Hear Pune Metallers Dead Exaltation’s Deranged Debut Album ‘Despondent’
Vocalist Satyajit Gargori talks to us about concept of the record and how it stands as a testimony to late guitarist-bassist Mradul Singhal’s songwriting
In 2015, when Pune band Dead Exaltation released their first song “Fallacy” — a cutthroat brutal death metal track that firmly cemented them as a rising act in the metal circuit — vocalist Satyajit Gargori was drawing heavily from prison and war movie binges. It formed the conceptual foundation that led to their debut album Despondent, out earlier this month after much tumult in the band.
The sometimes eerie and mostly brutal nine-track album also features “In Pursuit Of,” an incisive yet roving and fist-pumping death metal track. Gargori recounts that thematically, the song detailed a prisoner who breaks out and investigators trace things back to gruesome scenes of murder. He adds, “We were in college at the time of writing the concept and wanted it to be as brutal as possible, so we had this idea of a psycho warden and prisoners who are innocent and are hoping to escape. But that hope is not there.”
Psychologically horrifying as well as dialled up on the gore, Despondent puts unrelenting prog-informed death metal over the story of a warden and his prisoners, amongst whom one escapes and alerts authorities, who show up only to find themselves dangerously trapped as well. A cinematic part of the album arrives with the fourth track “The Conversation,” featuring a background score by singer-guitarist and producer Laksh Thamman and Gargori co-writing it with Gaurang Bailoor. The chilling narration is by Uday Iyer, the rock veteran who’s been part of bands such as Vayu and Agni. Gargori adds, “Uday has seen us since our first gig at a college in Pune and has always been supporting us.”
Iyer was also bandmates with guitarist-bassist Mradul Singhal in metal act Schwa and although Singhal passed away last year in a tragic road accident, Gargori says he and drummer Aditya Oke found support and resolve to complete recording and release Despondent. The vocalist adds, “The album was ready by 2017 in terms of composition, but I moved to Chennai in 2017 and came back within six months, only to have a hearing problem.” Following treatment, the trio picked back up on shows and recorded Despondent at Singhal’s home studio and with Sukhna-based producer Aakash Sherpa (from metallers If Hope Dies), who also mixed and mastered the record. With the release, Gargori says it was intentional that they decided to put this out only via Bandcamp and with an initial run of 50 CDs, eschewing the streaming route. “Bands can definitely get good exposure via streaming, but we wanted to focus on this old school aspect of having a CD in your hands or looking through lyrics. It adds value to your music. When we started listening to metal, it was via discs, we had that music in our hands,” Gargori says.
With orders and purchases going steady for the band, it does leave a bigger question of what Gargori and Oke will do next as Dead Exaltation. Singhal’s riffs and compositional ideas are still very much around for future material, but Gargori says a lot of it was divided into his solo projects. “He’d sent us a lot of songs and some of the old songs are very technical. We might pick up on that.” Additionally, they are planning to use his guitar track for live shows, starting with tribute shows for Singhal coming up. “We’re just waiting for the right time,” Gargori says.
Listen/buy ‘Despondent’ below.