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Undergrind V: Subterranean Sickness

This fucking city
Is run by pigs
They take the rights away
From all the kids

We're fighting a war we can't win
They hate us-we hate them
We can't win-no way

- lines from 'Police Story' by Black Flag
It is a legendary fact by now that the concert organizers in India are finding it extremely difficult to find locations for organizing Rock / metal concerts (Mumbai and Bangalore are the forerunners). Undergrind organizers found at last one good place to host the Undergrind V event on February 14th amidst the threats from certain fundamentalist shitheads threatening to wreak a havoc on Valentine's Day in Bangalore and rest of Karnataka.

And guess what, the pigs seemed to have problems with some metalheads hanging out in one place. They didn't manage to stop the show but nobody gives them rights to fuck with the youth doing their thing. They should be around doing their duty of preserving safety and peace in troubled times like these, instead they are hellbent on putting a full-stop or disrupting the peaceful event of a bunch of kids having fun and playing their kind of music. There was no noise outside the venue or towards the neighboring church but the nuns from the neighboring church ended up reducing the entire decibel level. Not necessary to say that these pigs succeeded in ruining the experience of last couple of sets at Undergrind V.

It is not the first time that a show has been disrupted by pigs, it has happened before several times. Last Freedom Jam show was stopped halfway when the thrash band Theorized was performing their original comp and the organizers were told to wrap it up before 9pm just because the ground adjacent to the Palace Grounds was hosting a Jagjit Singh ghazal concert for those elite page 3 fuckheads.

I like Jagjit Singh, nothing against his ghazals or lyrics (I have been an avid listener since my teens) but the police intervention to cancel the Freedom Jam show that was permitted way before to make way for another concert is a shocking one where they displayed their prejudice towards western music by their acts. One of the 2 stages was closed and the other one had to wrap up in a hurry with 10 minutes or something slot for each remaining band in the roster.

No media report was made on this nor did I find any blog post reporting this issue. So here it was.

Bad Taste (not quite):
The Undergrind V actually witnessed more audience than the previous ones, which is a good thing and also hosted platform for few newer bands who were seldom given any place to perform in mainstream gigs. Bangalore hosts a sizeable number of gigs throughout the year and you get to see the usual suspects, their usual set of mediocre numbers. Not bad but not too great.

Its been a long time since a real original act has emerged from Bangalore. Or at least a distinctively different band with their own sound. Lot of bands call it a day before they could 'get' their signature sound which I think is a dangerous trend considering the number of bands coming-and-going on monthly basis.

Frankly I am bored of usual mainstream gigs happening in Bangalore and I have distanced myself from these kind of events lately. Didn't bother to attend the Iron Maiden concert which I knew would be a terrible experience considering the lineup of bands opening for Maiden, the previous Maiden gig fuckup by DNA networks, Lauren Harris, current Maiden status in my book (y'know!) and the unbelievable ticket price. It certainly had all the ingredients of a good old rip off.

Wake up DNA Networks and the washed out corporate bands who travel to India just to make money. You are not doing us any favor by bringing 'has-beens' to our country. We may be a metal-starved country but that doesnt mean we'll lap it up whatever crap you bring in the name of promotion. Enough of Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi or Def Lappard. Time to see some Slayer and other extreme metal acts!

Sahg and Satyricon show last year? It was far out man! Thank you RSJ, Sahg and Satyrion. It is definitely a good lesson for other event management companies that bring in international acts. Opeth performed in Chennai where as Bangalore has the largest number of Opeth fans in India. Why in Chennai at a campus gig and not Bangalore? Who the fuck knows.

Symphonies of Sickness:
Well, I am past the bile now after all the above rants. Now let's get to business of post du jour, my Undergrind V review. I may not as much call it as a review but more of my impressions as an audience and as an insider of underground metal scene in Bangalore.

As I have mentioned earlier in this post, Undergrind V has had more number of audience than the previous avatars of Undergrind which was truly underground gig with the bands performing along with some close friends and fellow underground metalheads. There were people from different parts of the country as well as the die-hard Bangalore underground maniacs.

The gear was all set up well in advance and started an hour later than the set time. So far so good.

Bad Taste
(Grindcore) with Charlie (vocals), Sajid (drums - Bad Taste, Perforated Limb), Tony (bass - Bad Taste, Perforated Limb, Anorectal Ulceration, Gastronomicus Erectus, Bloodsucking Freaks) and Srinivas (guitars), started the gig with their set of original compositions to set the things in motion, an experienced band starting the show instead of headlining the gig .

