Demo:listen: Dead Bhuttos

Welcome to Demo:listen, your weekly peek into the future of underground metal. Whether it’s death, black, doom, sludge, grind, thrash, heavy, speed, progressive, stoner, retro, post-, etc. we’re here to bring you the latest demos from the newest bands. On this week’s Demo:listen, we find that punk is alive and restless in Lahore, Pakistan’s Dead Bhuttos.

Writing from almost a full half-day into the future, Hassan Amin, vocalist of Pakistan’s hardcore punk trio Dead Bhuttos, explains: “I’ve been wanting to do this kind of shit since I was a snotnosed little vandal in school. What we do with Multinational Corporations [Amin’s and Dead Bhuttos guitarist/drummer’s Sheraz Ahmed’s other band] is sonically similar but Dead Bhuttos is more centered around drawing influences from a specific era of punk, so to speak. The Urdu lyrics set it apart as well, some of my favorite punk bands didn’t shout in English – Terveet Kadet, Los Crudos, Totalitar, HHH – and that never bothered me from getting into the music. It feels a hell lot better to do all that ranting in my mother tongue anyway haha.”

That helps to explain Amin’s fervor, then. Just listen to how his vocals seem to break through the chaos of the opening track, “Pakistan Ka Matlab Kya” (“What is the meaning of Pakistan”), full of spleen and fury, and signifying something if Dead Bhuttos get you listening, and get you moving.

The music of Dead Bhuttos is a metallic and raw confrontation that’s occasionally overcome with a crestfallen Sabbath riff or bass groove, as in the demo’s title track. If not for its spine of pneumatic bass lines, I’d hesitate to call Dead Bhuttos’ demo, Democracy is the Best Revenge, “punk” at all. Which basswork, by the way, was laid down by Basim Usmani, a member of the Pakistani diaspora who calls America home these days. As Amin explains it: “[Dead Bhuttos] was originally Basim’s band back in 2007 but he went back to the US and focused solely on his band Kominas after that. When he came back to Lahore last year we thought about doing a punk project, he suggested using the old Dead Bhuttos name again. We all had a laugh over it before going hell yeah, let’s do it.”

Guitarist/drummer Ahmed adds: “As for the name itself, ‘Dead Bhuttos’ signifies the reflection of post-dictatorship Pakistan where every kind of dissent and different opinion is suppressed by the masses. And ignorance prevails in the name of war, nationalism and religion . . . Basim and Hassan had this idea of recording some demo or EP while Basim was visiting Lahore, and me being me, [I] went knee deep in that shit as soon as the idea was presented to me, without thinking twice . . . Basim plugged in my bass guitar and I sat on the drum kit and he instinctively ripped out an old school punk riff and I played a d-beat over it. That’s it. We added some occasional breakdowns and blasts, but it was really straight forward. We structured it a bit later but it’s just punk riffage and d-beats to be honest. It all took like 4 days. Day 1 to exchange ideas and jam, Day 2 to record drums, Day 3 to record bass and guitar tracks and Day 4 to chill out. It took way too long for me to mix the whole thing mainly because we went too DIY while recording this and needed to clean up a lot of tracks while mixing.”

But besides the sporadic doom riffage, the accosting vocals, and all the d-beats and blastbeats, there’s also Amin’s lyrics to make it obvious that Democracy . . . is something more than just aggressive music. Even without the handy translations, how could anyone miss that urgency in his voice? It’s a shout we all can not only enjoy, but heed. When asked if he’s got any advice for us lovers of aggressive music living under the new regime, Amin says: “I think extreme music fans everywhere need to take a long hard look at their subcultures and identify the regressive elements. It’s very easy take a reactionary and right-wing stance because it appears to be sensible at first glance. But it’s always better to look deeper into issues, and with technology these days it’s not exactly too hard.”

Democracy is the Best Revenge is a short teaser teeming with promise. Yet for all its brevity you’ll find yourself listening to its unrelenting attack over and over again. According to Amin, Basim will return to Pakistan to play some shows and record some new material. In the meantime, pick up some digital jams from Dead Bhuttos Bandcamp, and look for tangibles in the near future. “SlapBet from Singapore is releasing it on vinyl [email SlapBet for more info at slapbetrecords@gmail.com] and Psychotic Break from New Jersey is putting it out on tape,” says Amin. “The release dates for that should be announced soon, along with some more tape and CD runs that are in the pipeline.”

You heard it here first at Demo:listen. Check this space next and every Friday for promising new metal.