Tape Wyrm XIII: New Wave of Indian Heavy Metal Tape Wyrm XIII: New Wave of Indian Heavy Metal

New Wave Of Indian Heavy Metal

One of my favorite pastimes, besides creating album covers for fictitious bands, is exploring the development of heavy metal in countries not usually associated with heavy metal. Historically, Europe and the United States have been involved in heavy metal’s most memorable milestones including the formation of its premiere styles. For decades, the western world has been heavy metal with few instances of outside influence. This is of course changing.

Within the current digital landscape it is almost impossible to keep anything isolated. There in lies the root of my obsession. Today, there exists a pluralism in heavy metal with the style reaching across the globe in unexpected places. One of those places is India. Along with the southeast region of Asia, India is gaining prominence in the arena of heavy metal. Combined with the formation of new bands and a massive surge in popularity, India is quickly becoming a major player in heavy metal production. While a few years shy of worldwide recognition, Indian heavy metal could potentially become an unseen force in the future of the genre.

If the idea of Indian heavy metal seems a bit absurd, you should not feel guilty. Before 2000, Indian heavy metal was sparse if not virtually nonexistent. India’s most popular music export has and still is film soundtracks for its vibrant movie industry. There is also a deep and complex circuit of folk and classical music which rarely makes it into the mainstream network. While India has provided inspiration to progressive western musicians such as John Coltrane, The Rolling Stones, and the Beatles, the idea of Indian contemporary pop music, outside the immediate region, has been rare. This is of course changing.

During the 1990’s, Indian rock gained popularity with Indus Creed and the hilariously named Metal Aliens In Devil’s Souls. Metal and rock were imports into India’s borders producing a mix of bands dedicated to innovative creation and international replication. Outside of the bands now historically linked to the 1990’s (Brahma, Cranium, Akratior, Misanthrope, Moksha), Indian heavy metal lay dormant until the turn of the century. Within the last 5 years heavy metal has exploded, developing at a massive rate in the countries’ three most populated cities. New Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai now stand as the countries three largest centers for Indian heavy metal.

When I first approached Indian heavy metal, I was under the impression I was entering into the world of the Bhagavad Gita and the larger style of Vedic Metal. Vedic metal is a heavy metal hinged on Hindi epics and the fusion of Indian folk structures. While Vedic metal exists in the sparser bands such as the Singapore based Ruda, it has not defined the larger style of Indian heavy metal. India as a universal metal concept is geared toward a progressive future, concerned with only tomorrow rather than the past. Thrash, death, and progressive metal dominate the development of Indian bands. While I am sure folk metal combining traditional instruments with modern innovations exists, it is not as prominent as bands concerned with already established styles. India is second in the world’s population closely closing in to China. With that many people it is not hard to imagine some amazing music being produced in the near future.

The term “New Wave Of Indian Heavy Metal” was used in jest only as a humorous title. The collection of contemporary Indian heavy metal bands shares neither the style nor the geographic proximity to be considered a cohesive wave. The very mention of “heavy metal located in India” as a category only speaks to its formative nature. Perhaps in the future India will be divided by regional distinction or even smaller scenes located in populated centers. My interest in this global metal project rests in the idea of traveling to distant lands in search of exotic treasures which sound like the death cries of sheep. Truth alone triumphs and I hope to see the development of India, in terms of heavy metal, in the near future.

Demonic Resurrection (Mumbai) 2000 – Present

We might as well begin our journey into Indian heavy metal with one of the most popular bands. I understand “popular” maybe a subjective term at this point. Demonic Resurrection received attention when they were featured in the 2008 documentary Global Metal directed by Scott Mcfayden (Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey). Demonic Resurrection not only represents India’s most popular metal band but an important dealer of extreme Indian metal. Lead singer Sahil “The Demonstealer” Makhija started the Demonstealer label which, until its demise in May of this year, was home to some of India’s most popular metal bands including Scribe, Albatross, Narsil, and Exhumation. Makhija is also the head of various side projects including Reptialian Death and his self-titled band Demonstealer. Demonic Ressurection is interesting for their well blended style of melodic blackened death. Excessive genres aside, the band’s sound is indicative to India’s preference for shared genres. With Demonic Ressurection, you have keyboards, harsh vocals, and indications of a phantom orchestra. I fail to see how one could not be excited.

