Bangalore, June 20;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. Vikram Bhat of doom/death metal band Dying Embrace has been around the scene for 20 years, and he has now put together Doom Over Bangalore — an annual event featuring his band and stoner/doom metal stalwarts Bevar Sea as the house bands, while inviting different guest bands every year. Apart from the likes of Kryptos on the line-up, 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. The band’s guitarist Somesha Sridhara speaks on their influences, their upcoming album, and why they probably won’t be playing next to any other Kannada-language band, ever.
You guys are taking stage after quite some time. Why the lull?
The last show we played was in April, but yeah we had not played live for a year before that. 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.
It seems to be a great time for old school metal bands in India right now, particularly in Bangalore. Do you think it is a revival, or it is 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. 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.
You guys had a demo cassette tape out last year. How many copies did you sell 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.
Coming to 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 title translates to A Council of Witches. Occultism is something we’re also very interested to look into for future material.
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.
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.
What is your set list for Doom Over Bangalore?
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.