For Those About to Squawk: Waldo’s Pecks of the Week

By: andrew Posted in: a fucking parrot previewing new releases, featured On: Friday, September 6th, 2013

forthoseabouttosquawk_2013aug30

It’s been awhile, so let’s get into it, shall we?

GORGUTS are back at it with Colored Sands, and lemme tell ya, it’s REALLY good. All the elements are there: death metal, tech metal, and there are some downright pretty moments. I mean, one can’t really touch some of the older chapters of this legendary band, but this thing moves, it shifts. Not only does it not sound like a pale facsimile of themselves, but LeMay’s compositions really stand out. The performances on this are phenomenal, not that one wouldn’t expect that with Marston, Hufnagel and Longstreth holding it all down. This is spacious and dense at the same time, and the production is slick, but it really lends to the overall feel of this record. The riffs are light and proggy, but when they dig in, they really dig in. Fans of this band will be thrilled, and there will be a ton of new fans to follow suit. The one thing that really leaves me scratching my beak here is the lyrical theme, which is tight, but I’m not too sure what’s going on. I mean, I get that it’s a comment on Tibetan culture, but this birdbrain is not too sure what that means. Although, that’s not really their fault, is it? 8 Fucking Pecks.

MINISTRY From Beer to Eternity: I’m just going to review this one without even listening to it. Hey, remember The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste? Or The Land of Rape and Honey? Or even Twitch? Those were great records. Again, I haven’t heard this one, but it’s a disappointment. But hey, that’s cool: Jourgensen is doing his thing, and that’s pretty admirable. You know the deal: samples (yech), drum machine, buzzsaw guitars and processed vocals. It’s okay for a record I’ve never even heard. Horrible title, though. 5 Fucking Pecks.

I’d like to talk about the passing of a dear friend on August 23: Joey LaCaze, better known as the drummer for the legendary EyeHateGod. A lot of drummers can’t play in the pocket like Joey did, and he was a great guy to be around, always having a good time and trying to make you laugh. Our regards to the boys in EHG. RIP to an all-around great guy and amazing talent. (EyeHate)Godspeed, my man.

‘Til next time, Waldo out, squawk.

NFL PREVIEW 2013: Tommy Victor (Prong) on the NY Jets

By: andrew Posted in: featured, nfl 2013 On: Friday, September 6th, 2013

tommy prong

Yeah yeah yeah, the J-E-T-S, JETS! JETS! JETS! are the joke of the NFL media world. The silly, lap-banded, foot-fetishizing head coach with his man-boy crush on a crappy, metrosexual Rico Suave-like quarterback headline the comedy. Enter the new, Jay-Z-managed, prima donna quarterback, “fighting” for the starting job, adding a considerable amount to the drama. Yes, Rex Ryan blunders again and again with his QB situation. Showing off his new smaller gut by turning sideways to the media at a recent postgame press conference, his ridiculous braggadocio again emerged like his old belly, with his big mouth in rare form. Adding injury to more injury, he jeopardized what apparently was the only choice, at that time, for the starting QB (the love of his life, Mark Sanchez) by placing him behind a third-string offensive line in the fourth quarter of a meaningless preseason game.

But look: something good came out of this! In essence of the original kelly green Jet color, a surprise! A Luck of the Irish quarterback, the son of a New York Giants great. Matt Simms, the undrafted spawn of Phil Simms, looked great in replacement of the sketchy Sanchez. In most folks’ opinion, he looked a lot better than the questionable big money NY Post back page draft pick Geno Smith. But, of course, the Jets, under egocentric Rex, won’t start him, because Rex “doesn’t have to answer” to anybody (body faced sideways like Jackie Gleason talking to Audrey Meadows).

Despite all of this, I think the Jets have some victories to look forward to this season. Sheldon Richardson seems to be a great draft pick at DT, adding to a pretty badass defensive line. Look for Antonio Cromartie to fill Revis Island. First round pick Dee Milliner at the other corner may be raw, but he may provide the right attitude to keep the Jets D respectable. I’m also excited about the the safety corps of Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry. The D is going to be fine.

Back to the O. What Geno can do remains to be seen. I really hope that Sanchez is out of the picture, but if he isn’t, he’ll be able to run new coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s scheme. There’s Pro Bowl talent on the line. They got some very promising TEs in Jeff Cumberland and Konrad Reuland and veteran Kellen Winslow. Maybe Chris Ivory can be a power at RB? Maybe Santonio Holmes can return in form.

