An international outfit formed of members from India, Austria and the UK is ready to bring doom to us all with their heavy and dense new album.
What started back in 2019 as a one-man project evolved into an international three-headed beast part Indian, part Austrian and part British that’s ready to crush your damned souls with their undisputed extreme music. I’m talking about Antim Sanskar (referring to the funeral rites in Sikhism, as antim means “final” while sanskar means “rite”), an Atmospheric Doom and Black Metal entity comprised of Sunay Bhat on vocals, Riccardo Veronese on rhythm and lead guitars, and Desderoth on bass, keyboards and drums, who has just released their debut full-length self-titled album. Recorded, mixed and mastered by C.P.P at W.I.E Studio, featuring a minimalist cover art by Sunay Bhat himself, and band logo design and commissioned art design by Dandi Iskander, the album consists of seven tracks embedded with skull-crushing riffs, painful melodies and heartfelt lyrics presented with a blend of clean vocals and harsh growls, dealing with somber themes such as depression, loss, regret and death and, therefore, being highly recommended for admirers of the darkest and most melancholic side of doom.
The cryptic piano notes by Desderoth in the intro Funeral Without Goodbyes will penetrate deep inside your mind before gentle acoustic guitars kick off The Feral Child, earlier released as “Asylum” for Sunay’s solo project Window of Doom. The song has been completely reworked and rereleased, resulting in almost 10 minutes of melancholic Doom Metal presenting deep, visceral gnarls by Sunay beautifully supported by the sluggish beats and ethereal keys by Desderoth, as well as elements from Funeral Doom to make things even more obscure. Changing gears to a more introspective and melodic vibe, Embers of the Ancient Flame offers the listener Sunay’s dark, clean vocals accompanied by the classic piano by Desderoth, evolving into a Melodic Doom Metal extravaganza spiced up by the stunning guitar lines and solos by Riccardo.
Then in the cinematic, instrumental Interlude the music blends majestically with the sound of the storm and the Gregorian chants in the background, setting the tone for Window of Doom, showcasing darkly poetic lyrics declaimed by Sunay (“In her withered bosom / She held a bed of thorns / Yearning to fall asleep, / Lay there forever / Allow the time to fade / Slip into eternal darkness / The only friend she knew / To sink in grief”) while the music offers a fusion of classic Doom Metal and Funeral Doom thanks to the spot-on beats and guitars by Desderoth and Riccardo, respectively. After such intense aria, phantasmagorical keys will crawl under your skin in DRC, exploding into a massive Doom Metal sonority where Riccardo is on fire with his wicked riffs, sounding very unique and disturbing from start to finish; and last but not least, it’s time for the trio to deliver a more infernal version of their doomed sounds in Die, Decay, Disintegrate, with Sunay roaring in a deeper and more demonic way while the guitars by Riccardo sound utterly metallic.
In case you’re curious to see how the collaboration between India, Austria and the UK resulted in first-class Atmospheric Doom and Black Metal, you can enjoy the album in its entirety on YouTube, but of course in order to provide your utmost support to the guys from Antim Sanskar go check what they’re up to on Facebook and on Instagram, and purchase a copy of their newborn opus from their own BandCamp page (and don’t forget to visit their online merch store as there’s a lot of cool stuff there waiting for you). In a nutshell, the music crafted by Sunay, Riccardo and Desderoth in Antim Sanskar is truly unique and captivating, proving once again that good metal music has no boundaries, and leaving us eager for the next step in their short career in our world of death and doom.
Best moments of the album: The Feral Child and Window of Doom.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2021 Independent
Track listing 1. Funeral Without Goodbyes 2:56
2. The Feral Child 9:51
3. Embers of the Ancient Flame 7:49
4. Interlude 2:48
5. Window of Doom 8:12
6. DRC 6:01
7. Die, Decay, Disintegrate 4:54
Band members Sunay Bhat – vocals
Riccardo Veronese – rhythm and lead guitars
Desderoth – bass, keyboards, drums
Immerse yourself in the debut full-length opus by four Indian metallers who are not afraid to experiment with the new and the unknown, always ready to push their own boundaries in heavy music.
Formed in late 2011 in Bangalore (also known as Bengaluru), the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state, Avantgarde/Progressive Metal entity Orchid is a four-piece band comprised of Kaushal on vocals, Vinay on the guitar, Rahil on bass and Mayur on drums that plays a dense and very distinct blend of Heavy Metal with several other genres and styles such as Progressive Rock, Hardcore and Psychedelic Rock leanings (as well as Mathcore), pushing the boundaries of heavy music in the subcontinental underground and remaining one of the most original bands to emerge from the region.
