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Diary of a Madman #3: Power Metal Fan in a “Progressive Metal Country”

Mad scientist Dr. Hex laments the country’s lack of appreciation for power metal

Riju Dasgupta Jun 06, 2016
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Wolf2.jpg

Wolf performed in India in 2013 as part of motorcycle and music festival Harley Rock Riders. Photo by Prashin Jagger.

Over the years, thanks to music, I’ve made some invaluable friends, from all walks of life. Sadly, I can discuss music, the power that brought us together, with only a handful of these friends. Don’t get me wrong. They are all very passionate about the music they listen to. They weep tears of joy (and also from other orifices), when progressive rock/metal legends visit India. And when I raise my goblet of happiness in jubilation, after news of Skull Fist, or Wolf, or Iced Earth coming here breaks out; they are happy for me. But never with me. Oh, never with me.

One of the reasons I shall be eternally thankful to Rolling Stone, is for getting Swedish heavy metal band Wolf to India in 2012. Not only was it a spectacular show, vocalist Niklas Stalvind joined Albatross on stage, to deliver an earth-shattering performance. Sahil had come down to shoot an episode of Headbanger’s Kitchen right before the performance, and Niklas said the same thing on the show that I’ve felt throughout my 12 year journey in music. Alienated. From what people listen to. From the music that they discuss among themselves. From what they believe in.

I know your argument. You’ll tell me that Albatross has fared quite well, for a country that does not give two hoots about this style of music. Well, Albatross may be grouped as ”˜power metal’ for lack of a better term, but our style of music is far removed from what power metal implies. And even for Albatross, there’s been a major lack of understanding of what we’re about, over the years. I remember, not too long back, we were asked to be part of a 2-CD Compilation, where the first CD consisted of metal bands, and the second of alternative rock bands. Much to my surprise, dismay and chagrin, I discovered that “In the Court of Kuru” had made it to the alternative rock CD. When I enquired about this, the answer, as expected was- “Clean vocals hai na.” How does one respond to that? Full ”˜you only do na’ moment.

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But coming back to the central argument at hand, why does a majority of the Indian audience not get power metal? Why do they gasp like you’ve been diagnosed with AIDS, when you reveal that Manowar has played a significant role in bolstering your morale, every time you’ve been down? Why do they refer to well-crafted guitar solos that are rooted in advanced western classical music as ”˜wankery’?  Why do they ho-hum some of the most interesting and intelligent storytelling in a lyrical context if they feature heroes and swords (Game of Thrones is okay, haa), and cry tears of elation for vague and downright silly progressive music concepts? Why do they rubbish classically trained operatic vocalists in favor of the more sombre and less flamboyant kind? Why do the albums that change my life, bring them snickers and chuckles?

Don’t answer. You probably think that I’ve asked these questions, because I want you to answer them. But that’s not the case at all. I will answer, because I’m getting paid and you are not.

Why do some music fans connect with power metal, while others do not? I’ll have to go back in time to when I was a teenager, and first saw a video by a band called Smashing Pumpkins . I tried my darndest to like it, because you know, pre-pubertal open minded teenager, but I couldn’t. I remembered the story of the frog that was drowning in a bowl of milk, and desperately tried to escape thereby flailing its limbs and turning the milk into curd. I tried, tried, tried till I succeeded, only I didn’t succeed. I suppose the song was called “The End is the Beginning is the End”, which was ironic because it was the beginning of my limited exposure to the Smashing Pumpkins, but also the end, which was also the beginning, and also the end, if you get the drift. But yes, different strokes for different folks, only my folks are a bit more folky (Blind Guardian).  And sure, they’re not progressive metal, but they’re forged by the same fire.

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In essence, I suppose the Smashing Pumpkins fan is very different from me (the pumpkin-worshipping Helloween fan). And the most beautiful bit about the current metal scene is that with bands like Eclipse, Knight, Falcun, Against Evil and Gaia’s Throne;  there’s a new crop of young dudes who’re not too dissimilar from me. And that, my friends, is a happy ending. Not like the ones in Thailand, but the ones in power metal.

Remember, power metal fans. Ragnarok is nigh. We have the swords. We have the courage. We have the might. We will take those progressive metal fans head on. Unless they have guns. Can’t deal with them guns. Unless we play them some depressing prog rock, and they shoot themselves. Yes, General”¦there is a way!

 

Riju Dasgupta does not exist. The writer of this piece is an illusion created by mad scientist Dr. Hex, who makes it seem like he plays bass for Albatross and Primitiv. But because bass is inaudible, one truly knows that he doesn’t exist.

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