I think the Bills are awful. The Dolphins are getting to be overrated already. It’s not the same ol’ Pats anymore. Can we take the division? At least 8-8. Why am I so positive when it comes to the J-E-T-S, JETS! JETS! JETS!?

Skeletonwitch Studio Video

By: Dan Lake Posted in: featured, videos On: Friday, September 6th, 2013

skwitch2

Anybody heard of “Kurt Ballou”?  The hairy dudes in this video here keep referring to him as if he’s well known or somehow important, even relevant (!) to the current music scene.  Weird.  He twiddles knobs, people.  It’s not like he’s some badass guitar player or (ha!) songwriter in a legendary metallic hardcore band.  Let’s keep things in perspective, shall we?  And has he even been behind the board for anything you can actually name?

Check out Part 1 of an in-studio documentary series starring Skeletonwitch getting all gushy about the extra oomph that Ballou gave to their new album, Serpents Unleashed, due out on October 29.  Give the vid a looksee, get pumped for some scathing new Skeletonwitch, and find out about Ballou’s true canine identity.

BREWTAL TRUTH: Drink This Now!

By: adem Posted in: featured, liver failure On: Friday, September 6th, 2013

IPAISDEAD

Given the opportunity to write about craft beer every month in Decibel has been eye-opening. The idea that our “Brewtal Truth” column would have lasted more than four years (and counting) and even spawn a book—The Brewtal Truth Guide to Extreme Beers, out in November—is pretty amazing. Now it’s time to bring a little “Brewtal Truth” to the Deciblog. Each week we’re featuring a different craft beer that you should drink now. These aren’t so much reviews as recommendations. We won’t post anything here that we haven’t happily poured down our own gullet. There’ll be a new one every week at noon Eastern time, a little something to get you thinking about your imbibing options for the weekend.

This week’s post is both a lesson in drinking a hoppy beer when it’s fresh (or, rather, the consequences of not doing so), as well as a look at the pros and cons of single-hop variety beers. And we’re going to do all that with one little “IPA is Dead” four-pack from Scotland’s BrewDog. We previously wrote about BrewDog in our Brewtal Truth column back in the April 2012 issue. The brewery is famously known for its love of hops and its irreverent attitude toward craft beer. They’re the ones who made—among other freaky, extreme brews—the super strong End of History beer, which was sold in bottles that were stuffed in roadkill. Starting to ring a bell? Not everything they do is extreme, but most of it has a big hop component, because, as they say, “We bloody love hops.”

BrewDog head brewer, Stuart Bowman.

BrewDog head brewer, Stuart Bowman.

IPA IS DEAD: DANA, EL DORADO, GOLDING, WAIMEA
IPA
BrewDog
Ellon, Scotland
6.7% ABV

The concept behind IPA is Dead is a clever one. BrewDog takes the same IPA recipe and brews four versions, each with a different hop variety from a different hop-growing region, thus the strange names above: Waimea (New Zealand) , El Dorado (Pacific Northwest), Dana (Slovenia) and Goldings (England). This offers the perfect opportunity for hopheads to not only see the distinctive flavors each variety has to offer, it allows you to compare and contrast aromatics, bitterness levels and general mouthfeel from beer to beer. Sounds awesome, right?

Well, we’re sure it probably would have been more awesome when these beers were released back in early April (a fact we didn’t know when we purchased this four-pack recently). The “drink by” date of sometime in 2014 (we forgot to note the specific date before recycling) on the packaging is probably a bit too generous. These four-packs made their way to Western Canada nearly five months after they were bottled and let’s just say they aren’t showing their best this far along in their journey. They aren’t bad, but the ability to really distinguish the characteristics of the hop varieties used here has been greatly diminished. They taste like decent, if generally unremarkable, IPAs. None has much in the way of distinctive aromatics, and considering they are packed with 75 IBUs, the hop presence should be significant.

The El Dorado and Waimea are the most noteworthy and tasty of the foursome. El Dorado is a new NW variety and it has a fair bit of ripe, floral tropical fruit aromatics. It tasted oddly boozy and had notes of plum, orange and fruit candy. There’s a dull bitterness on finish that lingers for a bit. Waimea was the most intriguing. Aromatically it has that bit of funk (almost like overripe fruit and/or flowers) that is characteristic of some NZ hops. It tastes of fresh tart fruits (grapefruit, mandarin, strawberry, melon) and has a strong bitterness with an earthy, black tea finish. Dana was just sort of confusing. It had an indefinable fruit and spice character to it that just came off as unremarkable. It was mildly bitter, it lacked crispness and drinks more like a pale ale. Not bad, just meh. Similar results with Goldings. There were hints of the qualities that make it a brewing favorite—faint aromas of lemon and earth; light spice and fruit flavors; a deep earthy bitterness—but it was more “interesting” than “delicious.”

