So I flew back to New Delhi from Singapore on 17th December purely so I would make it in time for GIR 2010. There was no way I would be missing this one as it had not one,not two,not even three but FOUR international metal acts playing. And after having seen Chthonic and Exodus live in disappointingly tiny indoor stadia in Singapore, I was raring to get back to the open air.
The gig on the 1st day, 18th December, was scheduled for 4:30 PM. Unfortunately, the Redbull Bedroom Jam winners Colossal Figures never turned up and the soundcheck for the other bands seemed to be a whole concert on its own. So finally, at quarter to 6, Demonic Resurrection took the stage. They began with the usual intro from ‘Spirit of the Mystic Mountains’ that went into the rest of the song. From the start, the PA seemed to be cranked up to extremely high levels and there were frequent instances of peak buzzing on the speakers which took away some of the beauty of DR’s music. They then went on to play 4 more songs: ‘Bound by Blood,Fire and Stone’,’The Unrelenting Surge of Vengeance’,’Apocalyptic Dawn’ and ‘Frozen Portait’. The keyboards seemed to play hide and seek with the PA system and Daniel Rego’s guitar seemed to dampen the sound of Sahil Makhija’s guitar slightly. All in all, great energy, great original music but bad sound management. Also, Sahil Makhija didn’t seem to be having a great day with the clean vocals either.
Enter long soundcheck break. Up next: Norway’s Purified in Blood. I was a bit surprised about a black metal nation throwing up a metalcore band from the start. As soon as their set began, I realized they were no different from any adrenaline-drenched American counterpart. Their music relied almost entirely on breakdowns. There was almost no hint of a melodic riff nor any attempt at actually exploring the scale spectrum. The vocals were highly generic ‘wet-growls’ (for want of a better description), the bass seemed to be the focus of attention and they seemed to be content with the crowd hearing just one out of 2 guitars. I was told that there are actually 2 vocalists in the band and immediately I thought that it would have been a much more enjoyable set if number two had shown up as well. And then of course the evil show organizers told the band they had time for 1 more song which left a dejected vocalist Hallgeir Skretting Enoksen bidding for 5 more. In the end they got to play 2 more. Oh well, all the kids seemed to be happy to mosh to them so…
Up next were British progressive metal act Teserract (no I refuse to say ‘djent’). I had a very high expectation from these guys and they did not fail to impress. They harmonized clean,reverb-drenched guitar riffs with low-end,palm muted crunches, occasionally playing the pre-recorded clean overlay as well. Bass player Amos Williams was an experimental genius, playing slap-picks during clean sections at times, going the tremolo distance at some other times and always had an expression of complete sexual harmony with his instrument. Vocalist Dan Tompkins was just perfect with his alto strains and held notes, as well as the screams. Also, the vocal processing was really good with the reverbs and echoes ringing perfectly and blending right into the next clean guitar riff. During the set Dan also displayed his essential Hindi dictionary skills by chanting ‘behnchod,madarchod’. The band played the ‘Concealing Fate’ EP in its entirety and were definitely the first all-round awesome performance of the night.
And lastly, the main reason why I came to GIR. Though I have heard little by Enslaved, I loved what I had heard. And they were true Vikings that night as well. Grutle commanded the crowd with such power that I felt like a civvie in Asgard. The band played mostly material from their latest album ‘Axioma Ethica Odini’, which was all progressive-laced black metal with haunting keyboard ambiences as well as beautiful clean vocal strains. Their choices of rhythm and scale well extremely Nordic-inspired but were played in a very Tool-inspired style of chord slides and strums, laced with their own trademark tremolo barrages as well of course. There were few generic blast beats and more groove-laced yet commandeering polyrhythms. Also in their setlist was the now familiar almost-doom metal song ‘Isa’. All in all, Enslaved ended the night in the most epic way possible.
I returned for day 2 a bit late so I ended up missing first act Digital Suicide. I was in time for blues/alt-rock act October from New Delhi. They played a very tight set and were also surprisingly harmonic with their guitars, something that I have yet to hear from other Indian bands in the same rock genre. While their choice of beats and tunes itself was quite generic, they managed to play an energetic set thanks to their experimental,tremolo-laced style of riffing.They also released their debut album ‘Defeat the Question’ at GIR. Vocally they were quite sound but nothing special or new added to the table.
Up next were Guwahati’s Lucid Recess. They played a set of progressive rock songs full of blues and jazz influences and also bordering dangerously on metal , especially thanks to the use of a drop B-tuned 4-string bass. Their songwriting was powerful and emotionally heavy and seemed to keep a bunch of Assamese supporters quite happy and chirpy at any rate. They ended with a song that was dedicated to a friend from IQ Cannibals who had passed away the day before. The song itself ‘Save Me’, was quite an opus, clocking at at least 7 minutes.
One of the more anticipated acts of the evening, Undying Inc, took stage next. Another band with a recent album release (‘Aggressive World Dynasty’), the band was full of energy and confidence. Vocalist Shashank’s scream-growl interplays were brilliantly dramatized with emotive hand gestures, guitarist Biswarup was doing his regular solo headbanging therapy session while bass player Reuben was calmly punding away at the low end. In fact, the most interesting aspect of it was how instantaneously the moshing began as SOON as the music began. No time lag, nothing. Shashank’s control over the crowd rewarded the band with 2 very well-orchestrated walls of death during ‘Membraneous’. Unfortunately, the mic levels were so bad that they cut the highs and mids off, leaving a well-sustained scream sound like a bit more than a mew. But overall, it was a brilliantly done progressive groove/death metal show.
And finally, the band that everyone had waited for for all those performances over the 2 days, Swedish progressive metal giants Meshuggah (notice that I still refuse to say ‘djent’). Their performance was heavy, well-coordinated, brilliantly sound managed and QUICK. They wasted little time in crowd banter and just raced through the first 3 songs (one of them being the mega-ejaculator,poly-rhythm ode ‘Bleed’). Personally though, I found most of the songwriting to be extremely monotonous. They seemed to follow the same scale structure and order in each song barring ‘Bleed’. The hallmark though was percussion brain surgeon Tomas Haake, belting out those calculus-killer beats calmly behind his drum kit. Vocalist Jens Kidman had the crowd practically at his fingertips. After a brief 5 seconds of silence after finishing a certain song the title of which I am not sure of: “Delhi, do you know what just happened? Silence happened….and that definitely does not belong here. Silence is something that belongs to the library, or when you’re in the toilet, taking a shit and reading a book or something”. They ended the set with a well-timed ‘beep beep beepbeep beepbeep’ intro to ‘Future Breed Machine’ and then all the lovely hordes went back to their homes. All in all, I had a great time at GIR 2010 and I hope its a similar mega-lineup for next year. Calling Kalmah would be very nice of them.