In 2016, Orchid released their much-awaited self-titled debut EP to critical acclaim with Rolling Stone India calling it “one of the best cult classics of 2016” and “one of the most intriguing metal releases of the year”, inspiring the guys to keep moving forward and keep spreading their distinguished music to all four corners of the earth with their debut full-length opus Miasma, an album tailored for fans of bands like Dillinger Escape Plan, Gorguts and Frank Zappa, among others. Unlike their previous EP, which touched upon themes of techno-surrealism, Miasma is more straightforward with sociopolitical themes, with the artwork, done by the band’s own drummer through Copycat, containing elements from every song on the album.
An enraged scream by Kaushal kicks off the low-tuned, sluggish and heavy-as-hell opening track Obsolescence, with Vinay delivering lancinating riffs while Mayur brings tons of intricacy and dementia to the musicality with his beats, remaining crazy, vibrant and unique from start to finish, whereas in Solipsist we’re treated to two and a half minutes of top-notch Progressive Metal where Kaushal growls and roars manically while Vinay and Rahil give a lesson in progressiveness and heaviness with their stringed weapons. Then we have Master Supreme, a short and sweet headbanging tune led by the crushing drums by Mayur, bringing to our avid ears the most insane elements from Progressive and Groove Metal. “The song is about the pervasive influence and the growing epidemic of gurus/godmen and their cults in Indian society as well as abroad. Religion and spirituality is the biggest scam in the world; and because we live in India, we have a front-row seat to the circus,” commented the band about this austere and captivating song.
After the shortest song of the album, it’s time for the longest one, titled Dead End, offering seven minutes of insanity, rage and eccentricity. In other words, a full-bodied sonic extravaganza full of breaks and variations, not to mention the beautiful Jazz-inspired passage featuring guest Aadarsh Subramaniam and his old school keyboard solo, building an instant bridge to the also pulverizing Identoid, where Rahil extracts truly thunderous roars from his bass while Mayur and Kaushal “duel” to see who’s the most aggressive and demented one, maintaining the album at a high level of ferocity and intricacy. Following such fun tune we have Sugar Pill, showcasing the most progressive of all starts but quickly morphing into a sonic onrush of crisp guitar riffs, Hardcore-inspired drums and raspy growls, fading into a very alternative and sluggish outro, before Zero-Sum Game comes crushing like a thunderbolt, already beginning in full force and bringing a violent Kaushal on vocals, while Vinay keeps firing his classic and slashing guitar lines in a lesson in modern-day Progressive Metal with Avantgarde Metal and Mathcore nuances. Lastly the band offers us all Disassembly Line, not as vibrant and crushing as all previous songs but still a good sample of all the madness the quartet can blast through their music, with highlights to the once again amazing job done by Mayur on drums.
In a nutshell, the guys form Orchid were able to condense all their skills, influences and rage in a very intricate and solid way throughout Miasma, placing their brand new album as a fresh option for fans of heavy music who are always in pursuit of bands that think outside the box and that are not afraid to experiment with the most distinct music styles and genres. Having said that, what are you waiting for to show your support to those Bangalore-based metallers? Go check what they’re up to on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their music, and purchase Miasma directly from their BandCamp page as well as from Instamojo. I bet you’ve never thought metal music made in India could sound so insane and eccentric like this, right?
Best moments of the album:Obsolescence, Dead End and Zero-Sum Game.
Worst moments of the album:Disassembly Line.
Released in 2019 Independent
Track listing 1. Obsolescence 5:54
2. Solipsist 2:34
3. Master Supreme 1:10
4. Dead End (feat. Aadarsh Subramaniam) 6:59
5. Identoid 2:47
6. Sugar Pill 4:22
7. Zero-Sum Game 4:32
8. Disassembly Line 3:48
Band members Kaushal – vocals
Vinay – guitars
Rahil – bass
Mayur – drums, percussion
Aadarsh Subramaniam – keyboard solo on “Dead End”
Committed to pure, unadulterated, lightning-fast, ear-shredding, thrash-influenced Death Metal, this promising Indian act is ready to kill with their crushing and groovy sophomore EP.
