Demonic Resurrection’s Epic Innings
The Mumbai extreme metallers’ fifth album ‘Dashavatar’ weaves a narrative based on Indian myths, features Indian classical elements like never before
Demonic Resurrection frontman Sahil Makhija aka The Demonstealer has lately been vocal on social media about how he might put an end to long-standing metal band. He says it’s something he can’t stop thinking about, owing to the continual struggle. “I’ve been doing this for 16 years. When I say give up on something, I don’t mean I’ll stop making music. But when you struggle at the same things over and over, it’s very jarring and you question what you do. If 16 years ago, you struggled to get a gig, that’s one thing. But if even now, 16 years and five albums later you struggle to get a gig, then is it worth doing? At least the gigging part of it.”
But then, seeing the response to the sitar-and-tabla-infused debut single “Matsya ”“ The Fish” off their new album Dashavatar, Makhija is in better spirits. “When an album is coming out and it’s doing well, you ride that high and write the next album,” he says. Set to release on March 15th, the 10-track record covers the multitudinous forms that mythic god Vishnu takes.
Since their previous album The Demon King featured a close-enough narrative that took from Indian myths, for Makhija, this new release seemed like a natural progression. From the female vocals by Mumbai-based Pratika Prabhune on “Kurma ”“ The Tortoise” and a divine chant by Kaushik Ramachandran (from prog/fusion band Paradigm Shift) on “Buddha ”“ The Teacher” (“His voice was perfect for that,” Makhija says), there are enough changes to make the regular DR fan do a double take. The album also features Bengaluru-based flautist Sidharth Bharadwaj on the befitting “Krishna ”“ The Cowherd” and metal sitar whizkid Rishabh Seen and tabla player Devang Shinde on “Matsya ”“ The Fish.”
It’s the first album featuring guitarist Nishith Hegde’s contributions, so it’s no surprise the axeman has a solo to rip through on each track. Hegde says, “Sahil used to send the riffs and songs and I really liked the change in vibe. I personally felt there wasn’t much of a change in sound in the last two albums.” He mentions, though, how a riff idea he had from about four years ago””even before he joined the band found its way into becoming the intro for “Krishna.” Hegde explains, “I played that riff for Sahil and he said, ”˜Okay, this is the riff for this song’. It’s the only major riff I’ve written, apart from the solos.” The lead guitarist’s favorite, though, remains “Vamana ”“ The Dwarf.” He says, “That’s more of my style”” very melodic.”
Also a first with Dashavatar is the absence of long-time keyboardist Mephisto, who left the band last September, citing creative differences. Although he still contributed song ideas and lyrics, his exit means DR are performing with one live element less, relying on backing tracks for orchestral elements, vocals and the other Indian instruments featured on the album.
But it’s a cakewalk for the band, as they proved while lording over the metal stage at crowdfunded gig series Control Alt Delete in Mumbai in February. Makhija says for their upcoming shows, including one in Mumbai on March 26th, “I think right now, the three other DR members are such proficient musicians, doing music as a full-time songs and learning 30, 40 songs in one week and delivering, it’s just a matter of getting into the jam room. They’re all pros. It’s only me who has to sit and practice.”
This article appears in the March 2017 issue of ROLLING STONE India.
Buy ‘Dashavatar’ here.
Demonic Resurrection performs at Grand Mammoth Festival on March 26th, 2017 at Antisocial, Mumbai. Event details here.