B69 is now a name synonymous with indoor metal gigs in Mumbai. The shady little place with the paanwala downstairs, and ‘Vasant’ the bar right across the street has now gained quite a reputation, even going so far as to host the Hacride gig, which I missed. So when I herad that Fractalline would be playing there, I dragged my lazy ass to the venue well before time. Supporting them were Vizia, Sceptre, and a surprise act.
Soundchecks etc went smoothly, though everything did get a little delayed because of the jam-packed schedule the headliners had(Fractalline had a clinic before the gig, forgive the pun) , and though it started a little late, Vizia quickly got on stage and started their set.
I hadn’t heard these guys before, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Their music was a bit of a menagerie of core-ish breakdowns, catchy melody lines and thrashy riffs. One good thing about their live sound was that the bass was coming through really well, and added to the experience. They had tons of energy, were adequately tight and had enough punch in their songs to keep the crowd interested, though the songwriting front can definitely be improved upon.
Next up were Sceptre, one of the older thrash metal bands in the city. These veterans dished out an interesting array of riffs, though most of them weren’t as audible as I would’ve like them to be. This was mostly due to the excessively muddy guitar tone. The plus point was the drums though, which came through very crisp and clean, and Sanju Aguiar(who also plays with Devoid) delivered some incredible shred-happy solos to top it off. So far so good.
Next up was the surprise act, which turned out to be none other than Bhayanak Maut, who’ll be performing at Norway’s Inferno festival this year.I’d last seen them live at GIR 2008, when they opened for Satyricon. Though I wasn’t very impressed then, the band has since sharpened their live act to a point where B69’s walls couldn’t really hold in the sound. 7 string guitars, a 5 string bass, a drummer pumping full of adrenaline, and two vocalists who have an incredible stage presence. Bhayanak Maut kicked it off with “Chakna For Church’ off their latest EP Metastasis, and the dual vocal assault, combined with the catchy, viral riffs set off a mosh that only got more intense as the song progressed. The band seemed to be intent on having as much fun as they could, as they got Fractalline vocalist Jordan for a song on stage. Seriously, three metal vocalists are better than two, and it was a treat for the ears. For another song, they got Chronic Phobia bassist/vocalist Pratika on stage, who growled out Vinay’s parts pretty well. Bhayanak Maut had stirred shit up with old favourites like ‘tit for twat’, and it was time for Fractalline to get on stage and take it further.
Enter KP with an 8 string guitar, Sandesh with a 5 string bass, and Jordan(vocals) and Ray(drums) with lots of gusto. The band started after what seemed like an okay soundcheck, but when ‘The Circle’ began, vocals were conspicuously absent on the PA. This was soon remedied, however, though the microphone issue would continue throughout the set. This did very little to mar their enthusiasm. Technical death/thrash not exactly in the veins of Necrophagist, but more along the dirty tech death sound of Gorguts/Demilich. Precise, crushing riffs complemented by some very well thought out bass lines, and it seemed odd that in spite of having a single guitarist, the sound was pretty epic. Jordan managed to dish out some memorable vocals on both ends of the spectrum, and Ray provided the precise percussive backdrop that the band needed. Moving from their more technical songs like ‘Suppressing Reality’ to songs with a more old school feel, they got the crowd moshing, and KP came down, playing right in the middle of the pit, not letting a single note out of its place, which made for a truly memorable live experience.
There were a few reasons to complain, as is seemingly inevitable with all gigs – The ‘surprise’ vocal jam when Vinay jumped on to the stage for a song turned out to be a complete failure due to the microphone not working, and no amount of juggling around with cables and microphones managed to completely resolve the issue. But the solid musicianship managed to overshadow these minor glitches, and rendered the gig a success, though I was surprised at what seemed like a mild turnover. So spread the word, and make sure you attend the gig wherever you are!
P.S – You can grab Serotura and Fractalline CD’s at the venue, not to mention Fractalline shirts.
P.P.S – Keep watching this space for a truly interesting Fractalline interview.
Here are some of the pics from the gig, courtesy Pratika Prabhune(including the one at the top). Thanks a lot!