From their inauspicious origins in 2015 in the city of Hyderabad, the capital of southern India’s Telangana state, within a very exotic metal music scene, Death/Thrash Metal squad Godless slowly rose to the very top of the country’s Death Metal class thanks to their unapologetic commitment to pure, unadulterated, lightning-fast, ear-shredding, thrash-influenced Death Metal. Comprised of Kaushal LS on vocals, Ravi Nidamarthy on the guitars, Abbas Razvi on bass and Aniketh Yadav on drums, Godless had an amazing year in 2018, having won the Wacken Metal Battle India, having played at the iconic Wacken Open Air as the great prize of the competition won, and having released their sophomore EP, a thrashing and groovy beast entitled Swarm.
Featuring a dark and devilish artwork by Khaos Diktator Design, Swarm deals with controversial themes such as zombification, cosmic horror, reanimation of the dead, occultism and religion. “We actually started to work on the Swarm EP right after our debut EP Centuries of Decadence. We didn’t really have any direction in mind but wrote the song Infected by the Black. Things naturally took on a more aggressive, thrashier and faster direction, and we just continued the flow from there on for the rest of the EP,” commented the band about their new album, inviting us all to slam into the pit and roar together with them on their quest for extreme music.
The soothing sound of water blended with cryptic, otherworldly noises in the intro Exordium set the stage for Godless to decimate our senses in Infected By The Black, blasting a more demonic version of the already heavy-as-hell Trash Metal by their countrymen SystemHouse33, and with Kaushal barking and roaring like a beast in a true Death Metal style while Aniketh pounds his drums frantically and with tons of groove. Following such pulverizing start we have From Beyond, another brutal tune blending the most electrifying elements from Thrash, Death and Groove Metal where Ravi’s riffs sound as metallic and piercing as possible, accompanied by Abbas and his menacing bass punches.
Then growling deeper and deeper like a rabid creature, Kaushal leads his henchmen in the fulminating Deathcult, presenting a crisp and thunderous sonority thanks to the fantastic sync between Abbas and Aniketh, not to mention Ravi’s incendiary guitar lines. Put differently, this is old school Thrash Metal infused with the most carnivorous elements from Death Metal, for the absolute delight of fans of extreme music. And last but not least, with the help of guest guitarist Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlager (Obscura, Despotic, NYN), the quartet unleashes hell upon humanity with the thrashing and infernal tune Empty Graves, where Kaushal goes full Death Metal on vocals while Aniketh sounds like an unstoppable stone crusher on drums, bringing total chaos in the form of music to end the EP on a high and visceral note.
All the devastation and groove brought forth by Godless can be better appreciated by following them on Facebook, by subscribing to their YouTube channel, by listening to more of their music on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing Swarm from their BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from iTunes or Amazon. Because you know, whenever you feel the urge to slam into the circle pit and scream like a beast to the sound of crushing Death and Thrash Metal, you can count on this promising Indian act to provide you the perfect soundtrack to that.
Best moments of the album:Infected By The Black.
Worst moments of the album: None.
Released in 2018 Independent
Track listing 1. Exordium 0:51
2. Infected By The Black 3:33
3. From Beyond 3:44
4. Deathcult 3:24
5. Empty Graves (feat. Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlager) 3:50
Band members Kaushal LS – vocals
Ravi Nidamarthy – guitars
Abbas Razvi – bass
Aniketh Yadav – drums
Tom “Fountainhead” Geldschlaeger – guitars on “Empty Graves”
Let’s turn up the heat on this last month of summer here on The Headbanging Moose with some old school, gory and extremely violent Death Metal, and in order to do that in style we have “recruited” the unstoppable Mallika Sundaramurthy, frontwoman for American Technical/Brutal Death Metal band Abnormality, as our metal chick of the month. Born in Gardner, a city in Worcester County, Massachusetts, in the United States, but currently residing in Prague, the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic (or Czechia), Mallika is not only the owner of a potent voice, but she’s also absolutely passionate for all things Death Metal, being a huge supporter of underground metal as a fan, as a musician and as a businesswoman as well. Having said that, get ready to slam into a vicious circle pit together with Mallika, because things are about to get as savage and heavy as hell.
