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Demonic Resurrection feature on international documentary; leader releases solo

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Sanmitra Gupta Aug 09, 2008
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Courtesy of Demonic Resurrection

The view from the Makhijas’ Juhu apartment is worth an auction; the beach below, almost, looks well maintained and surely, this is the perfect spot for a cuppa, KT Tunstall and the sunset. Instead, this is the seat of all things ”˜demonic’ as Sahil Makhija, better known as The Demonstealer of Mumbai band Demonic Resurrection, uses his bedroom as workspace. Demonic Resurrection, purveyors of demonic metal – a style that borrows influences from power/black/symphonic metal – have had three releases churned from here. The band is currently sharing space on the soundtrack to Global Metal ”“ anthropologist and filmmaker Sam Dunn’s 2008 documentary studying the impact of heavy metal on cultures across the world ”“ with the likes of Lamb of God and In Flames.

“It’s huge, dude,” says Makhija, as a smile breaks out across his face. “Sam Dunn’s production house had probably researched Indian metal bands online and come across us. So when they got in touch, I organised a gig with other metal bands, for them. We were all going to be part of the documentary. This is unexpected and great,” he says. On this follow-up to 2005’s Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, a docu which traced the evolution of metal, Dunn had travelled to India, amongst other destinations, and Makhija was the link between him and the Indian metal scene.

According to contemporary Teemeer Chimulkar, of Mumbai thrash band Sceptre, “It had to be Sahil really. He’s been around and has stuck to his music with unfailing perseverance to create a certain branding for himself and the band. It is no surprise that he’s come so far.” It could have been a joke when it started but despite the various takes on the name, Sahil is still popularly known as The Demonstealer. “I wanted the name because all my favourite black metal heroes have had stage names. I don’t mind if people have to make fun of it,” he admits. The band has been around since 2000 and he informs that it had been conceptualised even earlier. “From the moment I picked up the guitar I knew I wanted to have a band called Demonic Resurrection,” he says and as proof of further determination, there was, within the first nine months, six line-up changes and a release titled Demonstealer. “I sat down with my mom, made copies of the CD and for the album art I had a picture of me with talcum powder on my face. I distorted the same and there you were”¦ our first release!” he recalls.

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Then, of course, there are the other hats he dons ”“ that of organiser and engineer/producer. The former was born out of a need to play live ”“ a problem that existed for metal bands across the city. He is the brains behind Resurrection, the only annual metal fest that currently exists in the country. “It’s difficult without sponsor-backing and people not paying up despite promises but the fact that it can attract a crowd of 500 means that there is an audience,” he mentions. There are people, he’ll tell you, who are more interested in buying CDs of Indian bands than buying international releases; which is why his label, Demonstealer Records, is that pivotal platform for metal and extreme metal releases. Laughing off accusations of narcissism, “I named it such because my friend thought Demonstealer sounded better as a record label,” he says. However, he does admit that all these boats that he balances simultaneously are afloat solely because Demonic Resurrection is an entity that he doesn’t want to suffer for lack of support.

That said, there are other sides to Makhija and they are achieving fruition in the form of a solo album ”“ And Chaos Will Reign was released last month, for free downloads ”“ and his latest project, The Workshop, which has Hamza Kazi on drums and Riju Dasgupta on bass. “DR is five people and we have a certain template for our sound. Having said that, all that I write might not be DR material,” he says. The Workshop is aimed at being a fun band ”“ that’s it. “It’s funny, tongue-in-cheek, irreverent, pornographic ”“ it is a look at the lighter side of things,” he informs. However, there’s never any surety that his humour will be appreciated. “That’s the problem, man. If my lyrics are nonsense and so is my stage-act, why will you not take my efforts seriously?” he asks. His current attempts at merging humour and music involve a tongue-in-cheek song that ridicules a lonely Gujarati boy and a Marathi song which he touts as a backlash to the oppressive rule of the Shiv Sena. Risky, considering matters of national and local pride are taken quite seriously. “We take ourselves too seriously. Period.  Let’s learn to loosen up a little. If we get into trouble for this, we’ll deal with it,” he quips.

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You mention a photoshoot and he is immediately caught unawares, in his T-shirt and spectacles. “Image is important, man,” he says. “And so is promotion,” he adds, as if to defend the fact that half the music community has daily updates from The Demonstealer flooding their inbox. But whether we like being spoon-fed or not, there is definitely a correlation between that listing on the Global Metal soundtrack and the number of hits that was spawned by mail-generated curiosity. “I dunno if the spot on this compilation means we will break out but with the album and the promotions I can at least ensure that if at all a label comes looking they will see a quality and established product supported by the necessary groundwork. Then, I could be worth their money,” he says. Indeed, but, this is also taking Indian metal to the global map like it’s never been done before. “Perhaps,” he says and adds excitedly that June Rockout, a major festival in Chennai in its sixth year, has invited them to play for the first time. Clearly, the Demonstealer has his sights set on goals closer than the average aspirant would think.

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