Sunday 21 September 2014

Ten Indian Metal Songs

This is a sort of taster of some of the better things to come out of the Indian metal scene.

1. First, a lesser known song from the pioneers of Indian metal, Millennium. The first Indian metal band to have a video on MTV and torchbearers for the whole Indian scene as well as the still-thriving Bangalore underground. There are more famous songs like Only Be One and Peace Just In Heaven, so for people who've only heard those big hits, here's something else, one of the most hard-hitting tracks from their self-titled album. I apologise for the sound quality.

2. Another Bangalore band, Dying Embrace brought the extreme metal ethos into the scene. Rude, crude and unafraid, they took it further than anyone else I'd heard at the time dared to. Extremity in Indian metal begins with this doom death band. Again, the sound quality is not the best, although there are better recordings by them on youtube.

3. Myndsnare was India's first and still finest tech death band, that's all there is to it. Yet another Bangalore band, they started out with a fearsome mission to take metal to new realms of precision and complexity. Along the way, they developed the songwriting chops their earliest material lacked. Here is a good example of their style:

4. Threinody stood head and shoulders above the late-90s, early-00s thrash scene in Bangalore with their tight, catchy compositions, musical prowess and hard hitting lyrics. Back after a long hiatus, they could have been titans of what passes for the local scene if they'd stuck it out, but will hopefully make up for lost time.

5. Finally, a Mumbai band! I make no apologies for my parochialism - but YMMV. In any case, this band's King Diamond-inspired horror-tale songs and the mix of thrashy aggression and classic metal in their music, along with a healthy helping of lead guitar glory, make them one of my favourite live and studio acts.

6. Another Mumbai band, Solar Deity has released three EPs of some of the finest black metal from India. They sound truly dark and massive, with a moody, melancholy edge, but without slipping into the lachrymose realms of out and out DSBM.

7. Mumbai's Dormant Inferno play intensely melodic and haunting death-tinged doom. A formidable, all-enveloping experience live, they are currently working on a new batch of recordings. In the meantime here's one of their best songs from their old EP.

8. This isn't the kind of metal I usually fancy but Amogh Symphony's absolutely insane level of technical prowess and compositional maturity make them impossible to ignore.

9. If stoner and doom metal are here to stay in India, Bevar Sea are probably responsible. Here's one of their best songs.

10. And finally, here's some battle-themed death metal in the tradition of Bolt Thrower:

Friday 12 September 2014

    brief images seen
                in dark places
        penile fish in calm water
                an albino fawn sleeping
brief words flicker
                in a darkened mind
 sad, na├»ve words
                must not forget
 salt coats the trail of
                these brief things
 these fleet things that would not slow
                or swing low
                      or let me ride
a dark room with windows open wide
                to dark sunlight a darkened
open wide to receive
                these fleet things
                             a decaying bear’s hide
                                a teeming sky
open wide to remember
                until memory flees

leaving a salted trail

Monday 8 September 2014

the bit about life is wrong

I should build a still
Like the one in Hawkeye’s swamp
My daily round of death
And life. Hard to forget the
Death easy to
Undervalue the life. Life’s
Only a novelty, like a freeze frame
Snapshot, drop of milk turning
Into a tiara
A gimmick. Gim-crack. Gew-gaw.

I should build a still
Distill oblivion for my convenience
But just one drink goes to my head
Coursing sensations of empty
Bonhomie, flint-spark love and
Joy, then ten minutes later morose and heavy-
-headed, peering into darkness in lit
Rooms until I drink another and another
And only flashes of oblivion
Like glimpses of darkness at noon
And never the night sky at last

I should build a still
Safe place somewhere high in a tree
Or deep underneath a city
I should write my will
But I have nothing to leave
And anyway I leave it all to you

I should build a still
Living beast, a magnificent monster, be
A postmodern Prometheus,
Steal the gods’ secret
Recipe, brew up a new race
Giants. Immortal. Benign.
I should.
I really should.

Sunday 7 September 2014

a poem about my father's death

A room at the end.
Tubes, machines. Mechanical sounds.
My father’s wife sings a religious song.
Faith, tears.
I found tears too.
Faith is over. A stranger from the first.
A room at the end.
Not large. Well lit.
His hair still dark. Dyed?
Still thick. Features?
Used to be handsome. Maybe still is.
Dwarfed by the bed, by all the appliances.
A room at the end.
I look at the room he lived in while
he was dying.
Wheelchair. Respirator.
Vodka bottle.
Books: westerns, history, crime, travel.
A smart brown blazer hanging by the bed.
A room at the end.
I shower in the attached bathroom.
Change into dhoti, don the sacred thread.
Gooseflesh. Shivering. First time.
Conduct the last rites.
Hypnotic. Befuddling.
Fire and water and milk and leaves.
A room at the end.
He slides along the ramp.
Into the chamber.
I go away for lunch.
Come back and am given an earthen pot.
Ashes. Bones. More rituals.
I have no connection to this.
This is not my father. This is not my ritual.
A room at the end.
I dream him into it.
A quiet place. Maybe some Debussy.
Modigliani nudes. Degas.
An easel on which waits a landscape in progress.
A bottle of vodka.
Books. I suppose that would do for him.
A room at the end.
There is always a room. And the end. We are not intrepid. Or immortal.
No mountainsides, battlefields, ocean deeps, daring sports gone wrong.
We are not intrepid in that way. In this
we are alike.

This is 
not my tribute.