Demonic Resurrection: The Darkness Ascends
How the Mumbai extreme metallers went from a 16-year-old’s dream to one of India’s most popular bands
“I’m sure you don’t remember me,” says a man in an orange T-shirt as he walks up to a table where four men clad in their favorite metal band t-shirts are seated. He’s talking to Mumbai extreme metal band Demonic Resurrection’s frontman and founding member Sahil Makhija, also known as The Demonstealer.
Makhija looks unsure, but replies, “Very vaguely.” To that, the guy in orange says wryly, “I’m your cousin.” A few laughs later, bassist AshÂwin Shriyan asks Makhija, “You thought he was a fan, right?” The band members have had their share of wacky fan moments. Thirty one-year-old Makhija and the other longest-standing member of the band, keyboardist Mephisto, 30, recall meetÂing fans on local trains numerous times, some even looking for advice. Says MakhÂija, “There was a kid who asked if I could check out his growl and right there, in the train, he was growling and I didn’t even know what to say.” Mephisto, the quiet, more introverted member of the band, says he’s only ever been noticed when he wears the widely-printed and highly in-demand band Tee. Says Mephisto, “Some guy will usually come up to me and say, ”˜Oh hey, you like DR?’ I say, ”˜Yeah, I play for them’ and that’s when they [fans] remember.”
Demonic Resurrection [DR], formed in March 2000 in Makhija’s bedroom, are now one of India’s most popular metal bands. Fourteen years on, the band head out for a Europe tour spread across a month to promote their fourth full-length album, The Demon King, slated to release in India in July. DR has been gaining a fanbase of mostly young, extreme metal-hungry kids ever since they released their 2005 album A Darkness Descends. A whirlwind of symÂphonic, black and death metal went into the album on songs such as “Frozen Portrait” and “Apocalyptic Dawn,” both of which reÂmain set staples to this day. Says Makhija, “It became the introduction to DR’s sound and it was actually a new sound.” Back then, DR had just gone from being a goth metÂal-leaning, female-fronted band [by forÂmer vocalist-keyboardist Nikita Shah] inÂspired by Norwegian bands such as Theatre of Tragedy and Tristania to an extreme metal band, drawing from black metal band Dimmu Borgir and extreme metallers CraÂdle of Filth.
About five years before A Darkness DeÂscends released, Makhija was a 16-year-old with an internet connection and a computer in 1998. He did what any kid just getting into metal would do ”” write and record his own music. Not to forÂget, under a highly embarrassing moniÂker ”” Cyberfly. Says Makhija, “My name is Makhija [Makhi is Hindi for a housefly] and I set up my email account as CyberÂf ly911. Don’t ask.” The guitarist taught himself to use music programming softÂware Seque Beat and used a Windows sound recorder to create his first ever song, “From the Oblivion.”
Two years later, Makhija shifted from studying electronics to commerce at a juÂnior college level, but dropped out of colÂlege when he was studying for a BacheÂlor of Commerce undergraduate degree. Says Makhija, “I had a few arguments with my mom, but I came up with a plan to show them [parents] how I would make money as a producer, studio engineer and musician. I bullshit my way through it.” Although 90 percent of DR’s debut album Demonstealer  was writÂten by Makhija, he roped in school friends Prashant Shah [from hardcore band Scribe], Aditya Mehta [from black metal act Solar Deity] and Yash Pathak [formerly of death metallers Exhumation and Solar Deity] and longtime friend and keyboardist Farhad Arora to take the band live. By 2002, Makhija was working as a sound engineer at Mumbai’s Wadia studio, run by Independence Rock festival’s organizer and muÂsician Farhad Wadia.
Fast forward 12 years and Makhija runs his own setup, Demonic Studios, from his garage-turned-jamroom. Setting up a studio enabled Makhija to help record, mix and master tracks for the scene’s best known metal bands ”“ from brutal death metallers Exhumation to metal band Bhayanak Maut to groove metallers Pin Drop Violence [PDV]. Says MakhÂija, “Earlier, there was no money [in the scene] so I used to work for free. Then it became Rs 400 per song and free coffee. Now, it’s Rs 8,000 per song and no free coffee.”
Makhija wants the band to top itself with The Demon King, which embarks on a new story arc after the Darkness trilogy of releases ”“ from 2003’s A Darkness DeÂscends to the 2007 EP Beyond The DarkÂness and 2010’s The Return To Darkness, which followed a protagonist fighting the evil and darkness that has encompassed earth. On The Demon King, however, there are similar themes of war and heroes, with extreme metal as the dominant sound. The album starts off with the king of a “kingÂdom of heaven” being assassinated and the kingdom falls under military rule with the impending arrival of the Demon King, who brings plague and widespread death with him. Says Makhija, “After the Demon King comes down to the kingdom, the balÂance between good and evil is broken and god, who is a silent spectator to all this in the skies, like we’ve made him out to be, finds the need to fix that and descends on the kingdom to fight the Demon King.” If you’re rooting for god by now, you’re not really a metal fan. The album ends with the Demon King killing god, followed by an instrumental called “The End ParaÂdox.” The band’s favorite picks from the album are “Trail of Devastation,” the title track “The Demon King” and the band’s lead single “Death, Desolation and DeÂspair,” which was released on UK record label Candlelight Records in May.
Listen to an album teaser to The Demon King
The band, especially drummer VirenÂdra Kaith, adds that they’re still trying to nail the parts down for some songs on The Demon King. The band’s former lead guiÂtarist Daniel Rego’s composition “ShatÂtered Equilibrium” has been a challenge, adds Kaith. Rego says the song, inspired by technical black/ death metal bands, is DR’s toughest to perÂform live. The former guitarist adds, “My apÂproach with DR was to always make the songs a little more complex and appreciated from the technical perspective.”
The Demon King has been four years in the making. Makhija atÂtributes the time taken to complete the album to being a band withÂout fulltime musicians. Although 33-year-old Kaith and Makhija are fulltime musicians, keyÂboardist Mephisto left the advertising indusÂtry two years ago and started his own firm to aggregate contest giveaways by brands; bassist Shriyan, 24, is a producer and new guitarist Nishith Hegde, is currentÂly completing his Bachelor’s degree in commerce while playing gigs and workÂing in the distribution section of music equipment store, Furtados. Says Makhija, “Ninety percent of it was finalized by DeÂcember 2012. We were waiting on Viru to give us dates to record, which never hapÂpened and then he quit his job in December and we started recordÂing in March .” According to Makhija, bands usually have a tour cycle, then take a holiday in between and then meet in the stuÂdio to write. Makhija adds that though he would have ideally wantÂed The Demon King to be released last year, four years has become a bit of a standard for Indian metal bands. Says Makhija, “If you look at any band, it’s exactly the cycle of time it’s going to take, be it BhayÂanak Maut, Scribe, Undying Inc or Kryptos. We can’t say, ”˜fuck everyÂthing else and we’ll play just in DR.’ When it comes to that point, then yeah, we’ll work faster.”