ZOMB's AIM-1 Review/Thoughts
Zomb's Absolute Indian Metal-1, Exclusive Review.
You may not know most of the people mentioned in this piece. But this review will
give you a clear picture of what AIM-1 is all about!
AIM Review/Thoughts Before I proceed to review AIM-1, I would like to give you a bit of background on how I got involved with this project. One fine day, back in December '05 I think, I got a call from Anjani from Sledge who put this idea forth to me about having a metal compilation. It seems he had discussed this with Sidd from Threinody and both agreed that this should/could be done. They essentially wanted my opinion on this. I was like HELL YEAH!! In the course of time, I got more and more involved until I totally took over the content (song selection) part of this compilation. I kept all the guys updated on what was happening and slowly AIM-1 was born.
Song 00: Infernal Wrath: Funeral Pyre
This song was the last to be added under the AIM-1 banner. When I was gathering material for this compilation, Infernal Wrath did not have a song to offer. Their song was ready much after the CD was finalized and had already gone for manufacturing. I really liked their stuff and wanted to add it on to AIM-1 in some way or the other. So I came up with the idea of an Online Bonus track!! Which surely worked! Afaaq's vocals are brutal and I seriously doubt there is anybody in India who can match up to his vocals and stature. Harshad's bass playing is consistent, he deserves a special pat for sticking around and doing what he loves most...play DEATH METAL!! Pradeep's guitar work is speedy and devastating. This guy has it all!!! Finally, JP's drum parts are insane! Most people find their music to be in the same vein as Cannibal Corpse. Personally, at least with this song, I feel they sound closer to Nile. I'd like to add, the drums were programmed on this one. In a normal case, it would be criminal to replicate the intensity of JP's drumming by programming it. That's where producer/recorder Prashant (Scribe guitarist) has truly excelled with this song. I say this becos I know this song was recorded in one night or so at Prashant's home studio. It is testimony of this band's dedication and talent to achieve a f**king amazing production in such a short duration. They just had to be part of AIM-1. No two ways about it! Hopefully, in some future volume of AIM, I could put this song on a CD as opposed to a download that it is today. Talking about downloads, a mutual friend put this song for download on a Russian metal site. It got some 3000 hits in some 2 days or so. A message to the nay-sayers...open your eyes and mind! There is a revolution taking place in your own backyard. Wake up and smell the REAL shit!
Song 01: Amidst The Chaos: Melancholy
I loved this song the first time I heard it. The band had actually recorded this way back with a different line up (Viru of The King Keys/Prayag/PDV on Drums and Jared of Old Monks on guitars) at ThroatLatch Studios. I think they wanted to send it as an entry to participate in some competition. When I heard the song first, I was surprised that no one was talking about it or the band. The composition is quite original. Especially the bridge section in the middle where there is a trippy mixture of detuned guitarwork and drums. Sunnieth's vocals are very commendable, bass work is good too with some nice basslines. All in all, it was the mood of the song that got me hooked. I met the guys and told them how awesome their track was and how I was planning to make it the opening track of AIM-1. They told me the song has been available for download for a looong time and people probably have already heard it. I was like not like this, they haven't!
Song 02: Sceptre: Charred
Apun ka bhailog. We have been around in the scene too long. Have played some great shows together, have chilled out together and have mutual respect for the music we make. I wanted them on this compilation. They had already released this song on their EP. It didn't matter, these guys had earned a slot on the CD owing to their sheer longevity and single-minded focus to continue to rock the scene. Charred was recorded at Hangar Studios by guitarist extraordinaire Claver Menezes long back. It is overflowing with catchy riffage, very typical of Sceptre. Their music is based on old-school thrash metal. But they manage to add modern elements to their compositions. Janus's basslines are quite solid on this song and the band is tight as hell. The drums were programmed but the samples used are quite real and Aniket has written some grroovy drum parts for this song. Timir's vocals are quite recognizable and he sends out a message to chain-smokers like me, to quit. Sorry
Song 03: Asura: Lateral Divinity
Like many many people in the scene, I had no clue of this band's existence. Which by the way is the case with many other bands out there. (This is the age of DIY. Bands: you gotta have your PR in place!). Well, one fine day I get a mail from Sidd (Threinody) asking me to check out their song. I was like are they from Singapore or something? He confirmed they are an active band in Bangalore. I heard the song and I liked it. This song was recorded by producer/guitarist Anirban from Bangalore at his new studio setup. I could see a major Rudra influence in their music. But I felt their song was a little rawer and had more bite than what I have heard of Rudra. Or so I felt at that point in time. Plus, if today you ask a European or American listener to pick out one song that sounds MOST Indian on AIM, I'll bet a 1000 bux, it'd be this song! The amalgamation of Sanskrit slokhas and English words is quite commendable. Not just put there for f**k-sake. It's well thought over and fits in well with the music. Finally Aditi from RadioVerve got me in touch with this band and I got their song for AIM-1. Aditi went on to help me get one other band too!