"...this way it will start the momentum for other new bands to pick up, warm up the audience and also give new acts a kind of confidence", as Charlie (vocals - Bad Taste, Bloodsucking Freaks, Gorified, Gastronomicus Erectus) put it.

Bad Taste as usual performed an effortless kick ass set along with little mosh activity as the crowd was moving in from the walls and warming up. Bad Taste is made up of members from different bands who had or were performing at Undergrind V, they started their first gig at a Sunday Jam at Chitra Kala Parishat. Funny incident though, I am compelled to mention it here that the first Bad Taste performance included no drummer but audio samples from horror cult classics at the beginning of each number. One of the samples had some moaning sounds which were later accused by less enlightened audience and organizers that it was porn and told them not to repeat that again in their next gig a month later which didn't happen because of torrential downpour which stopped the Sunday Jam right after one band had performed.

Anyways, Bad Taste the name derived from Peter Jackson's cult horror movie, they had formed with an intention of playing music which is a sort of tribute to hardcore punk acts like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Minor Threat and all. Over different gigs their sound has totally evolved into something else towards more macabre which still is better.

All in all, Bad Taste gave a bad ass performance that I don't think anybody else could have given a better opener for a bad ass gig that followed. And yes, they have an one second song based on a Tamil horror movie, the title itself is the lyric!

Then came Perforated Limb (Slam Death Metal) with Rajeev on vocals, Sajid on drums (who remained on the drum kit after he finished drumming for Bad Taste), so did Tony on bass double timing after Bad Taste set before and Sreenivas (not the same one as Bad Taste guitarist) on guitars.

These guys have become a force to reckon with, like juggernaut out of control. I have witnessed this band right from their second gig (I think) and every following gig they have displayed more tighter compositions and complementing effortless instrumental play that comes with enjoying what they do.

The Perforated Limb set brought the audience to their feet and what followed then was a crazy mosh-pit. I was standing at the front corner of the stage near the table that had album CDs and posters, more than a dozen moshers landed on me in a split second like two ton boulder, instantly breaking the table with me at the bottom of the dog-pile! It was that crazy.

Some Mumbai metal band guy had mentioned Rolling Stone magazine last year that Bangalore moshers are bad and they take it personally (seriously) if they get hurt moshing. Well, like, fuck you, you ain't seen shit.

I have to make a special mention that the compositions of Perforated Limb have become longer and more improvisational (but still tight). Especially the mosh-worthy slam parts are tastefully extended to drive the crowd ape-shit. The longer compositions as opposed to their earlier short, tight ones is a smart move on the band's part because their slam parts are worth every buck you'd pay to lay your hands on their album.

Perforated Limb is tighter than ever and their comps are getting better by the day. I have been pestering these guys to cut an album, this is high time they did a demo now. Definitely one of the bands to look out for, keep your radars on the lookout for some exciting material coming out of Bangalore underground metal scene in the future. Anything worth a mention will be mentioned it here. So does Perforated Limb which takes the cake and belts it too.

Anorectal Ulceration (Gore/Pornogrind) with Tony (bass, vocals), Cliff (guitars) and Christopher (drums) is one of the sickest bands from Bangalore. With a name like that and a specific genre dabbling in the bizarre and forbidden, what else can you expect?!
Anorectal Ulceration has been known to belt out 20 songs in 15 mins. Not a strange thing if one is into pornogrind genre, shorter songs are order of the day. But not this time.

I was waiting for the first song to end before it started but it carried on and it took me no time to realize that I was witnessing this band treading a more extended territory with songs of longer duration and oh, the mosh-worthy slow parts that brought the bloodthirsty moshers to their feet once again. With Anorectal Ulceration, you never can expect when the song is gonna end or just make a crazy tempo shift, odd time signatures, bowel churning vocals, sickest song titles and all.

If you don't know by now, Anorectal Ulceration is one of the most well-known regulars at the underground gigs and the band members have also been instrumental in organizing Undergrind along with other bands. Anywhere contemporary Bangalore underground extreme metal scene is mentioned, Gorified and Anorectal Ulceration are mentioned in the same breath.

Which brings me to Gorified (Grindcore) with Charlie (vocals), Ganesh (guitars) and Ali (drums) shared the same stage with original lineup without the bass guitarist (which was weird). This is almost 2 years since Ali the founding drummer has played with Gorified, the band performed with a little bit of rehearsal but still managed to give a great performance even in the absence of a bass guitarist. Talk about limitations increasing the creativity.

