were not around when it happened and were busy with other engagements.
7. Which bands do you draw from on the music side of things? Any Indian influences at all?
Bolt Thrower, Unleashed, Caducity, Dismember, Desultory and Eucharist to name a few. The Indian bands that we look up to, not just musically but in terms of staying true to your sound are Dying Embrace and Kryptos.
8. Hypothetically, if there was a festival/gig where only Kannada-language bands played – what kind of response do you think would Dhwesha get next to Swarathma and Raghu Dixit?
Honestly, we wouldn’t expect any response at a show where the crowd does not expect a metal band and the chances of us being a part of such a festivals is close to none.
9. Lastly, what are you guys playing at Doom Over Bangalore on June 22? What is your setlist like?
We’ll be playing most of our songs. Out of eight songs that we have, we might drop one and play a cover or two.
Doom Over Bangalore takes place on June 22 at No Limmits, MG Road. Entry Rs 700 including a free pint of beer.