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Shades of Retribution – Xongram (2010)

  • Review by: Adarsh Rajagopal

Many a metalhead is hasn’t heard a lot of metal coming from the east, until recently at least. One thing that’s absolutely certain you shan’t be disappointed with any band from the east that plays extreme metal. Shades of Retribution is one such band. Discovered on a random blog, I listened to them intently on reverbnation, before getting their album Xongram. Initially I assumed this was an entirely new bunch of guys, but turned out they have Vedant on vocals, who previously was a part of Delhi based death metal powerhouse IIIrd Sovereign. A bit of skepticism does reign before the first liste. firstly, all the lyrics are in Assamese, not understood by many, secondly the aforementioned lack of awareness about the bands from eastern India,. extreme metal wise.

The album somewhat lacks instant appeal, but I guess that’s true for a lot of bands that stand out. Not knowing what the songs are about, I listened to it just for the music, and the vocals. The growls, definitely a stand out, can be easily classified as death metal. The intro might seem extremely bizarre and might initially raise the level of skepticism for sure, but doesn’t take long to bring out some dashing death metal. The vocals could’ve been mixed much better. The instruments though have a some what old school tone to them, which definitely makes the band stand out from the rest of the over produced death metal you’d usually see. Musically too, the band has a seemingly original sound, and the Assamese lyrics definitely add to this. Andulon, the second song, bares a ton of old school death metal influence, which is indeed a breath of fresh air. This is soon cut off, as the next song Raktapat bears an eerie melodic clean intro, and surprises you with clean vocals. I personally think it kind of sounds like Mercenary. Extremely well done, proving the point that these guys are definitely no amateurs. The clean guitars and vocals continue into the next song as well, as if the band is demonstrating the band’s proficiency in handling variety. The lad guitars start to show a lot of life along with a load of feel. Mora Xo is where you see the return of the growls and the death metal parts as well. Left me confused, really. Not really a stand out song, just like it’s succesor Bikhatko Homaj. Xukan Borokhun again sees the return of clean vocals and acoustic guitars with a rather slowed down tempo. Though well done, I did see a certain bollywood song tune here and there. Considering the lyrics I guess it has gotta go with it, but not beyond a certain point which just makes you want to switch to the next song. The last song Bhogobat Kot, clearly the best song on the album, indeed makes you question their motives in the previous songs, when they can deliver something as aggressive as this. The album does not end on a bad note though, thankfully, heh.

Though the album is worth several listens, I really am confused about the mixing up of things, the clean songs with the heavier ones. On one hand it’s good definitive death metal, while on the other it’s singing in an obscure language resembling bollywood. Not blaming the language at all, the music more than makes up for it. But I do think the mixing up could have been better, adding clean parts in certain songs instead making them separate songs themselves, stuff like that. But on the whole nicely done. Good production, though the vocals could’ve been produced far far better, making them a lot more aggressive. A good album to trip on for a while, for sure.