OK, it was in the year 1988 that Millennium were formed, igniting the first sparks of what would become a full-fledged underground music movement in the years to follow. Coincidentally, the writer of this note was born in 1988 as well, but that is of little consequence. It has now been almost 24 years ever since, and the number of metal bands playing original music in our country is undeniably large. But can this nation join the ranks of the UK, US and the other European nations as a permanent bookmark in the world metal atlas? I honestly believe it can. And here’s why:
- GIGANTIC NATION: By area alone, India is Asia’s 3rd largest and the world’s 7th largest nation. However, area matters little when there aren’t enough people. But India need not complain about that because its the 2nd largest in the world by population. Now, metal is an underground movement (something we patrons are very proud of) but consider this: if every 1 in a 1000 people in India is a metal head, and the last confirmed population of India being 1.2 billion i.e. 1,200,000,000/1000…that’s 1.2 MILLION metal heads in our country alone. A long shot you say? OK, let’s HALVE that number, shall we? That is 600,000 (or if you prefer the Indian place value system, 6 LAKH) metal heads in our country. And this is not including all the numbers of tourists who come by which could throw up a few metal heads as well. Bottom line: A lot of potential. The fact that you are a metal musician in a country of such statistics is a gift. Exploit it. How?
- CYBER NATION: As futuristic as this may sound (and while India’s internet speeds are still quite low), India is quite well connected through the internet. There are, as of now 43.5 million Indians on Facebook (which BTW, ranks #2 in statistics by nation). There are tons of Facebook pages and groups about Indian metal. Websites like Headbangers India, Indian Rock MP3, Metalbase and Metal India E-zine are constantly revealing news about the happenings in the ‘scene’ (yes, a lot of us refuse to still call it that). So much so that it now becomes quite inane to see 50 entities on your FB newsfeed sharing the same thing. As a band, USE and ABUSE this gift. Look at Sahil Makhija of Demonic Resurrection as an example: the guy has not pulled any stops on Myspace updates, Google updates, Facebook updates, Twitter updates, updates on the website, organizing events, constantly reminding everyone about DR’s catalogue….you name it. He does it. If every band did the same thing, so as to keep the fans informed, it would do them quite a bit of good. The internet is a gift, and its great to see more and more bands perusing it.
- TALENTED NATION: OK, this section is quite subjective and is a personal opinion but it would be a lie to say that a TON of others don’t share parts (or all) of it. INDIAN METAL BANDS ARE A TALENTED BUNCH. I see Amogh Symphony’s experimental fusion of tech-death,Indian fusion music and electronica as something that beats most modern-day tech-death metal bands to a pulp. When I hear Eccentric Pendulum’s crafty progressive metal, I immediately hear something I have never heard before from ANY band in the world. Kryptos is one of the few bands in the world that still plays traditional heavy/thrash metal, and DAMN do they play it well. All in all, when I hear a lot of Indian bands, I hear dedication to the music. I notice a desire to play and record and distribute their OWN music. One can safely say that the age of playing covers is almost GONE. Bands don’t hit the stage till they have practiced enough songs of their own, and that’s a GREAT sign. It is not always so and there is a ton of bands that I find extremely untalented but again, that is personal choice. But then again, if you love what you are doing but are objective enough to your own creations, you will get better and better.
- OUTSIDERS KNOW US A BIT BETTER NOW: FACTS: Demonic Resurrection have played in Norway and Czech Republic. Eccentric Pendulum have played at Wacken 2011 and will play in France, Spain and Portugal this year. Blind Image have toured Australia and are all set to tour South East Asia. Both Skyharbor and Albatross have collaborated with artistes like Marty Friedman (ex-Megadeth) and Niklas Stalvind (Wolf) respectively. OTHER FACT: So far, 66 international metal bands have played in India since 2007, out of which at least half are of great international repute. With shows like Bangalore Open Air and the supposed Judas Priest and Saxon double bill lined up, things are only going to get better. BOTTOM LINE: People from across the world have heard (of) our bands. With the internet, this info can spread wider. Again, if bands keep updating people online and making their music available to be heard online, more and more people from across the world will like your music and would want to see you live in their respective countries. More and more internet radio stations and podcasts are already playing Indian metal bands on their roster regularly. Also, a few internationally signed bands does not hurt either.
- DEDICATED FAN BASE: 5 years ago, the author of this note would not have written this paragraph. However, after seeing a lot of examples of purchases being made of Indian metal CDs, I would say that the number of people willing to buy music, merchandise and pay for gigs is rising. It is still low, but it is rising. And that’s a good sign. A VERY good sign. Another good sign is that fans are becoming critical of Indian metal. Not worshipping it blatantly. This helps the band(s) in question to know what is wrong with their music and change things accordingly. I am based in Singapore right now and while I don’t want to badmouth another country, I have seen the low support that bands here get (and metal fans here acknowledge that). Unless they are Rudra or Impiety, its mostly friends and ‘friends-of-friends’ buying albums and merch. Again, we are a Gigantic Nation, so spreading awareness can only be a good thing. The number of event management and artist management companies here is also seeing a slow but steady rise so things are definitely looking up.
Yes, there are still the ‘downloading bastards’ and the ‘free pass’ snatchers. Yes, there are the snobbish and deluded bands who believe they are just too amazing to listen to anyone else. Yes there are still venues that won’t pay you, labels that will screw your happiness and gigs that will get cancelled or have next to no crowds. In short, we still have a long way to go. It will need time and awareness. And more and more people are giving it the former and getting the latter. I personally believe that while we still can’t call it an ‘Indian metal scene’, we are definitely inching towards it.
To all bands: There are a million reasons to stop doing this. There are a lot of uphill struggles but there is also this fact that this is what you LOVE doing and won’t settle for much else. Keep the faith in yourselves and your music and, as Warbringer put it: wake up…DESTROY!!!!