Elemental Recall Bhopal Gas Tragedy on Debut Album
The Bhopal death metal band’s first release ‘Creation of the Damned’ details the 1984 gas tragedy
Most Indian parents wouldÂ have at least once tried toÂ tell their metalhead kidsÂ to ditch the black T-shirtsÂ and stop singing about death metal. ButÂ Elemental vocalist Anchal Bhargava’sÂ parents told him to sing about the brutalÂ reality the death metal band lives in, suchÂ as the 1984 gas leak in their hometown ofÂ Bhopal that killed several thousands andÂ continues to cause deformed births in theÂ central Indian city. Says Bhargava aboutÂ the concept behind their debut full-lengthÂ album Creation of the Damned, due out laterÂ this year, “My parents helped with the concept.Â They said, ”˜There’s a massacre that happenedÂ in our own city. Don’t write about yourÂ ”˜soul leaving your body’ and shit like that.”
The nine-track album details the chronologyÂ of events that took place in DecemberÂ 1984 set to Elemental’s brand of unsparing,Â brutal death metal that steadily buildsÂ tempo. The opening track “Smell of Fear,”Â for example, talks about the poisonous fogÂ that began permeating after the gas leak.Â “Rampant Felony” talks about the MadhyaÂ Pradesh government’s attempt to cover upÂ the incident. Bhargava says. “The one thingÂ we’re missing [in Indian metal] is not puttingÂ so much emphasis on social concepts.Â We’re still following that American style.Â Apart from [Mumbai thrash/groove metalÂ band] Zygnema, not very many bands singÂ about Indian issues. That’s when you’ll get aÂ wider audience as well.”
The band, who came together in 2012Â and currently comprises Bhargava, guitaristÂ Aman Sharma and drummer DivyarajÂ Bhatnagar, are re-recording portions of theÂ album with Zygnema guitarist Sidharth Kadadi.Â Their first single, “Inhumane Purge,”Â was recorded by Pune producer AdhirajÂ Singh. Says Bhargava, “We weren’t happyÂ with some of the parts and our masteringÂ engineer Kristian Kohle [who has previouslyÂ worked with death metal bands such asÂ Aborted and Benighted] asked us to reworkÂ bass, guitars and vocals.” Bhargava is also rerecordingÂ his vocals at Mumbai’s DemonicÂ Studios. He adds, “We started recording thisÂ as an EP, but since we jam every day, we gotÂ more and more tracks added.”
“My parents said ‘There’s a massacre that happened in your city.'”
The resultant sound is what BhargavaÂ calls “Bhopali death metal,” not necessarilyÂ for any regional influences apart from theÂ geography. Says the vocalist, “We’re tryingÂ to give it a name in central India.” In the lastÂ two years, Elemental has taken the have-music-will-travel way to playingÂ across the country, usually settlingÂ for just travel, accommodationÂ and food to perform. And they’veÂ never missed a gig. Bhargava recallsÂ when they missed a train toÂ compete at a band competition inÂ Mysore in 2013. He says, “We wentÂ in the general unreserved compartmentÂ of a train and for two fucking days,Â we sat next to the toilet.” Elemental went onÂ to win that band competition.
Says Bhargava, “We’re all really fulltimeÂ musicians but we take up other jobs just toÂ save money.” The vocalist works with his fatherÂ in construction as a contractor,Â while guitarist Aman SharmaÂ runs a tattoo studio and drummerÂ Divyaraj Bhatnagar teachesÂ music. What are they saving upÂ for? A full-scale Europe tour earlyÂ next year, if all goes according toÂ plan. In the meantime, the bandÂ is already working on an EP dueÂ out this year. Turns out the parents are partÂ of the brainstorming process for the next releaseÂ as well. Bhargava says, “My mom toldÂ me, ”˜Why don’t you sing in Sanskrit?’ ThisÂ one will be different. I’m taking classes inÂ Sanskrit.”