Which brings us to the final point: there’s a reason why most brewers use a combination of hop varieties in each beer. Some are better for bittering, some for dry-hopping, etc. And certain combinations just smell and taste really good together, as they each bring a little something to a beer. These IPA is Dead brews are interesting (and probably pretty tasty when consumed super fresh), but they also highlight (no doubt unintentionally) the fact that a single hop variety doesn’t typically have enough of everything necessary to make a great beer on its own.

In metal terms, a Venom album will always be way better than any Cronos solo jams. Witness.

EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Akris “Row of Lights”

By: Shawn Macomber Posted in: featured, listen On: Friday, September 6th, 2013

Akris

Decibel invites you to start your weekend off right with this exclusive slab of epic, filthy-yet-strangely-beguiling sludge noise perfection from Virginia’s own Akris. The song, “Row of Lights,” is off the band’s forthcoming full-length debut on Domestic Genocide Records. For further information visit Akris’ official website and/or friend them on Facebook.

532150_10150965145162914_924191950_n

From Hell: the Interview From Hell

By: kevin.stewart-panko Posted in: featured, interviews On: Thursday, September 5th, 2013

deciblog - from hell logo

OK, maybe not quite, though if you do this long enough chances are you’ll be on both ends of hellish interviews. Thankfully, the only thing really wrong with this particular chin wag with From Hell is that it’s been sitting on the back burner for a while, so it may seem more general and vague than current and specific. Like, there’s no mention of the band’s recent playing of D-beat hotbed, Costa Rica as this was conducted long before that even happened.
These Detroit-based thrashing gothic D-beat warriors were originally introduced to y’all back in the spring courtesy one of the English gentlemen who work around here, Jonathan Horsley. Go here to check it out and give ‘em a listen.
This week, we give the band, specifically vocalist Chris Zomerfeld, the chance to speak their peace/piece on a bunch of topics you’d expect an extreme music website to ask of an extreme music band, including their debut album, Heresy. Take ‘er away…

deciblog - heresy cover

Ok, let’s get the boring shit out of the way: band history. Every band has history; most stories are boring as shit. Is yours?
Most would describe as the exact opposite. Surprisingly, we manage to function, but each member of the band is their own brand of fucking terrible mess. Whether its getting banned from a frat house that does shows around here for burning a giant cross indoors (completely retarded, yes we know), or tearing up a giant antique bible at a big christmas show and covering the whole venue with it, we try to make every show/tour as fun and stupid as possible. Cliff jumping, sneaking around zoos after they’re closed, staying in abandoned ghost towns, partying, getting into shit basically anywhere we can find it. If you’re not having fun, why would you do it? As far as issues/members/all that, that’s a whole different long story…

As I’ve been informed, many of the themes and concepts explored by From Hell have to do with macabre horror. In what way? Are you speaking of realistic horror, cinematic horror or both?
Moreso realistic horror, I write mostly from personal experience or feelings.. being where we’re from there’s always plenty of horror to be witnessed first hand. We are all huge cinematic horror fans too, so that plays heavily into the portrayal of those ideas, or the description of those feelings.

Apparently, there’s a tie-in between your moniker and the historical Jack the Ripper figure. How so?
From Hell is the name of the infamous letter written by Jack The Ripper that was received by the London police with one of Jack’s victim’s kidneys. With our delivery, artwork, music, and dark lyrical undertones the name seemed perfectly fitting.

Tell us about the writing and recording of Heresy.
Me and our guitar player went through a handful of different people we know that are all very musically talented, and have played in a bunch of different bands (See You Next Tuesday, Fireworks, This Time Next Year, Set Your Goals, Tyrant, …) practiced with different people, and picked who we thought best fit for writing. We started writing and spent a good amount of time perfecting the songs, we picked the studio we thought could accomplish what we wanted best, went to Chicago and finished the recording in a little over a weekend. It took me over 6 months to finish the vocals, because i’m a terrible person to be in a band with. We actually recorded the violin and piano tracks at our house with equipment we have, and our piano.

