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#ReviewRundown: July 2017

Our verdict on some of the freshest indie releases from across the country, featuring Tangents, Aswekeepsearching, Joshish and more

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Tangents – Motion/Emotion

★★★

Bengaluru and djent – not as unlikely a combo as you think considering the current crop of modern progressive rock and metal bands coming to the front in the city, including Despite Earth and fusion-benders Pineapple Express. Three-piece metallers Tangents – aided by producer Yogeendra Hariprasad and guest vocalists – have clearly got the edge for now: a sublime, crushing debut album called Motion/Emotion, that offers up spiralling rhythmic patterns (“Ira,” “Solus”), wavy basslines (“Surface”) that shine alongside ambient passages. Even though there’s some tired familiarity that recalls the likes of UK djent masters TesseracT, Motion/Emotion is worth a listen. Anurag Tagat

Aswekeepsearching – Zia

★★★½

On an upward trajectory, becoming the go-to post-rock band in the country is one thing, but Ahmedabad/Pune/Mumbai-bred quartet Aswekeepsearching have evolved into so much more – a crowd-puller, craftsmen of an experience that only a few other bands have spent many years to deliver. On their third album Zia, that sonic experience grows from cinematic, stargazing rock to vocal hook-induced (“Uns,” “Reminiscence”), prog-leaning (“And Then Came Spring”), fusion-nodding (“Sleep Awake,” “Sometime Somewhere”) post-rock. Their best addition, though, is that of Mumbai violinist-producer Ajay Jayanthi, who’s taking songs like the emotionally-charged “There You Are” and the stirring seven-minute “Kalga” to a new level. AT

Altar of Betelgeuze – Among the Ruins

★★★

Finnish doom/death metal band Altar of Betelgeuze’s second album Among the Ruins – released by Transcending Obscurity – is a vortex of hypnotizing riffs. Some that last just five minutes (less by doom and stoner rock/metal standards, anyway) and others trudge on for seven to 10 minutes, never wavering from a concrete, chunky groove. While “The Offering” is menacing, there’s the atmospheric “Sledge of Stones,” made to boot with a searing solo to close. Vocalist-guitarist Olli Suurmunne is so sublime that when bassist and co-vocalist Matias Nastolin takes over, the growls aren’t something you’d immediately like. Barring that, tune in for a slow, sludgy riff-fest like doom is meant to be. AT

Chaos – All Against All

★★★★

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What’s a good way to make your songs resonate as quickly as possible? In the literal sense, Thiruvananthapuram-bred thrash metallers Chaos know the way nearly down to a science on their second full-length album All Against All. It’s fast, piercing, nonstop riffs and snare drum-abuse that just wants to bash eardrums. The 10-track album occasionally cascades into grooves that’ll mobilize plenty of mosh pits, but otherwise remains a soundtrack to damnation – from the title track to the pummelling “Death To The Elite.” Drummer Manu Krishnan and guitarist Nikhil N.R. sound like they’re playing a game of bet-you-can’t-match-this on “Patrons of Pain,” although they each take turns hogging the limelight on the blistering “Portrait In Blood.” AT

Plague Throat – The Human Paradox

★★★★

This is one release that makes you exclaim ‘About damn time!’ simply because you know the exact potential of a studio release. Shillong death metallers Plague Throat’s debut full-length album The Human Paradox is every bit the death metal massacre that the trio showcases on stage. There’s incisive intensity on songs like “Inherited Failure” and “Dominion Breach.” The precision in the wiry riffs and walloping drumming makes every song on The Human Paradox worth losing your mind to. AT

Joshish – Ird Gird

★★★½

Mumbai “post-prog rock” outfit Joshish have been around for a decade or so, and it’s taken them two of those years to put out their debut album Ird Gird. As is the case with all things prog, there’s major attention to detail with artwork, lyrics and production. The result is a comprehensive sound that finds a space between fusion, prog and pop rock. Bassist-vocalist Sameer Rahat is powerful, but the band also lets guitarists Sanjeev Aguiar and Shardul Donde bring in star-gazing leads (on the sarangi-assisted “Ho Subah” as well as the title track “Ird-gird”) as well as righteous riffs (“Nashedi”). It feels like Joshish are out to prove that anyone who loves uplifting mainstream rock numbers can also dig a little bit of prog intricacy, aided by some ace production, but there are times where Ird Gird as a whole could do with just a little more cohesion.

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Runt – Rhymes With EP

★★★½

Mumbai singer-songwriter, guitarist and bassist Siddharth Basrur knows his hooks. Even when he’s channeling his somewhat obscure rock influences like Giants Chair and Make Do and Mend, there’s so much familiarity. Armed with fuzzy riffs (“Bad Words”), Basrur’s power lies in his vocal melodies. By the first listen, you already know you’re going to have “Home” stuck in your head. The dancier “Rip It Off” sounds a tad more indie, but turns into a chance for the guitarist to dig into some noteworthy guitar tones. The guitars wail on “Wiped Out” as Basrur challenges, “What are you waiting for?” Well, the next Runt release, we suppose.

Tanya Nambiar – Good Girls Gone

★★½


Tanya Nambiar has an undeniably good voice, as well as the ability to choose selectively from New Delhi’s ever-growing pool of sessions musicians. Her smooth vocals, coupled with a strong band behind her, should in theory make for easy listening. In theory. The problem isn’t that Nambiar’s debut solo EP Good Girls Gone doesn’t go down smooth; it’s that sometimes, it goes down too smooth, to the point where it’s almost forgettable. Across the EP’s three tracks, Nambiar’s voice adopts a Britney Spears twang, which would sound excellent if it were paired with the sort of fizzly feel-good pop that Spears is known for. Unfortunately, the rock-jazz instrumentals on the title track and “Love at First Sight” call for more full-bodied vocals, and Nambiar’s buttery crooning feel lost on the heavier sound. Earlier this year, Nambiar told Rolling Stone India that she doesn’t like “to box myself into one genre.” Given that Good Girls Gone doesn’t leave its listeners with any idea of what Nambiar’s own unique sound is, she may have been better off picking just one. Urvija Banerji

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