This was by far one of the best Gorified gigs with far better sound and need I say that these guys can easily belt out an effortless set.

There's a lot I can write about the band but nothing prepares you to witness this band live, one of the bands that is more known elsewhere than here. Their out-of-print demo Ruptured Within Seconds was released a long time ago on Sevared Records label and has been featured on several international underground extreme metal compilations, which is a no less feat considering a media attention (sensation) that other mainstream bands get when they are signed up by some international label. Whereas bands like Gorified and Gruesome Malady have already tread that ground, released albums on international labels, you don't get to hear not as much a whisper in the popular media.

Anyways, I had a long chat with the band after the gig which was also captured on video (if you could hear me, you are lucky, and you don't get to see me in that because it is Gonzo style video). Its a very insightful interview with the band where we got to talk about their music, the underground scene overall and a lot more things. Let me see, once it gets uploaded to the Youtubes on the internets (as George W Bush calls it), I'll post it here.

Gastronomicus Erectus (Goregrind) featuring Charlie (vocals), Cliff (guitars), Tony (bass) and Vikram Bhatt (drums) belted out some improvised goregrind material which, according to the band members, they had rehearsed an evening before and the rest all took place on stage. It certainly provided some interesting interplay and collaborations with the drums and guitars very much like Jazz. Gastronomicus Erectus sounds nowhere close to Jazz but more extreme time signature messing and abrupt breaks, also the abrupt song climaxes.

Even though I have mentioned Gastronomicus Erectus under Goregrind genre, it is more than that. It is a real weird band with all the band members from grindcore background (in general) and varied influences, makes it an interesting experience to witness them live.

Gastronomicus Erectus in fact started as a one-off-gig outfit and now with their second appearance on Undergrind V promises the interesting things ahead as Vikram Bhatt (of Gruesome Malady) is back after a long hiatus from the underground metal scene and this time in this new outfit.

Abandoned Agony (Brutal Death Metal) with Rajesh (vocals, bass), Hitesh (guitars), Kiran (guitars) and Shreyas (drums) took the stage and tore the place apart just like they did at Undergrind IV and NLS Strawberry Fields. These guys seem to have an uncanny talent to belt out a non-stop performance without ever having to catch a breath or any time for welcoming the audience (or that kind of niceties). They performed a set like a well oiled war machine, they came, they destroyed and they left. And they didn't leave anything to be desired except for the audience who were panting for more brutal assault.

Incidentally they had cut their self-released demo Infected Unborn around their gig at NLS Strawberry Field and created certain amount of buzz in the underground scene. The album is available from band members, beautifully designed and priced at only 50 bucks, "cheaper than a Zinger burger" as vocalist Rajesh said. One of the bands that can be seen at mainstream and at underground gigs as well, owing to the fact that Abandoned Agony started as a thrash act and pretty soon their sound developed into more extreme brutal death metal as it is now.

They surprised a lot of people with their brutal set with their new sound at previous Undergrind (IV), Abandoned Agony has a distinctive sound with catchy hooks and some tasty fast paced leads, bordering on Nile and Cryptopsy territory (of both I am a huge fan of). This is a real tight band which has evolved beyond compare in a very short span of time. One more band from the Bangalore underground circuit to add to your radar list. Hell, you can add almost every band from Undergrind to this radar lookout list. Check out some of their compositions which are from their demo at their MySpace page.

Pretty soon I'll post a review of their demo EP Infected Unborn and the interview of the band once I get hold of the band members for that. Nothing journalistic, just a fanboy review and interview.

Just around this time the nuns in the neighboring church were calling for the almighty in their prayers as the underground extreme metallers must have scared living hell out of them, then came the pressures from them and the Rotary club meeting that had started on the floor above, to reduce the decibel level of overall output.

This sadly was something that added to the frustration of Macabre Intent (Brutal Death Metal) where they tried their hardest to deliver a kick ass set amid the reduced volume, in the absence of human drummer (instead they had programmed drum parts) but still it just wasn't quite like the real thing. They did play a good set of brutal death metal but the low sound ruined it all for them, these bunch of relatively young kids started with Undergrind IV and apparently displayed more mature, understated performance. They definitely are getting better, it will be interesting to catch this band once again under better sound conditions. Till then...