I see that you haven’t had a lot of studio experience (as From Hell, anyway) pre-Hersey. How much time had you spent in studios/recording in bands before From Hell? Was there a stated goal amongst band members about what you wanted to accomplish with this first full length?
Yeah, before Heresy From Hell had just recorded a demo in a couple of days in our friend’s studio, no real studio time. With the different members of the band we’ve had probably hundreds of hours in the studio on other projects. Our only goal was just to make a very heavy sounding, creative, very cohesive project that we all were very happy with in the end.

Enlighten us on the spoken word stuff that’s weaved throughout the album. Where did it come from, who’s voice is it and what’s the significance and association of it to the music/lyrics?
The track on the intro is an interview with Richard Kuklinski, the notorious serial killer/hitman that had allegedly killed over 100 people, that ties into the whole serial killer/macabre theme of the band. The interlude track “Crucifix in a Death Hand” is the poet Charles Bukowski reading one of his darker/more depressing poems, which ties into the more dark lyrics about depression and suicide on the record. Also both of their monotone lifeless voices flow perfectly over the slow dark music.

From the outside looking in, it’s easy for people to look at Detroit and say, “Of course the city has influenced them” when speaking of any extreme music band. From your perspective, how much and how has your home influenced what you do?
It has had very heavy influence.. A few of our members grew up dirt poor, and we’ve all been affected by our surroundings whether it’s family members losing their jobs, friends dying, getting robbed, raped, killed, molested… people suffering, people bringing suffering. I grew up in a two-bedroom trailer with my dad’s friend (until he overdosed on heroin and died), and a family of five. I had friend’s that were raped by their fathers, beaten, starved.. when you’re surrounded by that everyday, you don’t have a choice but to have it influence every part of you. With what I do for work I am at Linwood and Joy rd. area (the most dangerous neighborhood in the country) all the time, you see a lot of fucked up stuff in this city.

How did you hook up with Paper + Plastick Records?
We actually went about it with sort of an unorthodox approach. We figured the best way to get the attention of anyone worth our time was to write the whole record, record it, then find someone to release it. We recorded the whole album, had it mixed, then sent it over. We had a few of our friends put in a good word for us, and when they heard it he immediately hit us back and said he wanted to put it out. We’re very happy about everything they’ve done for us so far.

What’s the who/what/where/why/how behind you using your blood to paint the album covers?
We wanted to do something cool/original with the album to get people’s attention. We did some brainstorming and ran over quite a few ideas that ranged from religious, human, animal, and occult stuff, and some other more out there ideas (some, the pressing plant wanted nothing to do with). The From Hell letter mentioned earlier was penned in blood, so we thought it would be cool to tie ourselves personally to the record by screening the sleeves with our blood. We got some syringes together, went to a friend’s house, and got ourselves some blood! haha

Coming from the d-beat/powerviolence/punk/hardcore world as you do, what do you feel sets From Hell apart from the pack of bands hailing from the same genre? Who do you feel your musical peers are? My guess would be bands like Agrimonia, Unkind and Wartorn, but that’s just me.
We mesh many different genres together, we dont really fit in any specific genre, if you heard all the things we’ve been described as you’d probably laugh. We have elements of metal, punk, thrash, d-beat, hardcore, and even gothic rock/indie influenced stuff. We have acoustic guitar, pianos, violin, and all kinds of weird stuff incorporated, and we do our best to make all the different elements mesh properly. As far as our musical peers, I can see those comparisons.. I would say bands like Negative Approach, Toxic Narcotic, His Hero Is Gone, Dropdead, Poison Idea, Crowbar?

deciblog - FromHell_JoshGroul-572x381
Pic: Josh Groul

Check ‘em out on the interhole here and here

NFL PREVIEW 2013: Erik Rutan on the Philadelphia Eagles

By: andrew Posted in: featured, nfl 2013 On: Thursday, September 5th, 2013

ERIK RUTAN 2012 EAGLES

So, here we are: another year, another season, a new regime. First of all, I want to say that after 14 years of the Andy Reid era, I am quite excited for a new coach. Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing but the utmost respect for Andy, and I thank him for the five NFC Championship Games and the Super Bowl visit, and for changing the vibe and bringing in a winning mentality to Philly after many many years of sub-par seasons, but it was a change long overdue.

