Infernal Wrath (July 2010)
The boundary breaking Mumbai band Infernal Wrath is the Featured Band for July. They’ve amassed repute with a repertoire of amazing live performances and an equally scintillating debut full-length – “Inside of Me”. Here at Headbangers India, we caught up with Afaque & Pradeep. I hope you’d like a long interview.
HB: Tell us all about the beginning- the formation of Infernal Wrath.
Afaque: Pradeep & JP played together in their first band ‘Disembodied Corpse’ debuting in 2001 along with Fali, Chetan (Cosmic Infusion) & Satya (Cosmic Infusion, currently Tartarus). They shared great chemistry onstage. Pradeep & JP left the band & went on to play for different bands within the Mumbai metal circuit viz. Deflesh & Demonic Resurrection. Bumping into each other at rock shows & college competitions, JP was contemplating to play with Pradeep again. Conversations became more serious in the form of Sameer (Deflesh) coming on the vocals, making the proto-line up for Infernal Wrath.
Experienced & reputed as they were, they were looking out for equally experienced musicians, if not more. Narrowing it down to Tushar (Belail) on guitars & Harshad (Belail) on bass, the line-up was ready. But creative differences led Sameer to leave the band, and the position of the vocalist was vacant.
I was a vocalist in a metal band called ‘Blood Bath Regiment’ (BBR to most people) along with Ninad Kawde (Human Abstract) & Arun (Deviod), Arjun & Akshay Thussu.
We were playing many college competitions along with Demonic Resurrection, Deflesh, Bhayanak Maut, Chaos Theory, etc. Irvin Vaz (the famed drum instructor) introduced me to JP. We worked out cover songs & he was picked.
Initially in 2005 we played as a five-piece band. Tushar left the band early on to work in Pune. Since then, we remained a four-piece till as late as 2007. We gradually introduced our compositions in a covers-set list all this while. Then Harshad had to leave the band for other commitments & could not continue. As we searched for musicians, we recorded the album “Inside of Me”. By the time the post-production was done, we had found what we were looking for in Vian (Cosmic Infusion) on bass, Amnish (Cosmic Infusion) on guitars & Sushan (Cosmic Infusion) on Keyboards.
We debuted with the current line-up at Brute Force’s Album launch gig at Mumbai in late 2008. Then we launch our album in September of 2009.
The rest is….yet to happen.
HB: You are one of the few, if not the only Indian band to have a band concept. Why so?
Afaque: I didn’t know that other bands were not concept based. We created a concept because we, as humans, wanted to express what was in our collective hearts & souls.
HB: And could you explain the concept to us?
Afaque: To begin with a quote from Nikos Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ –
“The dual substance of Christ – the yearning so human, so superhuman, of man to attain God… has always been a deep inscrutable mystery to me. My principal anguish and source of all my joys and sorrows, from my youth onward has been the incessant merciless battle between the spirit and the flesh and my soul is the arena where these two armies, have clashed and met.”
In our whole lifetime, we seek the answer to the question; what is the truth? And in search of it, we experience what we refer to as our life, with all it has to offer. In this album, the listener experiences a journey. A journey within one’s self. The goal is to reach state of realization of one’s true identity. We have only just begun, as a band, to search ourselves from within. This is our journey.
In this album, we take all that what everyone who had realised the ultimate truth within their lifetime. They have spent a considerable amount of time spreading this message. Throughout the time that mankind has existed, many have reached this pinnacle. And the rest only merely followed the literal words & actions and never comprehended the meaning of what it actually meant. When most of the scriptures are understood holistically, all of them explain the very same thing that the most important place to search for truth, the ultimate knowledge of the universe, is within ourselves.
Set to the background of the Apocalypse, this album shows the journey of this messiah – through the events that have been prophesied by these various prophets; the feelings, the emotions, the turmoil that he will go through under these extremely difficult scenarios and his realisation of his true identity.
“But who is this Messiah? Who is the leader of the last period? The one whose self wakes up, one who recognizes the human potential. He is the Messiah and he is the promise one of the latter times.”- Dr. Sir Allama Muhammed Iqbal
The Messiah is within all of us. So in a real sense, everyone is the Messiah. All one has to do is realise it.
HB: Was there a conscious decision taken to incorporate traditional and ethnic motifs and undertones in your music? Regardless, how and why did you take this direction? How important is this to you?
