Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eternal Warfare From The Depths Of Medieval India - DHWESHA: An Interview With Somesha Sridhara.

Putrid Ascendancy featured DHWESHA's 'Yuddabhumi' in the 'Putrid Ascendancy: Ascending True Indian Underground' Compilation'a few months ago. Since then, the quite obscure band, has risen through the ranks in the Indian Extreme Underground, emerging as one of the most prominent acts in the country.  We recently sat down with Somesha, a founding member, to elaborate on DHWESHA, and all that it stands for.

PA: How did DHWESHA come to being? Tell us about the initial stages of
the band. How hard was it, to form and sustain an extreme metal band
in a country like ours, with a very limited underground scene?

Somesha: It was roughly around March 2008 when I went on a trip to the historical sites in Karnataka.Places like Halebidu,Badami,Aihole and Hampi which was once the capital of Vijayanagara Empire.It was during this trip that the idea of somehow incorporating these themes into the music we make struck to me and I thought it'd make sense if we could write lyrics in our native language which is Kannada.As soon as I got home I started working on our first track which was "Yuddhabhumi" and recorded a draft version of it.Ajay, in a day or two came up with the lyrics and we finished the track.We uploaded the track on myspace and sent it to a few friends of ours who appreciated our attempts and encouraged us to continue with it.

PA: DHWESHA has a unique sound, a lachrymose malediction, staying true to
the roots of the art form, that is death metal. What exactly, is ‘War
Death Metal’? Could you kindly elaborate on its conceptual

Somesha: Well, we've always been fascinated with Death Metal bands who write about War like Bolt Thrower,Sodom,Unleashed and I love the lyrical themes of Caducity.To me, the combination makes perfect sense.Nothing else can be as chaotic and aggressive and with straight-forward riffs and powerful drumming it sure sounds deadly.

PA: Given the unique music DHWESHA tends to produce, we would love to
know more about your process of composition. Could you kindly  tell us
the roles each of you tend to take, while composing music?

Somesha: We completed our line up recently and before which it was just Ajay and I and we had recorded 4 tracks.At that time it wasnt really a process as such.I'd just record the tracks at home,work on them for a few weeks making changes at the same time Ajay would work on lyrics and come up with a structure for Vocals. After which we'd finalize the song and upload it for streaming.
Once we had a full line up,we started practicing the songs we had recorded and in the process considering inputs from Adarsh and Tushar and making certain changes to the songs,since the recorded tracks have programmed drums and didn't give us the flexibility that a real drummer could.So to sum it up as a process of composition, I'd say its probably the same with us like how it is with most bands,the whole song builds up on a particular guitar riff. 

PA: Songs like ‘Ugra Narasimha’ and ‘Yuddabhumi’, peremptorily bring
visions of Indian mythology, war, pestilence and destruction to mind.
Could you kindly elaborate on your lyrical themes?

Somesha: Our song "Ugra Narasimha" is based on the story of Hiranyakashipu,an Asura(Demon) who seeks Immortality.During his attempt to kill his son Prahlada for opposing him in his thirst for power, has himself brutally killed by Narasimha (Avatar of Lord Vishnu)."Yuddhabhumi" as the title suggests is all about a Warrior surrounded by the enemy and talks of how he survives in the battlefield. The process of writing lyrics is quite tricky at times.Its a challenging task to portray the things you want to, in a native language. The issue is that you cant really write the way you speak and it takes some effort in finding the right words.We read a lot about Medieval India and look for topics which we can build songs on.

PA: You played live for the very first time. What restrictions made you
stay away from the live circuit all these years? What were the causes
of this long, self imposed insularity?

Somesha: Yes, we played live for the first time about a month ago.It was quite intimidating as we had already recorded five songs and they have been up for streaming for quite sometime.The fact the a lot of people had already heard our songs and would obviously expect us to sound the same as it is on the recorded material imposed a sense of pressure to make our debut as perfect as possible. 
Well, the main reason for not having played live for all this time was our inability to find a suitable drummer, while it was also that around two years back the live music scene in our city was dominated by bands who played new-age metal and there wasnt really a crowd for the kind of Death Metal we play.It has changed a lot since then,which ofcourse is a good sign and we have some amazing bands playing Old-School metal and whom we look upto like the primitive death cult Dying Embrace and Pillbox 666.

PA: Finally, DHWESHA is getting its due. We have come across mostly
positive reviews, especially from the metal elite. What in your
opinion, initiated this overwhelming rapport, with your music?

