The Down Troddence- How are you? We are fine thank you.
Kannur-Bangalore based metal act The Down Troddence released their debut album ‘How are you? We are fine, thank you’ at the New Year Metal Factory gig at Counter Culture in Bangalore on the eve of 2014. The band has been performing their songs at all consecutive gigs since then, and after watching them live a couple of times, I made up my mind to put an end to my procrastination and get down to reviewing the album.
The Down Troddence is essentially a groove-thrash act, with very strong traditionally Indian influences. Apart from their themes which revolve around politics, mythology and folklore that have parallel commentaries relevant to modern India, their sound stems from a strong Carnatic base, which makes the metal blend a lot more interesting.
The album opens with “A.V”, a short acoustic Opeth influenced piece with an Indian percussive touch. This leads into a powerful first song titled “Hell Within Hell”. The song carries the essence of the album- catchy riffs and drawn out melodic guitar solos. The vocals are slightly overproduced, and I would have preferred if his original throaty growls had been retained, because vocalist Munz sounds very impressive on stage. “KFC” talks about animal slaughter and the issues with obesity that the ‘finger lickin’’ chicken causes. It continues the same musical pattern interjected with samples that serve as mild distractions that take the listener away from the song, and then brings them back to a predictable headbangable rhythm.
“Death Vanity” brings some metalcore into the album at this juncture, which also introduces some clean vocals in the chorus. The first one and a half minutes of the song sound pretty amateur, but thankfully, it picks up in the latter half. The song ends with an extended growl that gives it the punch that it missed initially. “Nagavalli” is one of the heroes of ‘How are you? We are fine thank you’. Progressive elements, coupled with folk touches, very carnatic-influenced guitar solos, striking drum work and strong growls make this particular track pretty much a masterpiece.
The moment “Forgotten Martyrs” begins, you recognize the signature touch of former Motherjane guitarist- Baiju Dharmajan. Despite being one of the more respected guitarists in the Indian- particularly Southern scene, he does not display much versatility in this song. His contribution is reminiscent of any other Motherjane track, and “Forgotten Martyrs” is one of those songs on the album that can be easily forgotten. “Muck Fun Mohan” starts off with a modified disclaimer about the resemblance to characters being purely intentional. What’s noteworthy in this song is the clever use of sarcastic humor to covey the frustration over the political situation in the country. “Ortniavis” serves as a theatrical instrumental prologue to “Shiva”- the song that introduced us to The Down Troddence.
A bass intro, and BANG! “Shiva” comes at you with a ferocity that you think the album might have almost lacked. The juxtaposition of the religious theme and chant with the necessary ingredients of a good heavy metal song is what makes “Shiva” a winner. “Chaapilla” concludes the album with what seems like a toned-down instrumental outro, but after close to three minutes, the guitar screeches to grab the last bit of attention it can get before the album ends!
On the whole, ‘How are you? We are fine thank you’ is a very impressive debut by The Down Troddence. There are moments when it shines, with particular tracks that the band needs to be proud of. There are also instances when the energy drops, and monotony could set in. But The Down Troddence have very clearly established their sound, proved their musical prowess and come out with an album that people will talk about even some years later. The artwork is not what you’d see in a conventional metal album, but represents the band and their music to a T. Production too is top-notch, and what makes all of this better is that the band is as good live as they are on the album. Definitely worth a buy, not just a listen!
Rating: 7.5 / 10