Pradeep: The Fact is that when we started writing songs, we never thought of any concept. All we wanted was to play “Brutal Death Metal Music”. We tried to mix a lot of different musical styles in the song so that we don’t sound like “Just another Death Metal Band”. It was a kind of an experiment.
When we talk about a Story, it has ups and downs. Infernal Wrath had five tracks targeting several special events in this album. It was a challenge to express the emotions with that kind of aggression. That’s when we decided to do something which no Indian Metal Bands has done before. We wanted to try out every possible element in this album. What we came up finally is –
• This Forever lasting Journey
• The Sword bearer
• The Creation of the Lotus
HB: Does the popularity factor influence your music in any way? I mean, I’m quite sure a bunch of Europeans would prefer listening to an Indian band with Indian elements, a different sound and different experience.
Afaque: We were not even thinking about it!
We had discussion which went in the line of “What is the current scenario which our character of the story experiencing?” or “Will this music create the right ambience?”
An Indian Rocker/Metalhead is a very difficult individual to impress. Tell me, why would an Indian want to listen to desi grooves in a metal song? The music is right off the streets of our country. There is no uniqueness in it. What makes our sound-scapes is a lot of Fakhiri-Sufiana influences which is sung by beggars on the streets! Did we ever care to listen to an Indian street musician?
We are inspired by what is around us, touching the fabric of our everyday lives. If the Europeans (as you kindly put it) like it, great!
HB: I’m particularly enamoured by your debut release “Inside Of Me”. As a listener, the conceptual content and the general feeling that is evoked by the artist is as important to me as the music at its face value. Please elaborate about the aesthetic and message that you are trying to deliver with the album.
Afaque: We live in a world today where claiming ourselves to be more literate & sophisticated, we have regressed into quasi-medieval hysteria of the battle between all major world religions. . Anywhere in the world, they are propagating an extremely narrow-minded view of religion. There has been an increasing fear that the “End of Days” is upon us and the politicians, along with the priestly class of all major religions, are using this to keep the general masses in fear and hysteria to such an extent that under pressure, the people will want and demand those Armageddon like scenarios to actually take place, hoping for that elusive ‘Messiah’ to appear and save them from their plight.
What makes this relevant to our present global geo-political situation is that most of the foreign policies that are being made, the present conflict that are being pursued, the religious lobbies are putting a pressure on the governments of their countries to make political decisions. They are pushing their agenda so that it will fulfil these prophecies & their respective Messiahs shall ‘return’.
And metal, as a mode of expression, allows one to go to extreme boundaries in thought, mood and message. Metal music has expressed its displeasure to current Abrahamic religions. But within metal, there now exists a complacency that it has to be ‘Satanist’, ‘atheist’, ‘anti-God’, ‘gory’ or just plain ‘brutal’. There is this conformist attitude that a metalhead now has, that it never steps out of those boundaries. We wish to address that as well.
So, in the light of the present scenario, we want to shed a completely different perspective, so that individuals, metalheads or not, can understand their true role.
The one of self-realisation.
HB: How has the international reception been so far?
Afaque: Well, TFS [The Flaming Skull] Podcast has sold 10 CDs in Japan. Our Myspace has favourable comments from all over the world. Metal Hammer UK featured us in their magazine along with many other metal bands from India. We have also been featured in a blog that reviewed our album.
We wish to push our music so that it reaches out to as many as possible, all over the globe. If anyone reading this can help us that, then contact us!
HB: Getting back to the album, I follow the story from Ezekiel/Hizqil and his plans about the Third Jewish Temple, its development and eventual destruction. Clearly this pertains to the Abrahamic religions and the Al Aqsa/Dome of the Rock complex in particular. How do Siddhartha and the Buddhist lotus symbolism get muddled up in this?
Afaque: Ezekeil is considered to be a prophet in all Abrahamic religions, but was also important to the mystical cults of Qabalah and other secret orders. There are many specifics that seem to underline every pagan, left-handed, right-handed & mystical sects. All of them, irrespective of when these prophecies were written, where they were written, all of them talk of one particular event – the Apocalypse and more importantly, the sequence of events preceding the Apocalypse
As a part of the events that will take place, one of the key figures that of a ‘Messiah’. A ‘Chosen One’ who will come at the ‘End of Times’ to save mankind. This expected or chosen one is given many different names by the different religions of this world.
