In the context of Bangalore metal, it’s fantastic to see a good number of organizers (and by extension, venues), both veterans who’ve gained a certain adeptness of the logistical intricacies of such club gigs, and newer organizers, who continue to strive towards the invigoration of the scene by hosting such concerts. The past few months have once again seen a fair number of local club-gigs, adding to the ultimately sprightly nature and effervescence of the scene, while revealing many shortcomings that take away from it being deemed wholly vibrant, other than the grimmer side of things such as petty politics, which truly hurts the growth of this niche type of music and the fans, more than anything. Coming to Echoes from Beneath in specific, the first edition was arguably one of the most memorable concerts that has taken place in the city, with two absolutely fantastic foreign (Sri Lankan) acts (alongside a slew of solid support bands) – the first, the headliner, the mighty Genocide Shrines, who played a style reminiscent of the likes of Teitanblood, Archgoat, Blasphemy and Proclamation, blending the most primal and chaotic elements of both black and death metal; and the other, Manifestator, who played a chunky, fun brand of blackened thrash/speed metal laden with perverseness and capriciousness. This second edition, exactly two months after the goliathan first edition, once again took place at the No Limmits bar & restaurant, and as ever the central nature of its location, in addition to the fact that it had hosted a slew of club gigs prior to this made it the obvious choice for the venue of this club gig, and seems to have won its place as a venue staple for shows of this nature. While the show was originally scheduled to start at 4:50 PM, sound check extended until 5:15 PM, but there’s little to complain about such a minor delay.
After a minor sound check, Renegade began their set. The band presented a blend of heavy and thrash metal, which was also reflected in their choice of covers; with audible groove metal elements, evident in the percussive interplay and riff phrasings in some of the slower, more groove-laden passages. The band played around with the idea of building a certain anticipation in these aforementioned slower segments that laid back upon simple grooves, serving to build tension to a given successive segment that would be faster and more velocity-driven, ultimately being conducive to moshing. The frontman and vocalist Jeffrin Mario knew just the right things to say in order to raise the adrenaline levels of the crowd and commanded mosh-pits one after another, and his engaging style of audience interaction was perhaps the primary motivator of the incredibly enthusiastic crowd response. The vocal quality itself was aggressive with an inferable sense of tune amidst the aggressive overtones of the same, while the guitars (and the bass work) had a ear for simplistic precision without being overtly technical. Drummer Anthony was appropriately paced as per the tempos established by the guitars, and had a good number of enjoyable fills that added to the percussive dynamics, and by extension, the energetic nature of their music. There is, however, certainly space for improvisation of their own compositions and the band could incorporate more hooks and catchy elements to improve their memorability value in general, as the type of music they play calls for the same.
Renegade’s setlist –
1. Mr. Crowley (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
2. Unholy Insurrection
5. Mechanix (Megadeth cover)
6. Evil Eyes
7. Am I Evil? (Diamond Head cover)
Renegade was followed by Gaia’s Throne, a power/heavy metal quintet from Pune. Having played last year around the same time at New Year’s Riffolution, the band played an excellent blend of power and traditional metal with obvious nods to a more neo-classical style of guitar playing. The nature and progression of their compositions itself were evocative of the ambitious and eclectic nature of the broader spectrum of progressive metal. The vocal quality of frontman Sidharth Raveendran was for the most part operatic, with a tendency to descend into a falsetto that added to the depth of the vocal department, with occasional, chant-like parts. Unfortunately the vocals were a little low in the mix, which was unfortunate, but soon picked up at the end of their set. The guitars were a whole-hearted exaltation to the traditional heavy metal side of things with obvious borrowings from the Yngwie Malmsteen school of guitar, with some very intricate licks. The bass-lines were simplistic and served as sturdy backbones for the dynamic riffage. The drumming didn’t particularly usher in structural shifts, but was adroit by itself. One aspect of the band that I absolutely love is the incorporation of these very strategic pauses, which, depending on the song, add to either the build up of tension or help to build a subtle groove within the song. In essence, the band essentially presents a very catchy brand of heavy metal with an aesthetic driven by tasteful melodicity, further complimented by their off-beat sci-fi themes. While the band themselves didn’t seem quite satisfied with their performance, apart from the lack of prominence of the vocals in the mix, I thought these Pune boys were absolutely fantastic. I wish the crowd had been slightly more enthusiastic and receptive to the band, but I fear a giant chunk of the crowd didn't quite understand the stylistic leanings of the band enough to enjoy it. Their covers were excellent as well, and the Survivor cover, as in last time, didn’t seem out of place at all.
