Djentleman’s Club: Delhi Prog Metal Act Define Destiny Releases New Single
In the last year, some of the Delhi metal scene’s most memorable releases have come from modern progressive
metal bands who have chosen polyrhythms and synths over straight-up riffs
Armed with seven-string guitars, digital audio workstations (DAWs) and a guitar processor/pre-amp like Axe FX II, the world has enough bedroom guitarists who are inspired by the likes of Misha Mansoor. Mansoor launched his solo project Bulb and then launched American prog metal band Periphery. Tosin Abasi from Washington D.C.’s Animals As Leaders is another artist who has influenced prog metallers since he founded the band in 2007. Closer home, bands from Delhi such as Colossal Figures, Murk Blare and solo act Define Destiny have taken to prog metal and gained an impressive following. Says Delhi band Colossal Figures drummer Rijul Victor explaining the appeal of prog metal, “The whole era of modern metal is the opposite of that rawness that thrash metal had to offer. It [djent] is created flawless and everything is loud.”
Delhi-based guitarist-producer Keshav Dhar, who gained fame for his solo project Hydrodjent in 2009 and later launched Skyharbor, and tech/groove metal band Undying Inc., who raised the bar for technical metal in India, have both been extremely influential in turning prog metal into a sound that has been embraced by both artists and audiences alike in Delhi.
Djent ”“ named after the sound of a palm-muted guitar note ”“ and modern prog metal has steadily gained fans for its emphasis on complex technique, squeaky-clean production and a nod toward electronic samples and synth. Adds Victor, who has also produced Delhi progressive heavy metal band Trigger and played drums for prog metal band Guillotine, “It’s not just guitars and drums.” Adds Amol Vikram Singh, who plays bass for prog metal band Pyramids, whose debut EP Sub Rosa released in October last year, “We weren’t looking to stick to any genre.” Sub Rosa contains a song called “Fools Errand,” which goes into an electrohip hop bridge between hard-hitting riffs.
It wasn’t just Indian artists who were making artists and audiences sit up and take notice of the new prog metal wave. In 2010, Swedish prog metal giants Meshuggah toured in India at the Great Indian Rock Concert held across Pune, Delhi and Bengaluru, with close to 2,000 prog fans witnessed the band’s debut. Other international prog metal heavyhitters including UK bands such as Monuments and TesseracT, Swedish djent band Vildhjarta and Animals As Leaders all soon made their way to India.
Although many are happy to write off djent as a trend, there’s more to the genre than a formulaic approach. We spoke to six upcoming bands from Delhi and asked them what made them pick prog metal or djent as their subgenre of choice.
Who: Guitarist-producer Karan Singh Braria started off playing for Delhi metal band Jehovah in 2013 and was previously part of experimental metal band Hope In Dark Evolution [H.I.D.E] in 2011. Says Singh, “I made two songs with them but they asked me to cut down on the guitars because the vocalist couldn’t keep up.” But for the last three years, Singh says he’s been writing his own solo material, which he recorded and released under the moniker Define Destiny last year with singles such as “Kaizen,” “Shandora” and “Insight.” Says the guitarist, “I didn’t want to compromise any more.” The songs are part of his upcoming 10-track concept album, which is a story about a different planet. Although his current releases have been instrumental, Singh says he’s recruiting a vocalist to add more melody to the tracks.
Why Djent? Singh, who got into bands such as Meshuggah, Periphery and SikTh after he’d heard the likes of Metallica, Lamb of God and Iron Maiden, says modern prog metal is “pretty flexible.” Adds the guitarist, “You can do anything you want. I got bored of Pantera and straight-up heavy music. Djent had everything, from jazz to post-rock. As a musician, it’s challenging.”
Spin this: “Ascension,” Define Destiny’s brand new single that has all the makings of a djent classic, and piles on mega Meshuggah-like technical metal grooves and a lot of manic riffage.
Listen to “Ascension” here