Somesha: Yes, its a great feeling when you get a commendable response from members of bands that you've grown up listening to or watching live.I personally think that people appreciate that we stick to the sound and aesthetics of early Death Metal and try to keep the sound of it the way its meant to be.

PA: Your song titled ‘Yuddabhumi’, was featured in our compilation,
entitled ‘Ascending true Indian underground’. As an instant
ramification, all we could hear for the next few days, were praises of
‘DHWESHA’, and its raw and powerful take on death metal. Now, perhaps
the most predictable question, which we are sure you get asked a lot.
Why sing in Kannada?

Somesha: I think the kind of riffs we write tend to blend in really well with Non-English lyrics. Although in the future depending on the kind of feel a particular song has we will write a few songs with English lyrics as well.There's probably a sense of comfort while writing lyrics in a language you speak most frequently in.

PA:As a band, what pioneering acts, have been the most influential to
your sound? What has, and continues to shape DHWESHA’s abstruse take
on death metal?

Somesha: In terms of our sound I'd say we're influenced a lot by bands like Unleashed,Dismember,Desultory,earlier albums of Amorphis and ofcourse the mighty Bolt Thrower who inspire us to make sure each of our newer material exceeds the previous ones in terms of quality and composition.We give a lot of importance to the Structure of a song.Most of our songs follow a structure similar to traditional Heavy Metal songs which comprise of a distinct Intro,Verse and a Chorus which repeats through the song.

PA: Not too long ago, DHWESHA put up all five of its recorded songs up
for download. We, congratulate you on your indomitable efforts! That
being said, we really love to know. When is Dhwesha coming out with a full length record?

Somesha: Since all of the songs we've recorded have been done at home, we thought we'd put them up for download so that people have an idea of the kind of music we play. We're planning on making demo tapes of the songs we've recorded so far.We're in the process of writing new songs and have uploaded our latest track titled "Sattva Bali" recently.Once we're done with a few more songs and play shows around, we'll probably record at a studio which we hope should be sometime in the year 2012.

PA: For some final thoughts on Death Metal,what would you define as the
genre’s greatest strengths and weaknesses? And how, as a band, have
you overcome the weaknesses, if any?

Somesha: Death Metal to us is all about agression and keeping it simple yet in a way making it sound massive.I've always been a fan of bands that make the" In-your-face" kind of Death Metal.The strength of the genre lies in the fact that it has some of the best musicians and some really good song writers with lyrical themes that range from the harsh realities of the world to fictional wars or fantasy.For a person who appreciates a form/genre of music it is tough to point out the weaknesses in it, but yes like I said earlier I like to give our songs a definite structure,slow guitar solos that deliver a sense of direction to the listener as to where the song is headed.

PA: How do you personally view the development of extreme metal in the
subcontinent, over the last couple of years?

Somesha: The best acts of metal from our country I'd say are bands formed in the 90s,when the true forms of metal were around and bands like Dying Embrace,Millenium and Kryptos started off.Its really inspiring how they pursued and made this kind of music back when there was no internet and hardly a countable number of people knew about metal and the bands would keep their sound simple and stick to a particular style which eventually evolves into their own sound, thats probably one thing that the newer bands lack.

PA: What NOSDM (Post-2000) bands would you recommend to the old guard of
the genre? Which new acts in your opinion, are worthy enough to carry
forward, the torch of extreme metal, to spread forth the insurgence
and bring forth the revival of the genre?

Somesha: The best contender for this I'd say is Deathevokation,their album "The Chalice of Ages" is one of the best Death Metal albums post-2000 and a personal favorite of mine.There are a lot of other bands who're playing Death Metal of the Old School kind like Krypts,their demo is absolutely brilliant and we have Kaamos from Sweden,Burial Invocation from Turkey,Stench of Decay from Finland and of course Disma from the USA.

PA: As mainstream metal gains popularity exponentially, we see bands
trying to outdo each other, in terms of brutality, speed, technicality
etc. It often comes down to a band being judged by the general masses
based on the ‘who plays what faster/ who can come up with the weirdest
time signature’ factor. Hence nowadays, technicality tends to dominate
a band’s music, rather than the soul, the ideology, that is required,
to play metal. Is DHWESHA a catharsis of your feelings?

Somesha: I think bands should stick to the kind of music they play and not change their sound for the masses.Death Metal was never meant to be a mainstream genre in the first place.We've all seen quite a lot of bands who've created great albums and fallen when they decided to make music "for the masses". Yes, it is a trend these days to create strange time signatures and have extremely polished production, which we're not into at all, for all we know these might just be a passing phase.Dhwesha is an outlet to the kind of music we've always wanted to play, straight out metal assault!

