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Diary of a Madman #1: ‘What is Metal?’

“To be metal, is to be free. Metal is the yada in yada yada yada, and it signifies freedom,” says mad scientist Dr. Hex in our latest metal special column

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Riju Dasgupta Apr 25, 2016
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Riju Dasgupta

“To be metal is to be free.” Photo courtesy of Sagnik Kamarkar/Deadshotzine

One month from now, soon after you read this article, I will be thirty years of age. The good news is that I’ll have crossed the accursed twenty-seven year mark that claims most rock stars. The bad news is”¦well, that this probably means that that I am not a rock star. I am just primitive (cheap plug), and while I have no albatross around my neck (cheaper plug), I have things to get off my chest. So listen up!

For those of you who don’t know who I am (who skipped Anurag Tagat’s excellent reviews of Fear From the Skies and Immortal & Vile, to read about the new Kanye West), I have been a part of the Indian hard rock/heavy metal circuit for the last 12 years. Through this time period, I’ve been asked several times what metal stands for. I’ve stumbled, fumbled and grovelled at the answer, because to me metal stands for cannibals inviting you to the dining table and other ancillary subjects of the same nature. To put my mind at ease(and be prepared for forthcoming interviews), I skimmed through other articles where artists were asked the same question. The answer, quite often, across these interviews, has been unanimous. To be metal, is to be free.

Free from the chains that bind you. Free from society’s shackles. Free from other forms of BDSM that 50 shades of modern society imposes upon you.  Metal is like shifting to boxers after a lifetime of wearing briefs. Metal is the ”˜independence’ in Independence Rock (there is no ”˜we’ in ”˜I’ Rock) and the ”˜freedom’ in Freedom Jam. Metal is the yada in yada yada yada, and it signifies freedom. Do you disagree? Do you have a contrary point of view? Then you’re free to say it. That’s how free metal is! Although you’re wrong if you do disagree. Because to be metal IS to be free.

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After all, for the past 12 years, all I’ve been hearing from metal fans across India is that they want my album for free, bro. Or they want free entries (yes, plural) at gigs, bro. Or that they will offer my band a platform where we can connect with audiences for free (Are you alarmed at the lack of ”˜bro’ in the last point I made? That was deliberate. You do not get three in a Brow).  I guess when they said heavy metal is about being free, they meant that it is music for free loaders. Free from society’s impositions as well as monetary obligations.

Of course, I don’t mean that everyone in the Indian music circuit is a free loader. You certainly are not, having purchased this copy of Rolling Stone (Or are you reading the article online? Do you have no shame?). But, think back to the day when Rhythm House was shutting down, and everyone in your news feed and mine was posting the most tender tributes. How they frequented the place in their younger days, and how the store prepared them for what’s in store.  In life. Rhythm ”˜House’ is where their heart is. If crocodile tears were used as the currency of India, Rhythm House would, even today, be awash in profits. But alas, tears are only the currency of tribute nights of deceased music legends. Dirges were sung (not by Tabish Khidir), and Rhythm House made way for another establishment (I’ve not been there since. I hope it’s called Lead House, geddit? Hyuk hyuk).

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It is a shame that I’ll probably earn more through this column than I will through music, this year. This is, provided, that Nirmika and the rest of the team allow me to ramble in this manner, and continue to pay me handsomely for it. You know what that makes them? Non free-loaders. And do you know what that also makes them, by association? Not metal. In the words of Manowar- ”˜Leave the Hall!’

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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