Because Our Metal Is Badass

January 2, 2012 8:31 am by

Goddess Gagged. Photo: Chris Makhija.

In June 2010, when UK-based heavy metal music bible Metal Hammer announced its annual Golden God awards, it named Demonic Resurrection as the winner of the Global Metal category, given to “the international act that we think that you need to hear”. Later that week, when the Indian edition of Rolling Stone magazine held its first Metal Awards ceremony, the biggest winner of the night was Scribe, who walked away with the Critics’ Choice prize for band of the year. At this year’s edition of the event, Bhayanak Maut won the same category. Each of these bands hails from Mumbai, and we’re willing to wager a large amount of money that another act from our city, Goddess Gagged will score well at the 2012 awards.

It’s pretty clear that Mumbai has most of (if not all) the best metal bands in India. There are a few possible reasons for this. For starters, we’re a metal-crazy city—one that is able to sustain a seemingly risky venture like B69, and one that led even a tony club like Blue Frog to start a monthly metal night. We’re also home to the country’s longest-running music festival, Independence Rock, which for all practical purposes should be renamed Independence Metal (if you doubt this, look at the line-ups for the past couple of years here and here).

Demonic Resurrection frontman Sahil Makhija puts the connection between Mumbai and its ability to generate the country’s most popular metal bands down to a simple factor: longevity. “Frankly, I think it’s just because we’ve all kind of lasted for seven to eight years; 11 in the case of DR,” said Makhija, who added that the fact that most of the Indian music media—websites such as Indiecision and Indianrockmp3 for instance—is based here may also contribute to the level of awareness our homegrown headbanging acts enjoy.

Photographer and long-term metalhead Roycin D’Souza takes Makhija’s latter point further by suggesting that the quality of Mumbai metal out-moshes those from other Indian cities “because most of these bands have members who work in the media business,” including “advertising, production, design, and writing”. Said D’Souza, “This way, they get influenced very differently” as opposed to says groups from other parts of the country, many of which are formed in engineering colleges, where band members have little time or commitment to hone their music.

Guitarist and Bhayanak Maut founding member R. “Venky” Venkatraman is a brand partner at advertising agency BBH India; his band mate, vocalist Vinay Venkatesh is the creative director of OgilvyOne Worldwide in Mumbai. Jetesh Menon, the keyboardist of Demonic Resurrection, works at interactive marketing company SapientNitro, while Scribe has three members working in “creative industries”: guitarist Akshay Rajpurohit is a copywriter at branding company Creativeland Asia, bassist Srinivas “Vaas” Sunderrajan is an indie filmmaker, and multi-faceted frontman and singer Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy directs ad films and TV shows, and does voice-overs.

Krishnamoorthy, on the other hand, has another theory about why the city “where the tempo never lets up, just like in metal” is mosh-pit central. “All the bands have a member from the same college,” said Krishnamoorthy. “Siddharth [Basrur of Goddess Gagged], Rahul [Hariharan and] Venky [from Bhayanak Maut], Jetesh from DR, Vaas and me all went to SIES [the South Indian Education Society College of Arts, Science and Commerce in Sion].”

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