Half Indian and half English-American, with her father coming from Chennai, the capital of the state of Tamil Nadu on the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, and her mother being from New Hampshire, a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, Mallika is married to Russian musician Serge Gordeev, from Death Metal bands like Epicardiectomy and Fleshbomb. As you can see, pure Death Metal runs through the veins of the couple, which led to the creation of their own label Ultimate Massacre Productions. But before we talk about their label, let’s focus on the early days of Mallika, who has been playing in Death Metal bands since 2002, a couple of years after she graduated from Gardner High School, located in Gardner, Massachusetts. While Mallika was giving her first steps in extreme music, she was at the same time studying illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, in Boston, Massachusetts, which she graduated in 2004. And that knowledge she gained through her studies was not in vain, becoming a fundamental part of her up-and-coming career.
Regarding her career as a musician, Mallika got into Heavy Metal during her high school years. In the beginning, Mallika was more into classic rock and metal the likes of Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Alice in Chains, with her taste for heavier and more brutal music growing after she started listening to the pulverizing Death Metal by Deicide and Cannibal Corpse. By the way, becoming a fan of Death Metal was the main reason why she decided to do extreme vocals, which is pretty much the same path followed by anyone who chooses to play an instrument based on their favorite bands and styles. And just as a side note, our ruthless growler joined her first metal band while studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, but there aren’t any details available online about that part of her career.
What you will for sure find online are all details about her history with her own Death Metal band, Massachusetts-based squad Abnormality, formed in late 2005 by Mallika together with guitarist Jeremy Henry, drummer Jay Blaisdell and guitarist Michael O’Meara (who left the band in 2009), with bassist Josh Staples joining the band in 2009 and guitarist Sam Kirsch in 2015 to complete their current lineup. The band strives to make high quality extreme music without worrying about conforming to certain boundaries or styles, having released to date a four-track demo in 2007 (including the song Visions, which found its way onto the popular video game Rock Band 2 as a bonus track), a three-track EP titled The Collective Calm in Mortal Oblivion in 2010, and the full-length albums Contaminating the Hive Mind in 2012, and Mechanisms of Omniscience in 2016. If you want to have a very good taste of all the brutality and electricity flowing from the music by Abnormality, you can check for instance their official videos on YouTube for the songs Mechanisms of Omniscience, Monarch Omega, and Fabrication of the Enemy, or even take a more detailed listen at their full discography at their own BandCamp page (which obviously means you should also buy their albums from there). Furthermore, Mallika mentioned in one of her interviews that Abnormality did a cover version for the classic Desperate Cry by Sepultura at the formation of the band when she joined a band named Teratism on stage, impressing their then members Jay and Michael (culminating with the creation of Abnormality, as you can see), also playing other cover songs live over the years such as Eric Clapton’s Cocaine and Death’s The Philosopher, but never including any of those in their recorded material. Finally, one last interesting note about Abnormality is that their first concert ever happened in 2006 at a house party organized by their drummer Jay, including the bands Dehumanized, Sexcrement and Soul Remnants. That was probably one hell of a demolishing Death Metal party, I must say.
Apart from Abnormality, Mallika, who takes care of her potent voice by doing usual things like getting proper rest, keeping her throat hydrated and avoiding alcohol, is also the frontwoman for American Death Metal all-female band Castrator, an international project formed in 2013 and based in New York City with members from distinct parts of the earth such as Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Colombia and the United States. As you can see by the name of the band, Castrator is a confrontational band, with all of the song titles found in their 2014 demo and 2015 EP, both titled No Victim, being some sort of feminist revenge fantasy, such as Honor Killing and The Emasculator. Mallika explained that the band was born when her friend Carolina Perez, drummer for American Death/Thrash Metal act Hypoxia, expressed the desire to form an all-female band, aiming at writing aggressive music, playing some devastating concerts, and have fun together above all things. She also mentioned it was important to bring up through the horror and intensity of their lyrics the issues and struggles women from all over of the world face every single day, in particular parts of the world where women’s rights are far behind. When writing the lyrics, Mallika researched and read countless stories and documentaries of individual cases of honor killings, as well as violence, rape, and murder against women, translating all that hatred and negative thoughts into Death Metal lyrics. In order to be smashed by Castrator, go check their BandCamp page, where you’ll be able to listen to (and to buy) the austere and utterly brutal tunes Honor Killing, No Victim and The Emasculator.