Song 04: Threinody: Cold Comfort
This trio too has been around in the scene for too long. They used to be Bangalore's TOP band in 2000/2001. They have been on a break for long and will soon be hitting the scene with renewed vigor. They were consulting with me for a 3-song EP that they had recorded. Cold Comfort was one of the songs on that EP. I got them in touch with Fali, who enhanced and mixed their EP. Out of the 3 songs on that EP, Cold Comfort was most Threinody to me and so they were on AIM-1. These guys have a typical style of odd time signatures. Plus in this song they have used some clean guitar parts with a synth riding in the background. Satish's drums are live and his playing is impeccable. Premik's guitar work too is NICE!! Sidd's strength is in his bass playing. What a player!!! He is a big fan of Steve D'Giorgio (Death, Sadus, Testament) and also is his online friend!! I feel his singing could have been better. He has a very unique raspy kind of voice! Hope to see these guys gigging soon!
Song 05: Scribe: The Vaas (Apparatus Missing)
I first saw this band at July Massacre '05. It's a supergroup of sorts with Prashant (Exhumation) on guitars, Niraj (ex PDV, Chaos Theory) on drums, Srinivas (ex Chaos Theory and some other bands) on bass and the biggest surprise of all Vishwesh (Guitarist of Split) on vocals. At July Massacre '05, I was like "WHAT THE F**K!!!" when I heard their music. Then when I was gathering material for AIM-1, Prashant casually send me an MP3 of this song humbly tagging it as 'rough mix'. I downloaded it, played it and my thoughts were if this is a rough mix then I am Rick Rubin. The song was mindblowing to say the least. I confirmed them quickly. During the course of time, they sent me versions with more enhancements, which I felt didn't work for the song. That rough mix version was too super to ignore. Prashant, like the sweet chap that he is, shed most enhancements and gave me a killer version of this song. When I heard this one I was like, this band is going straight up! The composition is quite modern and original at the same time. There are shades of the hardcore, nu-metal genre here and there. But the arrangements on this one make it stand apart. The drums are programmed. Niraj has written some truly amazing drum parts. Prashant's recording and guitaring skills are way out there! Vishwesh's vocals...what can I say!! There is this part in the mid section where he speaks in a European accent. At first I thought that was a sample. I was blown away to know Vishwesh did that himself. I later found out he is a voice-over artist by profession. I recently found out that these guys are launching a music video for this song! Should be killer indeed! Also, if all goes well you should be seeing Scribe in Chennai soon!!
Song 06: Sledge: Envenomed
Our bros from Hyderabad! These guys won the Castrol Garage Rock all India competition that too playing Death/Thrash metal. Surprising and a good sign! They released their debut album called Desert of Souls on Times Music. After this they had a line-up change. They went ahead and recorded Envenomed announcing their new sound. If I have to describe their new sound, I'd call it shades of Sepultura with keyboards. Envenomed starts with a beautiful piano line, thereby building up the curiosity in listeners. Soon Suman's pounding drums and Anjani's thumping bass kickin and the song reaches a new level. I personally felt that the guitar tones could have been better. The guitar playing is tight and the solos are well constructed. Finally, Avi's very recognizable vocals layer the music in the right places making this a good composition over all. When they recorded this song, this was mostly for themselves to find out whether their new sound still has the edge. I thought it sure did and wanted it on AIM-1! BTW, this song is a major hit on Myspace and also topped some international metal chart. I await the day when Sledge will release its 2nd album. Before that I await the day when I could catch them live!!! Killer band!