Amogh Symphony (Mumbai) 2003 – Present

HOOOOLY SHIT. Technical metal always gets my Monday mornings started right. Amorgh Symphony recently broke out of the Indian heavy metal category into the tech metal arena with the 2009 release Abolishing The Obsolete System. With an album cover like that, it is hard to not remember. Amorgh Symphony is the work of Vishal J. Singh who, with the addition of various drummers, pummels through a dense world of mind melting tech instrumentals. Musicianship aside, this album is bonkers as shit. With the help of jazzy interludes, electronic back-beats, and occasional Hindi swagger, Amorgh Symphony is the craziest dish you could order from the menu which may or may not be still breathing. Jesus god don’t kill me.

Albatross (Mumbai) 2010 – Present

Do you remember when I called Amogh Symphony the craziest dish you could order from a restaurant? Well I may have spoken too soon. Albatross is the work of Riju Dasgupta, whose previous record in the parody metal outfit Workshop would only act as a catalyst to the screwball nightmare which would later surface. Albatross is a power metal band which hinges itself on vintage horror stories with an expressed love for King Diamond. Dinner For You received special treatment from King Diamond’s Andy LaRocque who acted as its producer. With all the right endorsements, Albatross made the weirdest EP to come out of India. This is also considering the other music India has made. Dinner For You is pretty damn catchy and serves as a definitive statement how weird Indian imagination can get.

Exhumation (Mumbai) 2005 – Present

While searching through lists of Indian heavy metal bands, I was surprised at the amount of death and thrash metal outfits. Perhaps death and thrash are a collective meeting point which transcends language and cultural barriers. Exhumation shares lineage with Demonic Resurrection and various other Indian heavy metal bands. Besides being featured on the Demonstealer label, most of the members played on Demonic Resurrection’s debut. With the past aside, Exhumation has become its own band and unlike its previous partner, plays a style of pure unadulterated death metal. Consider This is the band’s first full length record after 5 years of EPs and splits. Exhumation may not be initially satisfying yet their strong structure and consistent output is more than enough for attention. All hail the end of the world.

Gutslit (Mumbai) 2009 – Present

Fuck. I love Gutslit. Not just for their disgusting name but also their disgusting approach to metal. Gutslit embodies south Asia’s latent love for grindcore and brutal death metal. While the drumming is fast and guitar work menacing, some aficionados of metal cannot get past the deathcore influence in vocals. The standard pig squeal contrasted with the hardcore rasp may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I am sorry if Gutslit is not what you were looking for tonight. They are awesome. The name, the imagery, and the butchery is what I need for the evening. Gutslit to date has only released one split with French death metal act Pulmonary Fibrosis. The Contorted Mutilation split was released in 2009 and since then nothing has been heard from these guys. I hope this changes in the future.

Narsil (New Delhi) 2005 – 2006

We have arrived in New Delhi with Narsil. Narsil, for fellow fantasy enthusiasts, is the name of a legendary sword in Toklien’s middle earth. Narsil was the weapon used by Isildur, son of Elendil, to cut the ring from Sauron’s hand during the War Of The Last Alliance. Narsil, for Indian heavy metal enthusiasts, is also the name of a blistering death metal band from New Delhi. The band only produced one EP and one split before disbanding to other Indian heavy metal acts such as IIIred Sovereign and Acrid Semblance. The Carcinogenic EP, for all its 16 minutes, is a fine example of a great band who never got to make a proper LP. With just the right amount of chaotic death combined with hints of anchoring doom, Narsil is the greatest death metal band that almost was.

IIIrd Sovereign (New Delhi) 2006 – Present

In the ashes of Narsil comes IIIrd Sovereign. If you ever want to research this band further know their name is “3rd Sovereign” with roman numerals replacing the numeric symbol. Had I known this a week ago, I could have saved myself considerable time and fruitless internet searches. While this band’s recordings leave more to be desired, the structure of the music is nothing short of fantastic given the circumstances. Taking high energy thrash riffs and sending it on a date with low resonating death metal, this match is wonderful and packs a heavy punch. With that said, the actual releases by IIIrd Sovereign have been nothing of particular note or mention. However, the band’s penchant for irregular structure could amount to a high profile release in the future.