PA: Any personal favorites, when it comes to your coevals from the Indian
underground? Which band according to you, has the potential for

Somesha: That would be Dormant Inferno.Their EP "In Sanity" is a great slab of Death/Doom metal and it would be great if we get to play live with them sometime in the future.

PA: What kind of music did you guys grow up listening to? What exactly
made you descend into the world of extreme metal,and prompted you to
play the crushing, violent, unrelenting metal of Death you play today?

Somesha: I think most of us took the usual path of starting with Heavy Metal and eventually getting into extreme metal. I think for me it was Obituary which got me into Death Metal.I just loved the sound of it instantly and began exploring other bands in the genre which later turned out to be my favorite among the sub-genres of metal and the kind I'd want to play with a band.

PA: There’s a mandatory question we like to ask all the bands we
feature. What would be your top 5 metal albums of all time?

Somesha: Arghh! Alright I'll list my favorite Death Metal albums(to make it easier):
  1.Obituary - Cause of Death
  2.Bolt Thrower - Realm of Chaos
  3.Dismember - Like an Ever Flowing Stream
  4.Gorement - The Ending Quest
  5.Unleashed - Where No Life Dwells

PA: We, brothers at Putrid Ascendancy, want to thank you for your
precious time and support! We really wish DHWESHA all the best for its
future endeavors.. Hails!

Somesha: Its been a pleasure.Thank you.


Genre: Old School Death Metal

Ajay - Guitar/Vocal

Somesha - Guitars
Adarsh - Bass
Tushar - Drums

Putrid Ascendancy wants to express its gratitude to brother Somesha for the interview. If you have a band, and want it to be featured on our blog, write to us at

Arka Saha


Monday, November 14, 2011

Album Review: Strongblood - The Beaten Paths of Youth

Strongblood are a Black Metal band from Texas. Not much seems to be known about them, apart from the fact that they released 3 demos since their formation in 2009. Although the band name and song titles like The Sword's Gleam, The Storm, etc. might suggest some Folk tendencies, there are none here. Strongblood play Old School Black Metal with loads of Punk influences.

The demo starts off with an intro titled Woodpile, which has a melodic passage played over lots of feedback. What comes next, is completely unexpected. The listener is hit with Punk-ish, mid-paced riff, devoid of atmosphere or ferocity, but sounds evil enough to be mistaken as a Black Metal riff, similar to what was played by LLN bands like Vlad Tepes and Mutiilation. In fact, the whole production and music has a Les Legions Noire vibe to it. The riffing is mostly mid-paced, with sections of tremolo-picked Black Metal riffs. The musicianship is given a much lower priority here, since the focus is on churning out good, catchy riffs. The vocals are screamed out, and have loads of echo/delay effect on it, perfectly imitating the LLN style. Even though the band apes the style to a good extent, they manage to keep up variety in terms of songwriting. While some songs are catchy and heavy, others are dark and atmospheric. You'll Never Walk Alone stands out, being an Atmospheric song, as opposed to The Sword's Gleam, which is completely riff-oriented. Others, like The Storm and White Roses, combine both aspects in a nice way. Apart from consistently good riffing, the guitarists occasionally throw in simple, but melodic guitar solos, which is a welcome addition, since the music isn't really focusing on being savagely destructive a la old school Black/Death Metal bands. The drumming is sloppy, and is completely Punk Rock based. There are no blast beats, or double bass drumming involved here. Instead, we have drums playing in a regular pattern through most of each song, making the music as simplistic as possible. The bass is almost inaudible, and that probably makes no difference, since such simplistic music will certainly have an uninteresting bass line. (On a personal note, I never really cared about bass in Black Metal.) As mentioned earlier, the production is similar to what LLN bands had in 1990s, which is saying a lot. The guitars are laden with more feedback than Grief, and vocals have as much echo as Belketre. the production results in a hateful, but not remotely grim or evil atmosphere, but that is probably what Strongblood intended in the first place.

The demo is 40 minutes long, which is as long as a full-length album, and by the end of it, the listener might feel he's had enough. It isn't hard to tell one song apart from another, since the band ensures variety in each one's sound. There are no particularly memorable moments in the album - it just comes and goes, leaving the listener rather unscathed and unaffected, but like a lot of other demos, this one is enjoyable while it lasts. I'll probably get back to it in a week or two and enjoy it as much, but this isn't addictive enough to be heard over and over again after just one listen.

Recommended for explorers only