Gaia’s Throne’s setlist –
1. Thus Spake Zarathustra (Intro)
5. Electric Eye (Judas Priest cover)
6. Gaia’s Throne
7. Eye of the Tiger (Survivor cover)
Next up were Perforated Limb, the local brutal death metal sensations, best known for being permanent fixtures of sorts of the Undergrind series of grindcore/extreme metal-oriented gigs. Invoking the likes of primary and obvious influences such as Suffocation, Dying Fetus and Cannibal Corpse, and other audible influences such as Deivos, Trauma or perhaps even Guttural Secrete, the band put up perhaps the most unhinged performance of the night. The sound was absolutely perfect during their set, with all the instruments clearly working in coherence with each other as opposed to one dominating the other. The guttural vocals, itself quite diverse, with hoarse growls and pig squeals in ample amounts, changed with and ushered in the trend within a given compositional structure, with the riffs in turn relying on recursion in order to reinforce the riff phrasing, plodding and chugging at most times with the faster segments comprising of grinding power chords slicing through the listeners’ ears with pinch harmonics brining finality to the bar within the riff idea. Quite obviously, clinical yet enjoyable in the context of the greater brutal death metal realm. The standout of their set was the maniacal drumming of Shreyas Kamath, showcasing an unrelenting knack for all things blasting, and was perhaps the vector and focal point of the band’s performance as a whole. Their set even saw a fan attempting to stage dive, only to have met with a mishap and in turn breaking his collar bone! That alone should reflect how absolutely savage their set was.
Perforated Limb’s setlist –
1. Deranged Art of Sodomy
2. Confessions of a Deformed Slut
3. Conscipicuous Sores
4. Maggots in your Flesh (Dead Infection cover)
5. Of Human Concoctions
6. Poisoned on Fetal Rectal Discharge.
A short sound-check session was followed by local old school death metallers Dhwesha taking stage. The band, who are slated to release their debut studio album, titled 'Stoopa' via Dunkelheit Productions in 2014, played the majority of the tracks off of this forthcoming release. Still devoid of a bassist, the band put up a performance that was nothing short of stellar. The band’s music is quite obviously driven by the percussive interplay of the drums and the guitars, marching forward within a composition with battering riffs that are both straightforward and an excellent sonic conceptualization of the themes being dealt with, often related to regional mythology and the traditional concept and ethos of war, among others. The riffs itself are quite percussive in nature, not unlike the band’s primary influence, Bolt Thrower, holding rhythmic definitiveness even within such a mould. On the flipside, their sense of melody was a wholehearted nod to the likes of Desultory and even perhaps Eucharist, making for a melancholic and baleful mood within their compositions while still being emotionally evocative. However, I do feel that the band could engage in more crowd interaction, and if not that, incorporate some sort of theatrical elements to reinforce their themes, perhaps.
Dhwesha’s setlist –
1. Sattva Bali
4. Ugra Narasimha
5. Hoy! Sala
6. Kapala Haara
Soon, the venue was engulfed by the ominous intro, Pazuzu, the iconic composition by Ennio Morricone from Exorcist II: The Heretic, which set the tone for the performance of the primitive doom/death masters, Dying Embrace. The focal point of the band, as ever, was Jimmy Palkhivala’s free flowing, yet technically intricate guitar work, lead by simplistic, power-chord driven dirges – these are not as ‘messy’ sounding as say, one of the band’s primary influences, Autopsy, but instead sound slightly sharper due to their ear for laconic simplicity. One may observe both dissonance, atonality and a elegant sense of melody in the lead parts, not descending into cheesy territory while not wholly devoid of melodicity amidst the trudging nature of the riffs. Unlike many death/doom bands, which lean back upon a consistent pacing in a given track, Dying Embrace showcases a fair bit of tempo-shifts, juxtaposing doomy passages with more upbeat segments, and this works wonders especially in a live setting. This affects the nature of the percussive department as well – while the drumming in this type of music rarely has to execute structural shifts, the pacing of the drums here are rarely monotonous. Again, this adds to the invigorating nature in a live setting, and isn’t all about the doom and gloom. Vikram Bhat’s capabilities as a frontman were on full display as ever, and although I felt the vocals had a susceptibility to weaken at times from its usual murky texture during the vocal extensions of the growls, the band’s performance was as solid as ever.