1833 AD (New Delhi) 2004 – Present

Previously, I mentioned the obvious majority of death, thrash, and progressive bands in the current Indian landscape. Indian black, doom, and power metal bands are still the minority in the current marketplace. This fact is not the reason why I enjoy 1833 AD, though it maybe the reason for me first taking interest. 1833 AD’s recreation of Norwegian black metal is so uncanny, they are perhaps not only worthy of comparison but strong enough to stand up against the majority of black metal acts. It is not a secret 1833 AD is completely infatuated with Scandinavian black metal. The band periodically covers Burzum in concert and the vocals from Nishant Abraham Varghese are strikingly similar to those of Emperor and Dissection. For all intents and purposes, 1833 AD is attempting to bring about the Nordic winter to the reasonably varied climate of India. At any other point, I would dismiss this blatant worship as an uncreative cop-out. 1833 AD however does not get the same judgment since their one and only 3 song demo is so fucking awesome.

Kryptos (Bangalore) 2004 – Present

Now we are getting into it. True Indian thrash! Descending further down the Indian grapevine we find Kryptos which is not as big as the previous entries but is nowhere underground. Much like Demonic Resurrection, Kryptos aligns themselves to no one genre but instead creates their own unique blend of thrash /death powered by the spirit of traditional heavy metal. The Ark Of Gemini is a great 2011 release and I’m sure their 2011 album The Coils of Apollyon is decent but I have yet to find it anywhere. Do not make me come to Bangalore to buy this. My wife hates traveling to other countries just to buy metal records.

Gruesome Malady (Bangalore) 2002 – 2005

It is only halfway through this band’s first song that one could look up and reflect on how far they have come in their metal education. “This is pretty good goregrind” you would think without realizing how many thresholds were passed to reach this point. Gruesome Malady isn’t extreme just for Indian heavy metal, it is fucking torture for anyone. Well, to be fair, this applies to everyone except for that one guy with the Waco Jesus shirt. The very fact that India has an established a grindcore scene shouldn’t be surprising as the whole of southeast Asia has really taken a liking to indecipherable forms of metal. Who invited that guy with the Waco Jesus shirt anyway?

Escher’s Knot (Chennai) 2010 – Present

And now we have reached our first and only entry which is not from the three major cities of New Delhi, Bangalore or Mumbai. Chennai is located in the state of Tamil Nadu which is only 335 km from the state of Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai. (About the distance between New York City and Washington DC). With such distance it is almost impossible to make any regional connections. Still though, Eschers Knot has crafted a wonderful blend of progressive death mixed with slight thrash which fits into the whole of Indian heavy metal. The Tessellation EP is the band’s only release as of date but stands as a strong opening move in terms of production and performance. Holy shit, maybe this country is worthy of more attention.

8 Responses about “Tape Wyrm XIII: New Wave of Indian Heavy Metal”

  • maggot says:

    err… maybe you should expand your search to scribe, bhayanak maut, undying inc, and soon to be the greatest tech prog outfit in the world – skyharbor. for some cheesy 2005 nu metal… look for joint family. would love to hear your negative comments about these losers (though they started this whole new trend of great production on indian albums) there are other bands out there like frequency but i havnt heard them so i cant reccommend.. but why dont you check em out. there are other rock n prog bands like indigo children and goddess gagged if yr interested. I like your post. its very informative.

  • Rushabh says:

    Heyy nice one but check the folling bands out also Aghor Andhakar, Artillerie, blood meridian, Brutal Agitation, Devoid, Eccentric Pendulum, Forsaken, Guillotine, Heathen Beast, Theorized…..

  • Demonstealer says:

    Just a small correction. IIIrd Sovereign started in 2003-2004 and we originally from Aizawl in the North East part of India. Kryptos have been around since 1999 actually.

  • I usually date bands around their first release but if a band corrects its own facts, then I’ll make an exception. Thank you for reading IIIrd Sovereign.

  • Big D says:

    I’m always on the lookout for new Metal bands so this was a pleasant surprise. Thanks for the heads-up on the Indian scene.

  • Vishal says:

    Hi man, Nice post, liked the way it is layered out.


  • MetalheadAnkan says:

    Hey, Eastern and North Eastern India has some awesome heavy metal bands too… You should expand your search to every nook and…

  • MetalheadAnkan says:

    Hey, Eastern and North Eastern India has some awesome heavy metal bands too… You should expand your search to every nook and corner of India.