Is This the End of Demonic Resurrection?
The Mumbai extreme metal band play their final show in Mumbai this week before heading on their last international tour
“Salim-Sulaiman are like the Simon & Garfunkel of India.” Sahil Makhija is in his element, and insists I quote him on his hilarious musical analogy. We’re at a post-wedding cocktail dinner hosted by a mutual friend and Makhija is making the most of the situation—not many people here recognize him as Demonstealer, the frontman of India’s most popular metal band, Demonic Resurrection.
He might be sporting a rather graphic, almost gory T-shirt of Mumbai death metal band Gutslit under his blazer, but the person who calls out to him and says she’s a fan is talking about his cooking channel, Headbanger’s Kitchen. Started in 2011 as a means of bringing his love for cooking and metal together, the Demonstealer would interview bands and cook a special dish for them. Over the years, however, he tweaked it to become a recipe show that now has special focus on the ketogenic diet. He admits that like all diets, it’s a fad that will eventually run out its cycle, but he’s riding the wave – Headbanger’s Kitchen has over 11 million total views and 177,000 subscribers from around the globe. All of this – merchandize sales, ad revenue and YouTube monetization earnings – has enabled Makhija to earn a sizeable income (in American dollars, he mentions) that made him realize the potential of a web business.
Parallel to this, was the struggle Demonic Resurrection has had to endure since the release of their 2017 album Dashavatar. With the exit of longstanding songwriter and keyboardist Mephisto over creative differences in 2016, bassist Ashwin Shriyan last year and earlier this year, the departure of lead guitarist Nishith Hegde to concentrate on commercial music projects, Makhija aimed at an idealistic goal of raising lakhs for a multi-city tour via crowdfunding. Six days prior to the end of the campaign, Makhija pulled the plug, sensing it was impossible. He said in a note, “As someone who has been chasing a dream to play heavy metal music since he was 16 years old (I’m 35 now) I’m eternally grateful for all your support.”
It was a sign of a resignation in a sense, but metal bands who have survived even half as long as Demonic Resurrection have had time and circumstance catch up with them. Lineup changes, the allure of commercial gigs, day jobs and atrophied enthusiasm for metal from listeners as well as promoters. Bengaluru’s Kryptos, celebrating 20 years now, are the only other veteran metallers who carry on with a die-hard, horns-up attitude to playing and writing music.
With the demise of Makhija’s other projects such as comedy rock band Workshop and death metallers Reptilian Death, perhaps it was an eventuality to call time on Demonic Resurrection, as offers dried up and gig attendance dropped. Although Demonstealer’s new, collaboration-heavy album The Last Reptilian Warrior has been received warmly, there did seem to be a question mark on where DR would go next, after Dashavatar.
After one last show in Mumbai on April 22nd at Hard Rock Café Worli, Makhija and the band’s only other permanent member – drummer Virendra Kaith – head out for what may be their final tour of the U.K., playing 10 shows. Makhija has roped in local friends Shoi Sen on guitars and Arran McSporran on bass (from British metallers De Profundis) to serve as touring members. It’s a decision which reduces some costs for the band, but also indicates just how flexible and enterprising they can be.
There’s encouraging calls going out for everyone to see DR in Mumbai, but we hope that this is more of a much-needed break for Makhija and co., until he digs up that one riff or lyrical idea he knows will be perfect – for both, studio release and a live performance – for the 18 years he’s spent building up one of the country’s most visible metal band.
Demonic Resurrection, Gutslit and Albatross perform at Hard Rock Café, Worli on April 22nd, 2018. Entry: Rs 500. Event details here.