Which brings me to the last 2 bands that performed before the gig ended. Where Macabre Intent was an understated performance, Necrophilia (Brutal Death Metal) and Crptic Stench (Death Metal) sure did belt out an over the top performance. It is natural considering this is their first gig (i think) and they have a long way to go and hone their skills, find their sound and all that jazz. Necrophilia displayed a penchant for Cannibal Corpse territory with their own composition, a good start for a new band. The vocalist also laid bare a whole vocal range, which is a plus. Necrophilia definitely has a lot of potential once they start moving away from catchy rhythms and start messing with time signatures.

Cryptic Stench on the other hand is also new band to my eyes and ears. Their set consisted of compositions from various genres, they also did a decent death metal cover of Iron Maiden's 'Fear of the Dark' which didn't go down too well with the underground audience. The vocalist has some crazy set of pipes, he sure can wail. The band has a lot of talent, no doubt but their potential can only be realized once they start searching for the sound.

All I can say is that its a promising start for Necrophilia and Cryptic Stench, worth all the effort they put in because it is not too easy starting an extreme metal band in Bangalore (or in India, for that matter).

Undergrind V was an awesome experience which lived up to the expectations and beyond, the participant bands have displayed more potential and promise with every underground gig and doesn't seem to slow down at any rate. Further one could expect now is a slew of album releases, EPs, Splits, Compilations and stuff like that. And definitely more bigger and badder underground gigs.

The word is out that the Undergrind label is in the works along with an idea for setting up a real platform for releasing underground material from Bangalore and other cities as well. The new undergrind site will be up in a couple of months, I'll be doing writeups for featured artist, interviews, album reviews and stuff.

I sure would like to see some comments from readers who were at Undergrind V (or wish they were).

At the end of the day, there were photo sessions, interviews, hanging out and what not. I'll post more later, there's an abundance of material waiting in terms of pics, videos and stuff.

Parting Shot:
Here are a couple of videos from the last and previous Undergrind gigs.

The Undergrind I collage:

Necrophilia at Undergrind V

one more video of Necrophilia at Undergrind V

Vikram Bhat of Gruesome Malady fame with his take on Grind!

Gutslit live at Undergrind IV 2008

Bad Taste at Undergrind IV (2008)

Shit Assault at Undergrind IV (2008)

Shit Assault (2) at Undergrind IV (2008)

Bad Taste (2) at Undergrind IV (2008)

More videos and images from Undergrind V coming up...

I have one major problem with metal gigs, once the gig is over, the life goes downhill for some time... and with Undergrind the aftermath is more severe downhill!

More to come... \m/


Rock Ethos II

Ok, there's not been enough information about this event in one place online. There have been hoardings everywhere since a few days but people are calling up to ask me the details of this event, I am in no way affiliated to the organizers or anything. I have collected all the available info, from various sources online, Facebook event pages, mailing lists and the compilation is as follows:

"Bangalore's Rock scene goes on a high again... "
Host: Buenos
Saturday, March 14 at 12:00pm
Sunday, March 15 at 10:00pm
Bangalore, Palace ground, Mekhri Circle entrance

info from their event page:
Bangalore has never rocked so before. Rock Ethos, the first ever Indian metal fest to feature original rock music of Bangalore has been unanimously hailed as 'one day indigenous India's Woodstock'. Descending on delirious rock fans in all its electrifying impact, it stirred up India’s rock scene into a blaze of frenzy that left the city asking for more.

Venturing into unexplored territory of showcasing exclusively original rock music, the event proved to be a smash hit as proved by the huge crowd that thronged Palace Grounds for the 10-hour Indian rock cornucopia.

Rock Ethos ’09 keeps the spirit of rock flying high with a two-day festival replete with double the number of rock bands. Stage effects, lighting and sound will reach for hitherto un-scaled heights, in keeping with the promise of creating a memorable impact each consecutive season. In no way subjacent to an international rock fest, Rock Ethos 09 ushers in an energetic mood, refreshing spirits jaded with negativism of recent times.

The band list:
  • Catalyst
  • Culminant
  • Schikados
  • Eccentric Pendulum
  • Whitenoiz
  • Stond
  • Illuminati
  • Today's Special
  • 5 AM
  • Abandoned Agony
  • Shamans
  • Theorized
  • Slain
  • Divine Connection
  • Motherjane
  • Myndsnare
  • Bhayanak Maut
  • Galeej Gurus
  • Kryptos
  • Infernal Wrath
Entry to the venue is free but do carry an extra buck to pick up some cool band merchandise apart from lip smacking food and tons of games.

More details here along with links to every band's MySpace page. And also check out the official RockEthos site which is up at last.


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