Our relentless growler was also part of American Technical/Brutal Death Metal band Parasitic Extirpation from 2011 until 2015, with whom she recorded the EP Putrid Crown, in 2014. You can enjoy Mallika kicking some serious ass in this also very interesting band with the title-track Putrid Crown, and all other tracks directly from their BandCamp page. And even with all her duties with Abnormality, Castrator and Parasitic Extirpation, she still found time to be part of several other bands and projects as a guest musician, like singing live for British Technical Brutal Death Metal unity Unfathomable Ruination, in 2017; and being a guest studio singer in the songs Circumcised with a Chainsaw, from the 2013 album Skewered in the Sewer by Indian Brutal Death Metal act Gutslit; the title-track The Redemption of Past Supremacy, from the 2012 album The Redemption of Past Supremacy by American Brutal Death Metal act Habitual Defilement; Endless Outrage, from the 2016 album Ouroboric Stagnation by International Brutal Death Metal act Neurogenic; Dies Irae…, from the 2013 album Lords of Rephaim by America Brutal Death Metal act Pathology; Tower Deflower, from the 2012 album Festering Human Remains by America Death Metal act Scaphism; the superb cover version for Pat Benatar’s Heartbreaker, from the 2014 EP XXX Bargain Bin Vol.2 by American Death Metal act Sexcrement; and Incinerator, from the 2013 album Black and Blood by American Death Metal act Soul Remnants. As you can see, all those songs are beyond brutal and demolishing, exactly the way good Death Metal is supposed to be.
With respect to Mallika’s main influences in music, she’s a diehard and longtime fan of several renowned acts of the Extreme Metal scene such as Suffocation, Gorgasm, Decapitated, Immolation, Cryptopsy, Cannibal Corpse, Monstrosity, Carcass and Morbid Angel, among several others, with American Death Metal masters Hate Eternal, standing out among their influences if you take a detailed listen at their music. Questioned about which album she would take to her own grave, Mallika answered Pierced from Within, released in 1995 by American Technical Death Metal band Suffocation, and while listening to that album it makes total sense as to why she handpicked it instead of tons of other classics. Needless to say, Suffocation would obviously be part of her dream metal fest lineup, also including bands such as Immolation, Deeds of Flesh, Cryptopsy (with Lord Worm), Origin, Malignancy, Monstrosity, Vader, Gorgust, Wormed, Defeated Sanity, Napalm Death, Incantation, Vile, Decapitated, Hate Eternal, Nile, Krisiun, Devourment, and so on. And lastly, when asked to list the five albums any metalhead must have in his or her collection to have a deeper understanding of what Brutal and Technical Death Metal is all about, Mallika selected Close to a World Below by Immolation, Effigy of the Forgotten by Suffocation, Altars of Madness by Morbid Angel, She Lay Gutted by Disgorge, and Masticate to Dominate by Gorgasm. Also, when questioned about what inspires her and the rest of Abnormality when writing their lyrics, she said that the whole band enjoys writing about current events at home and abroad, conspiracies, and their contempt for the New World Order, as well as other things in their lives, in their imagination, science fiction and fact, corruption, and time travel, always focusing on the darker side of humanity and never afraid to take a political stand. Of course, Mallika considers real life horror far worse than anything imagined in fiction, albeit she also thinks those monsters in fiction reflect that same dark side of our own humanity and the evils that we are capable of.
Mallika’s business side together with her utter passion for extreme music are an essential piece of Ultimate Massacre Productions, an extreme music label managed by Mallika herself and her husband Serge Gordeev, originally founded in 2012 by Serge as a licensed merch supplier for metal bands. After her arrival and after taking on Mexico’s Human Decomposition as their first signed band, the project propelled to a new and promising direction, which could be seen in her own words at that time. “We thought it would be great to build the label together, combining our collective experience and passion for music to grow Ultimate Massacre,” she said, also mentioning that “our main goal is to spread great music that we ourselves love, and to help the bands on our roster to reach new levels.” Mallika and Serge work endlessly for the joys that art brings with it, putting a lot of effort and passion into making the label a genuine home for underground extreme bands. Based in Prague, the label has increased their portfolio considerably through the years, including today bands such as Apophys, Incontinence, Chordotomy, Fungus, Imperium and Natrium. Hence, if you consider yourself a true death metaller, you can keep an eye at their official Facebook page for new kick-ass bands and releases from the underground Death Metal scene.
