10 Best Metal Releases
Orchid offer avant-garde noise; Kryptos get trippier; Gutslit’s brutal assault
1. “Focus 22” by Wired Anxiety
If you’re a fan of death metal, you would preferably want it to throw a barbed-wire punch in the face from the word go. Mumbai band Wired Anxiety’s 2016 EP The Delirium of Negation was more or less the band’s vicious parting gift of sorts. “Focus 22,” which closes the EP, is a floor-shaking take on groovy modern death metal, every chug of the string taking it one step closer to being the most destructive thing you might hear.
2. “Suck On These” by Reverrse Polarity
True to their randy, cheeky selves, Mumbai post-hardcore got much-needed representation in 2016 courtesy of Reverrse Polarity’s grimy but brutal takedown. Their first studio material since their 2013 self-titled debut, it might just be that their inner kids are growing up. The record is complete with spiralling grooves, a verse with clean vocals, and vocalist Gaurav Kataria taking his growl game up a few notches, showing off he could throw down a mean verse or two rapping as well.
3. “Scaphism” by Gutslit
Let’s not forget that one of the country’s finest brutal death metal bands, Mumbai grinders Gutslit, were out of action for a year. After hearing several iterations via the online audition they held, the lead single off their upcoming album Brodequin is being helmed by Bengaluru throat-shredder Kaushal L.S. Slice and dice blastbeats meet Kaushal’s deepest, near-vein-popping growl, and it’s a sign of brutal times ahead.
4. This Burden is Mine by Demonstealer
He might have given up on comedy rock with Workshop but one of India’s most well-known metalhead —Sahil Makhija aka The Demonstealer—turned to emotive, clean vocals-led metal on his second solo album. Offering a departure from the mythic worlds of his extreme metal band Demonic Resurrection, Makhija enlists quick-draw drummer George Kollias from death metal veterans Nile to bash skins for long-ish, bruising heavy/prog/melo-death/black metal. If it was a risk, it wasn’t a stupid one, something permeates in Demonstealer’s songwriting as well as marketing mantras.
5. “Blackstar Horizon” by Kryptos
One of the curveballs on Bengaluru old school metallers Kryptos’ Priest-worshipping new album was “Blackstar Horizon,” its incendiary riffage meeting vocalist-guitarist Nolan Lewis’s snarl in a combination that has never sounded more fresh. It’s exactly the song that will get fists pumping, boots stomping, the crash of the cymbal meeting guitar harmonies. There’s nothing like driving home a solid riff, but Lewis is also singing about a cosmic night and sentient moons. This is Kryptos at their trippiest best.
6. Egress Point by What Escapes Me
Egress Point marked one of metal’s strongest debuts not only from Kolkata, but across the board. While What Escapes Me craft a sound that’s rooted in the familiarity of djent and modern metal, there’s also a fair amount of Indian classical instrumentation—a move that ultimately sets the act a cut above the rest. Whether it’s the sarangi solo on opener “Coalesce” or the inclusion of a sarod on “Section 66 Part 5,” What Escapes Me gracefully nail fusion metal minus the gimmickry.
7. “Chemical Hands” by Skyharbor
Ahead of their third full-length release and amid the buzz of their Europe and India tours, the Indian/American prog metallers dropped a soaring Skyharbor classic—“Chemical Hands” showcases Eric Emery’s operatic vocals pit against Keshav Dhar and Devesh Dayal’s riff-rattling, while drummer Aditya Ashok and bassist Krishna Jhaveri lock a groove as solid as the band’s musical standing. The single, which was accompanied by a technologically-drowned, dystopian video, is the third offering from the band’s upcoming studio album, due this year.
8. Centuries of Decadence EP by Godless
Hyderabad metallers Godless made a solid debut with four crisp blasts of death metal domination that put them straight on the Indian music map. Mixed and mastered by guitarist Joe Haley of Australian tech-death metal act Psycroptic, Centuries of Decadence packs in slice-and-dice guitarplay, pummeling drumwork and guttural vocals to craft a sound that—much like the modern-day malaise it addresses—is as bleak as it is brutal.
9. Orchid EP by Orchid
Orchid seem to baffle as much as bewilder on their debut release— the Bengaluru act conjure up four moody tracks that traipse the wastelands of prog metal, the ambient recklessness of avant-garde noise and the occasional breather of a dark, jazz interlude. Throw in surrealist horror imagery (“Civic TV”), some Lord of the Flies-esque chaos on Venus (“Venusian Death”) and the like, and it all adds up to one of the best cult classics of 2016.
10. “Banjaara” by Paradigm Shift
Mumbai-based prog act Paradigm Shift returned after over four years with an ominous, violin-laced headbanger that marked the first hint of their long-overdue sophomore album Sammukh. “Banjaara” stays true to the signature fusion sound that Paradigm Shift carved out with their claim-to-fame cover of A.R. Rahman’s “Roja” and their debut record Coalescence, even as the six-member act mashes up prog metalesque riffwork, existential lyricism and wistful violin solos.
(Releases are listed in no particular order)
Compiled by Anurag Tagat and Nabeela Shaikh