Gutslit Slam Through Debut
The Mumbai death grind band plan to reach out to an international audience
In spite of releasing a brutal debut album and recruiting a new guitarist, Mumbai death grind band Gutslit’s bassist Gurdip Singh Narang believes that the band is going “back to square one.” This isn’t just because of lineup changes ”“ for almost a year, the band included just three members with programmed drums playing off an iPod at their stage shows and in 2008, Abhishek Nandi joined as the drummer only to leave in 2011 to be replaced by Aaron Pinto ”“ but more to do with the genre Gutslit were committed to playing.Â While grind started out as a sub-genre of death metal, it has come into its own in India only recently.
Grind maybe best associated with death metal, but is still a niche considering the relentless riffs, three-minute blast beats and guttural vocals that are characteristic of the genre. Formed in 2007, Narang and the band’s former guitarist Dynell Bangera have been instrumental in pushingÂ the genre in the country. Gutslit’s nine-track debut album Skewered in the Sewer includes material that’s not just faster death metal, but combines elements of slam and speed. Says Narang, “It’s more about what we love. Grind bands these days play anything from 30-second songs to one-man performances like Putrid Pile or use samples like Sikfuk.” Whether they are voice samples detailing murder or ominous sounds of entrapment, Gutslit also use samples on the intro track “Prelude to Putrification,” the smoldering blast beat-pounding “Pulp Face” and nearly-groove/death metal number “Maze of Entrails.”
Tracks like “Pustulated Phallic Enthralment,” “Circumcised with a Chainsaw” [featuring grind vocalist Mallika Sundaramurthy, a friend of the band, from American technical death metal band Abnormality] and “Haemorrhoidal Brain Custard” were written three years ago, with a different lineup, except for founding members Narang and Bangera. Now, with the old and new thrown in together, Gutslit have signed on to Coyote Music in Russia and Ghastly Music in Japan, extreme metal labels that will promote Gutslit’s music internationally, while the band will continue to handle local promotions.
What binds both death metal and grind is the fact that while vocals might be straight from the gut, cracking the lyrics is a close-to-impossible task even for diehard fans. Vocalist Aditya Barve, who joined the band after Nikhil Allug left in 2011, says he doesn’t even sing the words right most of the time, whether on stage or on the album. “This is a genre in which the vocals are used more as an instrument, to enhance the intensity,” says Barve. Narang and Bangera honed Barve’s taste in extreme metal to allow him to draw out the pig squeals on Skewered in the Sewer, and also struck gold with their new drummer, Pinto, who took to the genre almost immediately. Says Pinto, “I just love playing blast. Most metal is now about grooves, but I love blasting.” The band now finds a similar fit in guitarist Prateek Rajagopal, who also plays with Mumbai death metal band Reptilian Death and experimental metallers Chronic Phobia, after months of searching that followed Bangera’s exit in April. Pinto says, “Very few guitarists can do this [kind of music].”
Gutslit recorded Skewered in the Sewer in 2012 at Demonic Resurrection frontman Sahil Makhija’s Demonic Studios and enlisted drummer Hamza Kazi [from prog rock band Coshish and comedy rock band Workshop] for programming drums. Narang says Kazi “humanized” the drums, which weren’t recorded live, but programmed using videos of the band performing for reference. Says Narang, “This genre doesn’t pay, so we couldn’t move enough funds to record drums live.” Right from the skull-crushing opener “Pustulated Phallic Enthralment,” you’d think the drums were recorded live. Narang tells us that American producer Jeff Fischer, who mastered the album “was also fooled by the drums.” What remain completely non-processed are Barve’s vocals, from every pig squeal to the most guttural growl. Says Barve, “They are just techniques. I used to practise on the bus, in the train, on the streets and my friends used to tease me.”
Gutslit performs with Reptilian Death and Anthracite at Bombay Asylum II at Zouk, Hotel Imperial Palace, Mumbai on August 8th, 2013. Entry Rs 500 (inclusive of Rs 300 cover charge); Student entry Rs 250. Event details here.