As aforementioned, Mallika is a huge admirer and connoisseur of underground metal music, saying she’s fine with a huge part of metal music staying underground mainly because it’s extreme and offensive, and therefore not recommended for mainstream listeners. However, she also said it’s extremely difficult to survive in the underground scene, as the majority of underground musicians have to have income coming from other sources such as day jobs despite their passion and dedication to heavy music. Well, having to face issues like that doesn’t seem to be a problem for musicians like Mallika, because the underground scene at least in the United States seems to be very strong to her eyes, with lots of great bands keeping the flames of extreme music burning bright in her homeland. For instance, she recommends bands like Malignancy, Disgorge, Dehumanized, Bloodsoaked, Guttural Secrete, Goemagot, Sapremia, Habitual Defilement and Expurgate for starters, and from her hometown she thinks you should take a good listen at Revocation, Sexcrement, Dysentery, Hivesmasher, Scalpel, Scaphism, Soul Remnants, and many, many more. She also mentioned she believes that classifications in metal such as Deathcore, Power Metal, Blackened Death Metal and so on are necessary to help listeners find new bands according to their likes and dislikes, as long as people are not carried away with creating new subgenres. Furthermore, Mallika has a very peculiar view on how many people nowadays end up knowing new bands through illegal downloads, as she understands that albeit illegal downloads are inevitable due to several reasons such as lack of money for buying all the music downloaded, those fans need to realize the bands depend on that money to stay alive, but as long as they support the bands in other ways like attending their concerts, buying a shirt or listening to their music for free on Spotify or YouTube, some sort of balance can be reached.
When asked about how she feels being a woman in a male-dominated scene like Death Metal, Mallika said she has always felt good, always having a good time with her bands since the beginning of her career. She mentioned there are more and more talented and hardworking women making a name for themselves in the Death Metal scene, being really proud of them and supporting them whenever and however she can. She said it’s not easy to be a woman in metal as there’s a lot of sexism in the world and even more discouragement for a woman to be part of the extreme music scene; however, she hopes one day that will end, and it will become something we won’t even think about discussing as men and women will just be equal in numbers and in talent. If you think about names like Angela Gossow, Tarja Turunen, Simone Simons, Doris Yeh, Cristina Scabbia and Alissa White-Gluz, not to mention all the other ladies who put their hearts and souls into making first-class metal music from all parts of the world, I also believe we’re not that far from reaching Mallika’s dream.
Last but not least, Mallika is as aforementioned a professional graphic and concept artist in the video game industry, having already worked for Harmonix Music Systems (the company that created the Rock Band franchise) for four years, and later becoming a freelance artist and working for a company called Techona as a graphic artist since earlier this year. Regarding her time with Harmonix, Mallika provided a few interesting details about how Abnormality got involved in the game Rock Band 2 with the song Visions. While she was working on the game together with a team of artists, the company allowed employees to submit music for consideration to be entered into the game; at first she didn’t want to do it, but the rest of Abnormality asked her to try, and in the end the company picked their music to be one of the songs of the game together with a lot less violent (or I should say not violent at all) bands like Bon Jovi, Avenged Sevenfold and Blondie. Needless to say, Mallika is not only passionate about Death Metal, but also crazy for old school Death Metal album arts, dark fantasy and surrealism, being inspired by artists such as Zdzisław Beksiński, Wayne Barlowe, and Dan Seagrave. As a matter of fact, you can easily see all that passion for abstract art and surrealism in the Abnormality album arts, all designed and created by our obstinate growler herself, as well as the cover art for the 2012 split album Phylum Morph-Apokalupsis by American Brutal Death Metal/Grindcore bands Animals Killing People and Andromorphus Rexalia, the layout and cover art for the 2016 album Eon by American Technical Death Metal band Formless, and the cover art for the 2013 EP One Inch Monster by Swedish Thrash Metal act Sonic Assault. As talented, honest and diligent as she is, being capable of screaming and gnarling like a beast with her band and of translating all the violence and gore of Death Metal into stunning album arts, it’s more than obvious why Mallika has turned into a reference in extreme music, and may she have a long and prosperous reign as our queen of guttural vocals.
“I see there are many more talented women stepping up the plate in the death metal scene. I am really proud of my fellow ladies who are kicking ass, and I call many of them friends. I DO personally go out of my way to support women in metal, especially those who work hard, carry themselves professionally, and play really well. I know it’s not easy. There is so much sexism in the world, and we women are so often discouraged from taking part of the extreme metal scene.” – Mallika Sundaramurthy
Regression might be a return to a former or less developed state, but the new album by this talented Indian act is undoubtedly the evolution of Thrash and Groove Metal.