HB: Mumbai is a big city with a prominent metal scene. How hard has it been to hit it off, get recognized and get to where the band is today? Have you had any support through your climb up?
Afaque: “Mumbai is a big city with a prominent metal scene.” Every metal-head from Mumbai might just beg to differ on that! Hahaha!! Mumbai always had issues with regular venues where bands go play live. It was at one of our gigs that Razz got permanently shut. Since then there hasn’t been a venue which we could call our ‘own’.
Interestingly we have played more shows out of Mumbai than within the city. Apart from College festivals, self-organised gigs are the only metal shows that happen. Bands end up spending money to play, just to ensure that the audiences don’t get a raw deal. Metal Brotherhood exists everywhere. The support is strong, so is the bitching!
HB: I was watching videos of “Behold Ezekiel” which were taken about 4 years back. There is a drastic change in the early Infernal Wrath as compared to today. How did this evolution take place? From the through and through brutal death metal band to the one that begins shows with Truth and its acoustic guitars and bells/chimes.
Pradeep: “Behold Ezekiel” was earlier known as “By This Sign, You Shall Rule”.
The day we discussed about doing something different with our music and working on a Concept, we started analyzing each and every part in our song. There were certain Riffs or Drum sections that we changed later and replaced with new ones. Which we thought wasn’t doing justice to the concept as well as the song. We worked really hard to get the song back in track and make it sound the way it’s supposed to be. You can listen to the break and a Guitar solo in the middle of the song, which completely took the song in to a different zone and climaxing back in to the groove.
So finally the result is “Behold Ezekiel”
HB: How have the reactions from audiences at diverse locations been so far? I know for a fact that Infernal Wrath received a dedicated following sans Rock Ethos 09, in Bangalore at least. How does that feel?
IW: It feels great! Bangalore has been interesting for us. NLS Strawberry Fields is the only competition that we have not won. But we won many hearts; our first headlining act, our first open-air show (Rock Ehos 09), in fact we ended up playing The Kingfisher Great Indian October Fest last year!!
We can easily say, “Bangalore is a big city with a prominent metal scene.”
HB: (To Pradeep) Can we expect more solos in the future releases?
Pradeep: If a song is asking for it, why not??? I worked on this album keeping the story in mind. I thought long Guitar solos will not do Justice to the songs and of course the album. I believe in Equality. Instead, you can figure out almost all the Tracks have variations as far as playing a particular riff is concerned. Most bands compose songs that have Guitar 2 and Bass guitar follow Guitar 1. It sounds boring.
When you hear the album “Inside Of Me”, all of us are doing our own work. Guitar 2 is not following Guitar 1 and so does the Bass guitar and the Keyboard. I tried to maintain a balance where the Song is going well along with the Concept.
HB: (To JP) Can you let us in on the reasons why you quit Demonic Resurrection? Any regrets?
JP: I always wanted to experiment with my music abilities. Demonic Resurrection was getting too monotonous for me. No Regrets at all. They have got a good replacement drummer and I wish them luck with their future releases.
HB: What equipment does the band use? Guitars, drums… Anything and everything gets here.
• ESP EC-1000 Deluxe Electric Guitar,
• Takamine EG-360 Acoustic Guitar,
• Laney LV-200 Guitar Amp,
• Line 6 Pod X3 Live Effects Processor,
• Electro Harmonix Micro POG( Polyphonic Octave Generator),
• Dunlop CryBaby Classic Wah Wah Pedal.
• Ibanez bass.
• Mapex Drums and Hardware, Mix of Cymbals, Axis Pedals, Yamaha Triggers, a lot of percussions.
Afaque uses his heavily abused vocal cords, made by Mother Nature.
HB: Any funny anecdotes from the stage, practice pad or tours? Any questionable activities about the band members we should be aware of?
IW: Nothing much, really. All gigs are fun gigs for us.
HB: That’s all from us. You could use this space to say whatever you’d like.
IW: Thank you very much for showcasing us once again. Please buy our cd’s, many are lying around here, no space for us. Solve Mumbai urban space problem – buy Infernal Wrath’ album!
We would also like to thank all our supporters & fans of Infernal Wrath, who helped us win Rolling Stone Best Metal Band Award. Without anyone of you, none of all this would have been possible.
HB: Thank you for this interview. We greatly appreciate the time and effort. Congrats with the Rolling Stones award. Headbangers India continues to support your band and Indian metal \m/