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Shepherd and Death By Fungi Launch Split Album

The Bengaluru sludge band and Mumbai hardcore act have teamed up for the aggro as hell ‘Shep//DBF’

Anurag Tagat Aug 10, 2017

Shepherd's drummer Deepak Raghu and guitarist Namit Chauhan (from left). Photo: Dhruva Suresh

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Sludge, experimental hardcore, noise rock and mathcore – it’s not often you’ll hear bands in India apply all these labels to their music, let alone on one record. But you can expect all this and probably more on a ‘Shep//DBF’, a split album that sees Bengaluru sludge band Shepherd and Mumbai hardcore act Death By Fungi combining forces.

Shepherd drummer Deepak Raghu says, “I’d come across DBF’s [EP] In Dearth Of last year, and I really liked it. I thought it would be a really good fit to have our songs and their songs on the same CD, to have an album out instead of an EP.”

Within a week of releasing their new EP, Death By Fungi already had a plan set for their next EP now, with the band – drummer Aryaman Chaterji, vocalist-guitarist Vrishank Menon and bassist Kamran Raza (with new vocalist Tabish Khidir standing by) – recording with recording engineers Apurv Agrawal and Drona Acharya. Menon says, “We’re fortunate for sure – people like Apurv are at the level of world-class engineers and they want to work with us. It’s kind of like a lifehack or something. We’re very lucky that way.”

Shepherd, for their part, got into Third Eye studio in Bengaluru and re-enlisted Rahul Ranganath to nail down all five of their songs in a day, guitarist Namit Chauhan and Raghu’s drums being recorded in a live take. The drummer says, “We basically played the whole EP as we would play in a room, just Namit and I. We did the vocals and bass later.”

The Shepherd side of the split, which opens the album, sees them turn up the tempo, chanelling the likes of Motorhead, Jesus Lizard and Soundgarden. “We’d started writing faster stuff,” says Raghu. Shepherd, for their part, says they try not to dwell on just their sludge side in their songs, even on their debut full-length Stereolithic Riffalocalypse. He adds, “We did have a fast we used to play, during the Stereolithic, called “Undergod Dog” – that was kind of the direction we had in mind. It didn’t have to be cookie-cutter hardcore stuff, so we really mixed up the two as far as the songwriting process is concerned.”

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It’s also a collaboration-friendly EP for Shepherd, having a solo from guitarist Jimmy Palkhivala (from doom/death band Dying Embrace) on the harrowing opener “Agents of Nihil,” and calling upon vocalist Ganesh Krishnaswamy (from stoner/doom band Bevar Sea) and Bhayanak Maut vocalist Sunneith Revankar for terrifying vocals over “Weed Dealer.”

Mumbai hardcore band Death By Fungi. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Death By Fungi, for their part, continue their raw, nerve-damaging metallic hardcore sound, stepped up to a whole new level. Menon says, “We were listening to a lot of Nineties experimental hardcore scene that gave rise to Converge – Deadguy, Botch, Candiria, Coalesce, Dillinger Escape Plan – metallic meets hardcore, experimental music.” With Menon still helming the vocals on this EP, their four tracks are proper tormenting, utilizing as much guitar noise as possible.

As was evident on In Dearth Of last year, Death By Fungi like to call out fallacies and fake scenesters without really taking any names. Their new EP opens with “Edgelord Beatdown,” which takes aim at metalheads who won’t respect safe spaces, something Menon believes metal actually facilitates. “I was talking about how, in Indian cities, you have these middle to upper class, upper caste reactionary fucks. It was just about these guys who through their testosterone and edginess throw this attitude out. It’s about beating those guys down.”

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“Dead Soil” uncovers how “people transfer their mental injuries to others” while “Buzzard Murderer” is a swift soundtrack to anyone who doesn’t want to check their privilege when they romanticize living in Mumbai. Menon says, “For most people, it’s a terrible place.” The only total change of pace comes with their closer “I Was So Mad That (I Wrote a Letter Elucidating My Point of View),” an emo, punk-leaning song in which Menon talks about being treated unfairly in a former band.

The madcap mix of Shepherd and Death By Fungi already took to the stage at metal series Roots on July 23rd in Mumbai, but are set for round two as part of gig series Unscene’s metal edition on August 10th at The Humming Tree in Bengaluru. While Death By Fungi have more material to work on, it might just be Shepherd’s last show in a long time, with guitarist Chauhan set to move to the U.S. to study. Raghu says, “So we don’t have any long-term plans as of now. We just want to get the Split out, make sure I see all that stuff through.”

Shepherd, Death By Fungi and Mutiny in March perform as part of Unscene on August 10th, 2017 at The Humming Tree, Bengaluru. Event details here. Entry: Rs 320 (buy here) and Rs 500 (including Rs 300 cover) at the door.

Listen to Shep//DBF here

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