I guess the first time I realized how crazy for heavy music people in India are was when I watched Iron Maiden’s Flight 666 documentary for the first time some good years ago. Watching around 30,000 people in Mumbai, India being completely smashed and screaming like lunatics to my favorite Iron Maiden song of all time, the unique “Aces High”, showed me there’s a lot more in the Land of Prayers than that hardly watchable Bollywood shebang. And it’s exactly from the city of Mumbai that come the demented thrash metallers SystemHouse33, who are not only releasing an amazing new album entitled Regression, but are also more than ready to conquer the entire world with their high-quality metal music.
Unleashing a rip-roaring fusion of the traditional Thrash Metal by Sepultura with elements from Groove and Death Metal (and even Melodic Death Metal), and having released four albums already in their career, this talented band has been reaching many important milestones since their inception in 2003. Always against all the odds, SystemHouse33 was the first metal band to ever emerge from the small Indian town of Nagpur, quickly spreading their Heavy Metal over several rock festivals and music events around India, including Campus Rock Idols, Metal Meltdown and Wacken Metal Battle. And before the release of the new album, those Indian metallers toured with American Death Metal icons Six Feet Under around Germany and Austria in December 2015 on their annual Xmas in Hell tour, being the band’s first ever foreign tour and becoming the first Indian metal band to tour with a legendary Heavy Metal headliner.
SystemHouse33 founding member and vocalist Samron Jude elaborates on the concept behind the new album, “Regression is the paradox of progress; it is the disintegrating world we live in. We are doing more, but feeling worse.” And let me tell you there couldn’t be better words to describe the aggressiveness and the feeling of insurgency found in every single song of the album, because right after the ominous intro Catharsis, which feels as if the band is rising from the ashes of a fallen world, we have the title-track Regression, starting their Indian onslaught the best way possible. Featuring huge doses of savagery amidst a polished and groovy rhythm, this amazing tune showcases guitarist/drummer Atish Thomas providing his “business card” in the form of some serious riffage, and you can easily sense how much he loves Groove Metal by his drumming style.
Indian brawler Samron Jude’s insane growls lead the powerful tune Lift This Plague, a solid composition perfect for banging your head nonstop where all band members are on fire, with highlights to its acid lyrics (“Pretentious flowing blood / Ignorance reaps resentment / Downward spiraling sky / Slumber of the sluggard”). Following that massacre we have the even better Namesake, one of the best tunes of the album (if not the sickest one), emanating endless electricity from all instruments. How not to get thrilled by those riffs and beats? Besides, it reminds me of the latest installments by many excellent Eastern European Groove Metal bands such as Ektomorf and Omega Diatribe. And a song named Death Chamber couldn’t sound any less visceral and obscure in a flawless display of what can be called Progressive Groove Metal, from its headbanging riffs to more progressive passages.
There’s not a single second to rest with the rhythmic and violent Detestable Idolatry, where you can feel the metallic bass chords by Leon Quadros striking you mercilessly while its contentious lyrics add a welcome touch of rebelliousness to its sonority (“Blood-filled ignorance in your soul / Self-righteous sacrifice of innocence / Slaying the name of a higher power / Shameful indulgence”). Pagan Breed is another progressive and experimental tune that never “forgets” the band’s core violence, with Samron firing anger through his harsh growls and the rest of the band doing a superb job in maintaining the ferocity of the song at a high level. Lastly, closing the album we have another berserk chant named Malicious Mind, yet again offering a potent fusion of progressiveness and old school Thrash and Death Metal. It sounds like if the band is demanding the listener to jump up and down with them, with Atish and Leon being in perfect sync with their guitar and bass lines, respectively.
I was about to give Regression a 3.5, but it honestly deserves a 4.0 for the band’s tenacity and passion for Heavy Metal in a country where almost everything seems to go against that type of music. And if you share the same passion for heavy music as the high-skilled metallers from SystemHouse33, go visit their Facebook page, YouTube channel and SoundCloud page, and grab your copy of Regression at their BandCamp page, at their official website, on iTunes, on CD Baby and many other locations. Although the word “regression” means a return to a former or less developed state, SystemHouse33 are making sure they change that concept to an evolved and exciting state of Thrash Metal with their flaming new album for our total delight.
Best moments of the album: Regression, Namesake and Pagan Breed.
Worst moments of the album: None. This album kicks fuckin’ ass.