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Hear Pune Sludge/Doom Band Dirge’s Sonorous Debut ‘Ah Puch’

The full-length album narrates semi-fictitious tales of death and genocide from Mayan history

Anurag Tagat Nov 07, 2018

Pune sludge/doom metal band Dirge. Photo: Benjie Thomas

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When you’re a dealer of slow and low riffs like Pune’s sludge/doom metal band Dirge, taking time with your music is expected. In the works since 2015, their debut album Ah Puch released on October 19th. Vocalist Tabish Khidir says fleshing out an album concept last year finally set things in motion to begin recording.

Ah Puch intertwines stories of Aztec and Mayan mythology with Spanish conquistadors, the title denoting the Mayan god of death. The band’s bassist Harshad Bhagwat, an architect by profession, drafted the idea. Khidir says, “Harshad was fascinated by Mayan architecture back in the day. He also believes that the Mayan gods were a perfect representation of the themes of our music — the doom, sludge sound. There’d be a lot of blood [in the stories] ”“ I think that’d worked in our favor.”

The other person in-charge of delivering that representation of Dirge’s music and its connection with the concept of Ah Puch was Bengaluru-based visual artist and graphic designer Acid Toad aka Gaurav Basu. The sprawling, intricately detailed and dense artwork for Ah Puch was created based on the concept that Basu ”“ frontman of thrash/death metallers Inner Sanctum ”“ received from the band. Khidir says the artwork is about “as integral” as the music. “He was the best guy for this. He was the first or second name to come to mind. We gave him the story and gave him full creative freedom to do whatever. He did a lot of reading and came up with characters and there was a lot of back and forth. It took about three or three and a half months to finish the artwork,” Khidir adds.

‘Ah Puch’ album artwork by Acid Toad aka Gaurav Basu

Recorded with Apurv Agrawal (who’s also helmed production duties for Mumbai hardcore band Death By Fungi), six tracks ”“ clocking in at 52 minutes ”“ were sent to Sanford Parker in Chicago for mixing and then to Brad Boatright (who also mastered Bengaluru sludge band Shepherd’s debut album Stereolithic Riffalocalypse) in Portland. The result is steeped-in-horror, scorching metal that snarls and howls, occasionally picking up the tempo on songs like “Corpse of Cortez.” Khidir says of the closing track, “I think it’s one of the strongest songs we’ve written. There’s a lot of variation.”

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They’ve been putting off gigs for a while ”“ playing in November last year and then in May in Mumbai ”“ so now that the album is out, Dirge are hitting the road with shows in Bengaluru, Pune and Mumbai. Khidir adds, “We’ll have a new song to play. We didn’t want to hamper our writing process just because the album is out. It’s about time we come out with something new.”

Dirge ”“ ”˜Ah Puch’ Launch Shows

November 18th ”“ Unscene at Fandom at Gilly’s Redefined, Bengaluru w/Godless, Speedtrip

November 23rd ”“ Above the Habitat, Mumbai w/Godless, Pacifist, Infestation, Sabotage

November 25th ”“ Metal Brunch at Unwind, Pune w/Undying Inc., Godless, Dark Helm, Ragnhild

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