Song 07: Redemption: Swart
Again a band that we (Metakix) have been closely associated with. These boys are our homies and more like family. That didn't mean a slot was assured on AIM-1 though, HAHA! At the time, all they had to offer was a badly produced version of Swart, which was also available for download. I could see that the song was simply great. Unfortunately, I could also see that this recording would never ever be featured on AIM-1. I had a word with the boys. They had some internal discussions and then came back to me saying they plan to re-record this song. They wanted me to help with the entire process from start to finish until we had a good production in our hands. The original recording was done at Throatlatch Studios by Viru (drummer of The King Keys, Prayag, PDV --- Viru tera bohat publicity horeyla hai!!! HAHAH!) We went back to Throatlatch and to Viru and laid down a plan to re-record this song. We got a date, moved all the required gear to the studio, set em up and were all set to start. I worked on a decent tone for Amey's bass guitar and Naggy's rhythm guitar. Viru, got a good drum sound going for Ashish. Rust's vocals were to be recorded after the music. So he just provided a guiding track. Once all this was done, the band decided to go ahead with Fali for the post production work. Rust recorded his vocals at Fali's Over The Top studios. Fali enhanced the song overall and the final properly produced version of Swart was ready for AIM-1. About the composition, this again is like an innovative form of metal to me. Yes it has hints of existing genres, but the way these guys have packed it and arranged the parts is truly original. The strongest element of the song is its groove. All Redemption songs have that quality. Truly a great song. Also one of my favorite live tracks! I am waiting for these guys to hit the live circuit soon!
Song 08: Nerverek: Flesh for Food
I first heard about these guys from Chennai from our drummer Sheldy. He knew these guys and helped them out with a gig in Mumbai which kinda went un-noticed. Sheldy gave me enuff background on the band to get me curious about what this band is up to. Next thing, I get this song, which I like immediately. After repeated listening to the song for production quality consistency, decide to get in touch with the band to ask them if they'd be interested in being part of AIM-1. They had some queries, which we resolved when we went for our South India tour in Feb'06, and finally I was given the song on a CD. The best part of this song is the experimentation with vocals. My domain!!! Some people find it goofy, some people find it interesting. I am the latter. Reminds me of some songs by Faith No More, Alice In Chains and Annihilator's Brain Dance, where the vocalists create light moments by making weird sounds! Plus, Arjun's singing is quite good on this one. The drums are programmed and like the Sceptre/Scribe songs almost real samples were used. The bass guitar had a very good tone on this song. The clean guitar tones are splendid. This song was well produced. It is the longest song on AIM-1 and still does not bore you. BTW, this is Nicky's favorite track on AIM-1. I am eager to attend one of Nerverek's performances. Way to go guys!!!
Song 09: Grungy Morphins: Drak-ula
Again, yet another band that I was not aware existed. Today I feel that was because they are part of the huge but very isolated scene happening in North-East India. There is so much happening there...we hardly get to know about it. Well, Hozo the vocalist of this band contacted me and sent me a rough mix of this song. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the song and to know about these boys from Darjeeling. The mix needed improvements. So I wrote down my comments and sent them back to Hozo. The band went ahead and re-recorded the song!!! During this time, they were also speaking to Dogma Tone Records for a separate compilation that the label wants to launch. Thankfully AIM-1 got the revamped version of this song. This music is in the same vein as Cradle Of Filth. Havenít heard any band in India doing it this well. Hozo's vocals are a replica of Danni Filth's vocals but also has it's own unique sound. The clean guitar parts sound splendid. The rhythm guitar tone and volume could have been louder. Basslines and drums are very good. The keyboard parts are well leveled and don't over power the music. I found this song very impressive at the end of it all. More power and gigs to Hozo and Grungy Morphins. Someday we shall play gigs together!
Before I talk about the next song, I wanted to first give you a background on why the song even came into the compilation. There was this episode with an other band that was previously selected and was later found to be a big fake. That band is called Asian "Madarchod ka Aulaad, Chipkali kay jhaat kay Jinghey" Heat.