I am very glad that they made a move to get Chip Kelly. Kelly I believe is a visionary of sorts when it comes to football. When you have someone like Bill Belichick giving props to Kelly and trying to integrate his offense into the Patriots, you know you’re getting one hell of a coach. Lots of people say “It wont translate to the NFL; college coaches never succeed; look at Steve Spurrier or Nick Saban,” but rather than ponder those failures, I look at the guys that succeeded, like Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh. I for one am of the belief that Kelly will possibly change how all offenses are run. Being the former coach of the Oregon Ducks, he comes in with a high-octane, hurry-up offense and a completely different mentality. A big part of it is the spread offense and lots of running the ball, and when you have LeSean McCoy, supported by Bryce Brown and Chris Polk, you’re damn right we need to run the ball. I was always amazed that we would not run the ball more with one of the elite running backs in the game.

Somehow I knew Vick would win the QB competition. He always performs best when his back is against the wall, and I think the Eagles made the right choice. Our offensive line is back on track, with Jason Peters back from season-ending injury; and the addition of first-rounder Lane Johnson truly solidifies the line. We will miss Jeremy Maclin (out with a torn ACL), no doubt about it, but it is time for others to step up, and I know DeSean Jackson is gonna have a huge year.

On the defensive side, there’s a lot of work to do. The switch to a 3-4 defense is a little shocking to me considering a big part of our roster plays best under a 4-3 system, but I guess it was time to shake it up. Our defense has been horrible for the past few years. We need to step up and bring back the attitude, the intensity. We have so many new players on D, and I know it will take time to gel; let’s just hope our offense scores so many points that we won’t have to rely too much on our defense to win games.

In a way, it’s nice to not have super-high expectations. Let’s face it: This is a rebuilding year. I am OK with that because change is good, change is optimism, change is for the best.In my lifetime, I only hope someday my dream of being at the Super Bowl and watching my Eagles win the Lombardi Trophy comes to fruition. As I see it, dreams can come true. The Eagles can win the big one, but in time, in due time. This year, I am hoping for a 9-7 or 8-8 season, but looking at our tough schedule, logic dictates that 5-11 or 6-10 might be more like it. The Eagles and Chip Kelly get a pass this year, but that type of patience will not last long in the City of Brotherly Love.

FLY EAGLES FLY, ON THE ROAD TO VICTORY!!! E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!

TRACK PREMIERE: Bloody Hammers’ “At the Well of Nazareth”

By: Jeff Treppel Posted in: featured, listen On: Thursday, September 5th, 2013

bloody hammers

Bloody Hammers obviously have an awesome name, but that Master of Reality-style logo they have (along with the pentagram and naked chick on the cover) may make you think that they’re yet another of the 70s throwback bands that Rise Above keep putting out. Nope! These guys definitely have some pretty black Sabbath running through their veins, but Spiritual Relics finds inspiration a good quarter-century after the album whose font they’ve borrowed. As “At the Well of Nazareth” demonstrates, their true heart lies in the creepy-stalker-and-drug-overdose death rock of Acid Bath. It’s a pretty good indication of what the rest sounds like, although it’s one of the less less skin-crawling tracks. Check out our exclusive premiere below, and then grab the full thing when it comes out in early October.

***Spiritual Relics comes out on Soulseller in October. Check out their Facebook here and preorder the album here.

STREAMING: Persekutor’s “Power Frost”

By: nick.green Posted in: featured, interviews, listen On: Thursday, September 5th, 2013

faces-meth

IMGP2935_lores

Romanian black metal trio Persekutor’s Angels of Meth was the best album nobody heard in 2006, an anger brownie with hatred frosting. Unfortunately, a protracted legal dispute between the band and its former label Thousand Year Reich over rights to the masters has cast an official stateside release in doubt, and the only official copy is rumored to be in the “unfiled” section of Fenriz’s vast demo archives.

But the past is the past, and Persekutor is the future. Decibel is happy to provide an exclusive stream of “Power Frost,” the A side from the band’s upcoming “Power Frost” 7”. Magic Bullet Records will release the single on November 29, 2013 — learn more on the band’s Facebook page.

Check out the song below, a sly nod to Pure Holocaust-era Immortal. A short interview with guitarist and vocalist Vlad the Inhaler follows.

You and longtime bassist Ion “Iron Slasher” Slăsescu both make your living tending to goats in Romania. How is the goat herding business after the last major outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in nearby Bulgaria in 2011?