Dying Embrace’s setlist –
1. Pazuzu [Intro] (from Exorcist II: The Heretic)
2. The Ascendance Of Namtar
3. As Eternity Fades
4. Grotesque Entity
5. From The Sea He Rises [Intro] (Spoken word dialogue from The Omen)
6. Dagda : His His Time Has Come
7. Horns Of The Divine
8. Spawn Of The Depths
9. The Passing Away
10. Bass and Drums jam (feat. Jai ‘Sarge’ Kumar and Deepak Raghu)
11. Oremus Diabolum
After an extended sound-check that built up much anticipation and restlessness in the audience, the headliners of the event finally took stage – Kryptos, who were celebrating 15 years of existence, unleashed their brand of old school heavy metal upon the attendees. Playing a blend of melody-laden traditional heavy metal with thrash metal influences serving as the propeller of their compositions, the band’s formula works wonders in a live setting. The natures of the songs are anthemic and warrant both crowd interaction and participation, and in structural complexity are rather simplistic and embedded with melody, and are not overtly layered. This serves to increase the ease of the sing-along value of the riffs and the vocal hooks, and ultimately invokes the stadium crowd-inducing nature of heavy metal, combined with the nihilistic aggression of 80’s thrash metal. Unlike traditional thrash metal bands that rely on running strum patterns that ultimately produce a rhythmic atmosphere, Kryptos’ riff ideas ultimately produces a melodic aesthetic in its cadences. One could see a giant chunk of the crowd actively singing along in the choruses and riffs, which attests to the same. Frontman, vocalist and guitarist Nolan Lewis’ crowd interaction was endearing as ever, while the new members Ganesh Krishnaswamy (a founding member of the band) and Anthony Hoover’s performances on the bass and drum duties respectively was satisfactory. Ganesh even provided vocal duties for Satyr Like Face, a track recorded during his stint as the bassist/vocalist in his previous tenure in the band. One of the standout aspects of their set was a bunch of German visitors at the gig holding up a giant cloth sign that read ‘Kryptos Disciples, A’Burg Germany’. The only shortcoming however, was the fact that the lead guitars had a tendency to be lower than the rest of the instruments in the mix, and this fluctuated greatly. Apart from all this, the lineup change seems to have made little difference to their competence as a live band, and really hasn’t added anything new or unpredictable, and one could view this as consistency, while others may well be yearning for something less formulaic in a live setting.
Kryptos’ setlist –
2. Nexus Legion
4. Serpent Mage
5. Satyr Like Face
6. Visions of Dis
8. The Coils of Apollyon
9. Order of the DNA
10. The Mask of Anubis
11. Descension (feat. Bharad Ravi of Witchgoat on vocals)
All in all, Echoes from Beneath II was quite simply put, a lot of fun. A diverse line-up with stylistically divergent bands made for variety and dispelled any notions of monotony during the evening, and one found themselves enraptured throughout. All the bands put up solid performances in their own right, with minor shortcomings in individual sets as already elaborated above, but this was for the most part negligible in retrospect. The venue as ever was easily accessible with good parking facilities, and the affordable ticket price (₹ 500 early bird/₹ 700 at the gates with a free beer along with the pass) was also yet another bonus. The merchandise stall also bore quite a lot of interesting merchandise, tapes, posters, patches, CDs and t-shirts. The food and drink prices were fairly reasonable by the venue’s standards as well, and were especially customized to suit the needs of the night’s event and its attendees. The turnout was a solid 225 people, even more than the first edition of Echoes from Beneath. Yet another evening well spent, and the Bangalore Doom Syndicate sure as hell knows how to organize a good gig. Lastly, we are grateful to Danish R.D of Danz Photography for letting us use his stellar pictures and for collaborating with the webizine (click here for the full set of pictures).