Song 10: Spitfire: Burn it
I have to say, this was one song that got added to AIM-1 the fastest!! We were looking for one last band to feature on this CD. Aditi from Radioverve told me about this new band that was playing some shows and were pretty good at it. She also pointed me to a live version of one of their songs. I heard it and was like cool ask them to get in touch. Vibhaas the drummer called me and after the conversation decided to go ahead and record the song in Anirbhaan's studio in Bangalore. We had a tough deadline to meet and I gave some tips to the guys to work faster. I had some conversations with Anirbhaan as well. In about 2 days, the song was recorded, mixed with live drums and sent to me as an MP3. I was like F**K, that's fast!!! Mind you, without any compromise in quality. When they sent me the final version on CD I was glad to have gotten this band on board! Thanks Aditi!! Their music is nu-metallish. They have some good grooves and hooks happening in the song. The vocals standout on the CD! Bass and guitar work is excellent. Vibhaas's drumming is quite consistent too. What impressed me most about this band was how matured they were about the whole thing despite their young age. We need more bands like Spitfire to herald the next wave of Indian Rock Music. Also, Anirbhaan has done a great job with the production of this song!
Song 11: Brute Force: Brute Force
I felt I was listening to old Testament when these boys first sent me the song. But then I also knew that this was a modern sound and original at it. Brute Force was Pune's addition to AIM-1. One of the first home produced songs that I heard while gathering material for AIM-1. I was blown away. The tones, the sounds were too good to believe. But the boys however thought they should have live drums going. So they went ahead and re-recorded a new version of the song. Then in the course of the next three months they played/sent to me many different versions of the song's mix and recording. I was truly confused at the end of it all. At Resurrection V, Akshay (drummer/backing vocalist), Naveen (Blackhole Theory), Arun (Devoid) and I got into Akshay's car and heard the many versions of this song to finalize on one. Everybody gave their inputs and majority liked the original recording of this song! Which with minor enhancements here and there is what you will hear on AIM-1. This song is very well arranged. Everything is in the right place and right volumes. The lead guitar work is simply impeccable. A well produced old-school thrash metal song!! You just can't miss it!
Song 12: Devoid: Black Fortress
Yet anther home produced song!!! I have to salute all bands that produce their music at home. You guys are increasingly beginning to excel at it!!! Like this song for instance. Arun has packed in everything he could as a producer! The drum's are programmed, but replicate Shubham's killer playing on the song. Frank's bass holds together the bottom end through out!!! Keshav's lead playing is very good on this one. Almost Slayer-like. Arun's and his combined stereo-panned riffage is very reminiscent of Kreator and Slayer. Arun's snarls too are awesome on this one!! Arun sent me two mixes of this track. I wrote down my comments on where it could get better and finally got the CD from him. The music has definitely inherited from the likes of Kreator and Slayer, but from there has gone on to become something original to Devoid. I cannot specifically put my finger on it. It could be something as basic as the guitar tones these boys have. But when you hear Devoid, you know it's Devoid. Also, the song has some special effects kinda sounds in the beginning, which I later found out was recorded from an actual thunder from above their terrace. Another killer track to watch live. Am waiting for their full-length album!!!
Song 13: Metakix: You're Bloody Right
Well, well, well!! This song has come a looooong way. I had first written it when JP, Holy and Raj were in the band way back in 2003. Over the years, I changed many arrangements and melodies in the song. Then Viresh, Nicky and Sheldy made more changes and Fali's production closed the loop. We got a song that we are proud of. Also, we were banking on a good mix as this is the song we have shot the music video for. Before the AIM-mix we had another mix which we sent out to some people for feedback. We applied those changes and more to the song and finally got what we have today. An intermediate version is what you hear on AIM-1. In this review I shall talk about everything else but my parts. Starting with the lead solo...before Viresh joined the band, I used to play that solo. Then he gave it a shot and it transformed into something totally different. He's got it boss!! Nicky's bass tone (live and studio) was something we stumbled upon. Once he discovered that tone he hasn't changed it since. It offers majorly to our sound. He also sings seconds on this song...at the brigde part just before the lead solo. Sheldy's drumming is powerful. That's the only word for it. Also some of his parts are quite subtle, which you would notice only if you hear properly. We had one such a situation with this song. The chorus happens thrice in the song. Sheldy plays the same drum lines in the first two choruses and a totally different line in the third chorus. While mixing, at first Fali and I thought that was a mistake. Later when Fali properly set all the levels in the song, we were like WOW! I think like Hand In Hand, we did a good job with this song.