Hoof in mouth is serious problem. Trying to pull foot out of mouth, might hurt goat. Leave foot in mouth, goat starve. Is same in Bulgaria we assuming. But we are hearing Bulgaria goat have extra mouth in back with no teeth so maybe not big problem for them. Will be asking fans on next Bulgaria tour.

When we last checked in, your drummer Kutná Whora had been kicked out of the band and replaced with a series of session musicians. This 7″ marks the debut of drummer Doktor Impossible. What’s his story?

Kutná Whora not kicked out. This is Internet rumor spread by teenage masturbation club on heavy metal message board. Yes. True story is Kutná Whora leave PERSEKUTOR to join Jandarmeria Română. This is military police of Romania. Like Russian army but less sodomy.

Doktor Impossible is a machine. Literally, he is machine. We name him Doktor Impossible after Sisters Of Mercy drummer Doktor Avalanche. But is very possible to have real human drummer on next release! Are talking to famous US and A drummer about possibility, he is into it. Not Tony Laureano, too expensive.

How did you end up on the same label as Charles Manson?

Charlie is big time PERSEKUTOR fan from Angels Of Meth days. He try to text us from secret mobile phone under prison mattress but we are not havings mobile phones so did not receive. Then he is mailing us drawing of big cock with swastika on it, say this is self-portrait 2010. We try to ask if he meaning this is self-portrait of penis, or if penis is supposings to be him. The shaft is saying “PIGGY” but Iron Slasher change to “PERSEKUTOR,” put on wall in practice barn. Looking good there next to naked photografications of Aletta Ocean and Black Angelika.

Your rivals Negură Bunget released a special edition of their last record in a hand-crafted box with a rope and actual soil from Transylvania. How can you top that?

This band is traitors. Givings away of Transylvanian soil is same as giving away secret location of Jandarmeria Română sodomy tent. I have idea what they can do with rope.

Outgoing Romanian president Traian Băsescu has served two full terms and is ineligible for reelection in 2014. Will a shift in political power positively affect the climate for black metal in Romania, and what impact might it have on your longstanding legal battle with your former label Thousand Year Reich?

All politicians is big fat liars. You are US and A journalist so you are knowing this situation already. Yes. Băsescu suspending by Romania parliament of 2007 for corruptive purposes. Votings of impeachment happening like Bill Clinton, but Băsescu not even getting mouth sex from Monica Blewinsky. No big surprising—Romanian people know he is pig same like other pigs but voting for him anyway. Cannot speakings about Thousand Year Reich as usuals, but WE are making the climate for Romanian black metal. Always WE, no other persons. After goats is feeding, climate is right.

Metal India: An Interview With Demonstealer Records

By: justin.m.norton Posted in: featured, interviews On: Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

Demonstealer-Drums

Metal has always been a global phenomenon. However, one of the communities we don’t hear too much about outside of some fine work by filmmaker Sam Dunn is India.

Decibel wanted to get a closer look at what’s going on in India and how globalization and cultural shifts are shaping metal music there. We had the opportunity to talk to Sahil Makhija of Demonstealer Records to get the skinny on what’s going on with our metal bretheren and the challenges of running a label and touring in a country of 1.2 billion. Make sure you check out Demonstealer’s catalog and connect with them on Facebook.

How did you get interested in metal?

When I was 13 or so I was given some Iron Maiden and Metallica by friends who said I should listen to it instead of pop and techno. Once I had experienced the music I went deeper and deeper and I got into much heavier stuff. It came to a point where the same friends who introduced me to metal thought I was listening to noise.

Where do you live? What is it like?

I live in Mumbai, which is a crazy place. It is like New York but dirtier and with way more poverty and lots of rude, obnoxious people. It is, however, a city quite unlike any other. India is a huge country and Mumbai is the commercial hub. It’s also probably the most important city for metal in India along with Bangalore (another Indian city). The history of India and the city is quite vast but the best way to truly understand or experience it is to visit.

What is the metal scene like in India?

Would you believe that we’ve had metal bands in our country as long ago as the 1980s (and possibly the 70s as well)? The scene in India is more or less undocumented from the early days but there were bands in the 80s playing metal. The only one that is remembered is Millennium who started out in 1988 and recorded and released a few albums as well as released music videos, which got airplay on MTV in India. When I found myself in the local scene it was 1998 and it was mostly cover bands largely throwing in one or two of their own songs. For the most part the metal scene has been the bastard child of the Indie scene in India, at least until recently. So from around 2000 onwards there was a wave of Indian bands that started doing original music. I’ve been part of this for 15 years and I could probably write a book on it. We still lack infrastructure here to release music and also to organize tours. It’s not impossible but it’s very tough.