Song 14: Synaps: Wings
The 4th band from Bangalore. These boys are playing all the big gigs in Bangalore that you can think of. However, I have to say, they do maintain a very low profile in the scene. I am sure, we'd be hearing more of them and from them in the near future. I have been told by their vocalist that they are ready to release their full length album. Killler!!!! About the song...This was recorded way back and there was nothing much to edit in it. They sent me a CD and I really liked the music. It is good old heavy metal to me. The vocals are nice and clean. Drums, bass and guitars gel-in well. The solos are good! This is a song which you would sign along to at a concert. A nice composition indeed!
Song 15: Narsil: Prelude to Execution
I first met Shashwat (Vocalist) at IIT Delhi, the year Metakix headlined Rendezvous. We have kept in touch ever since on and off. Shash was eager to have Narsil on board. Also I wanted a band from Delhi or the North on this CD. I had already covered the other 3 directions/zones of the country. That's around the time I was introduced to a young producer/guitarist Anupam. What a feisty guy!! HAHA! Soon after the introduction, Anupam quickly went on to tell me how immensely f**k-all the production on every other Indian release has been so far. That included HEADLINEs, our debut album...HAHAHAH! And how he knows it all about producing an album 'correctly'! I was like iski dhulayee ka time aagayaa hai! But I could relate to what he was saying. I agreed with most of what he had to say about the stuff that is around. And then he sent me a preview of this song. After listening to it I knew this guy is not just another ball-talker on the forums or in general. Anupam, if you are reading this...You are gonna make it BIG very very soon! Good work bro! For the most part after that, I was in touch with Shashwat who told me he is finalizing the vocals for the song. Then one day I finally received the CD with the final cut. Maaan, was I impressed! A short song, with almost everything a new death metal band could offer all packed in. The song best works as a sneak preview to the carnage one can expect at a live performance of this band. Not to mention, sets the context for a future album!! Yet another song on AIM-1, where the vocals are non-conventional with many kinds of weird sounds in between full-on growling. Drums are programmed, but Anupam would like to tell you all that his are the best samples which one could ever use! I agree, they sound very real! I couldn't hear much of the basslines on the mix, but the guitars are largeeee!!! I have to watch this band performing before I die or play in Wembley, which ever comes first!
Song 16: Exhumation: Racial Slaughter
Another short death metal track with some fantastic guitar layers. Exhumation has been regularly recording and releasing their material as free download. Enuff material to make an album. I have watched this band live many times and really like what the are doing. Prashant (the Scribe guy also plays guitars for this band) was my main contact for this band. He gave me some of their previously released tracks on CD. Out of all those, I found this song most appropriate to AIM-1. The added benefit of selecting this song was that we had very little space on the CD. It was like as if that space was booked for Exhumation! It fit like a jigsaw puzzle. Also, by this time I had to pat myself for starting with nothing and coming to a stage where I had more bands than space on the CD. So essentially it was a double whammy! This song was recorded way back at Demonic Studios and produced by Sahil. Decent quality I'd say! Aditya's vocals are deep and offer some dark elements to the music. The guitar work is fast up-down stroke picking on down-tuned strings. Makes like a wall of sound coming at your face. I couldnít hear much of Aritro's basslines on the mix. The drums are programmed, I think, but give you an idea of what Yash can play live. I have had multiple discussions with the guys about their song and the story of how it fit into the compilation as an outro! The fade out with the hammer-on solo guitar layers is magical!
So people that's what the whole shit was about. Iíd like to say that, today when I hold the AIM-1 CD in my hand I am surprised that no one thought of doing something like this before. Also, a little concerned that such good talent is going unnoticed. If I alone could manage to pull this off, there are people who are in much much higher places than me, who could have done it better before me!! There are other aspects and stories of AIM-1, like how eMP Records came into being and how Mihir managed to rake in money for manufacturing the CDs and all the efforts he has put from his side to get AIM-1 proper exposure. If I start writing then, it will never stop. So we'll talk about that some other day at some other time. At the end of it all, I am f**king happy about AIM-1 and when I am like 80 yrs old teeth-less and life-less, when some huge conglomerate decides to give me a Lifetime Achievement Award for f**k-sake, if any of you manage to catch that on the news or the papers...let your thoughts wander to this post! I am looking forward to giving you AIM-2,3,4,5....80! ENJOY! Support Indian Rock!
Z O M B