What made you decide to start a label?

It was the simple fact that there was not a single label in India that would touch the music we were making. The only labels here were the major players so it seemed fitting to release my music under my own label. Ironically, my last two albums and the upcoming DR one are being released via Universal Music so finally we did manage to crack that one even though it’s only a distribution deal.

You also run a web portal covering Indian metal, correct?

Nope, but we had one website for all independent music back in the day called Gigpad.com and then came rsjonline.com who were also the promoters for the Great Indian Rock Festival. Today we’ve got about 10-15 independently run blogs and websites. So people are getting involved and doing things. I’ve had a plan for the longest time to start one but given the amount of things I do it’s rather hard to add one more to it.

Are you facing any issues with censorship or problems with freedom of speech? How does Indian culture approach metal?

Surprisingly, no one really gives a shit here because metal is so small it doesn’t really get in the way of anyone. In India, all the problems start when you make shitloads of money. We have the regular problems just doing a show because you need to bribe everyone from the police to the government officials but that is mostly when you do big open-air shows and festivals. Corruption is rampant here but the people who work in all these offices don’t know, listen or care about metal; they are all into Bollywood. A lot of metal shows happen in universities.

How does the caste system play into Indian metal? Are people able to express their discontent about social structures through music?

While the caste system is prevalent in Indian society it’s not really as obvious in modern society, just in our rural areas where there are no traces of English music let alone metal. Metal in India is music of the middle and upper middle class so most kids don’t deal with caste systems. I think most Indian metal bands haven’t really picked up causes as such because there hasn’t been too much trouble. The thing most bands choose to sing about is terrorism because we’ve been subjected to so much of it over the years. Women’s rights are being brought up due to a very gruesome rape case. A band called Sceptre dedicated their album to the cause of women. Another black metal band called Heathen Beast did an album on the communal riots due to the destruction of a mosque in a place called Ayodhya. So some bands take up causes, others don’t.

Has the expansion of the Indian economy and the increase in foreign companies sending jobs to India been good for the metal scene? Do people have more disposable income?

The economy is growing but the price of living is becoming more and more unreasonable. There are constant price hikes. It’s actually really expensive living in Mumbai so disposable income doesn’t really trickle down to the metal scene here. Another reason is the audience is still very young. Most of the older crowds moved on to something else in life. Since we had no proper scene metal was almost like a ‘phase’ in college and once you finish you kind of cut your hair, get an office job and go for a fancy dinner instead of a concert.

Do bands in India tour extensively?

Not extensively because we don’t have a touring network and venues are a big issue. So there are about three or four cities that have ‘music’ venues to begin with. Like I said, the metal audience is very young. Most venues have a huge cost to stay open due to the taxes, corruption and all that jazz. Most of these places need to pull in crowds that spend lots of money. Metalheads don’t spend money hence most venues are closed off to metal. So what it leaves us with a band having to hire a venue, hire sound, pa, backline and basically be the promoter. In India, we also don’t have vans that we can drive around in due to the massive distance between places. It’s very hard to do any major touring. At best a band can do four or five cities and it’s quite a struggle. Most bands earn and make money of college gigs because they have sponsors and big budgets

Do you get a lot of overseas business?

People are slowly by surely discovering the world of Indian metal. With bands like DR and Kryptos finding a home with international labels and younger Indian bands making trips outside to perform at various festivals and venues with magazines writing about the scene we’re seeing a definite interest in our scene and it’s only going to get more and more interesting.

What is the most popular genre of metal in India, at least based on your experience with the label?

Each city has a popular genre. I would say overall whatever is trending in the world of metal is popular here. Back in the late 90s and early 2000′s when nu metal was huge in the world it was the same in India. We had tons of kids going apeshit over Slipknot and Limp Bizkit. Then came the whole metalcore wave.

Do you think Indian metal will ever get to the level where it is on par with, say, Europe and America?

To be very honest I think when it comes to quality of music being released we’re almost on par. We’re definitely 20 years behind on everything else. The thing is live music, live bands, guitars, drums, bass etc. are all alien instruments to our culture so there is a long way to go for all these to catch up and get the infrastructure and education in place. The bands that have stuck around could be put on any stage in the world and they will hold their own against any international live band.