#ReviewRundown: October 2019
Our verdict on some of the freshest indie releases from across the country, featuring Sitar Metal, Disco Puppet, Carnage Inc. and more
Carnage Inc. – Tenebris
There’s been a slew of thrash metal releases coming out of India in recent times – from seasoned bands like Sceptre to newer acts such as Sabotage. Adding to the din are Mumbai’s thrash metal band Carnage Inc., armed with incisive riffs and piercing harmonies. On their follow-up to 2016’s Fury Incarnate EP, there’s punishing tunes like “Eradicate the Empire” and “DeathScape.” A song like “Saffron Is The New Black” is more memorable for its lyrics rather than offering anything too fresh, while “High On Panic” and “Monstrosity” lead with a classic heavy metal intent. Carnage Inc. deftly amps up on chaos (“Murder Maze”) and turn to melancholic metal (“Tread the Fire”). At 31 minutes, Tenebris is thankfully not too overbearing and well-polished.
Sitar Metal – Sitar Metal
When you claim to be as misunderstood and misrepresented as sitarist and fusion artist Rishabh Seen, your music better be backing up the talk. After projects such as cover videos and Mute the Saint, Seen simply went with Sitar Metal for his latest project, keeping it as straightforward as possible. On his debut full-length album, there’s 40 minutes of crushing breakdowns, string-bending action (sitar and guitar, courtesy of Deeparshi Roy) and one surprising detour into rap (Bhaskar Roy on “Dreamers We Never Learn”). It’s full of headrush moments, but sometimes overindulgent and stretched beyond necessary, perhaps for the sake of intensity, artistry or something else.
Claver Menezes – Diverse Delusions
A part of the scene since 1991, Mumbai-based guitar ace Claver Menezes’ work has ranged from setting up record labels to teaming up with the likes of Tirthankar Poddar aka 2Blu in rock band Zedde. On his first official solo release Diverse Delusions, there’s 19 tracks that delve into Menezes’ rockstar dreams. It’s nostalgic but in a wild and free kind of way, with guests like Sherrin Varghese on “Spotlight,” a ballad from Nikhil Raj Uzgare (“Faces”), pumping hard rock (“Get Home” with Sherrin and Rozzlin Pereira) and spooky metal (“Karma”). It’s hit or miss at times, but definitely picks up towards the second half with songs like “Let Us Love” and “You,” plus heavy turns on “Hyde Within” (featuring Mumbai metal veteran Teemeer Chimulkar) and rock veteran Gary Lawyer’s poignant ballad (“Another Deep Blue Dusk”).
Mannfarid – Mehviyat
Originally starting out as an English alt-rock band in Pune in 2011, a lot has changed for Mannfarid on their debut seven-track album Mehviyat. Comprising guitarist Onkar Tarkase, vocalist-guitarist Kirit Mandavgane and bassist Amit Gadgil, Mannfarid still retain a sonic hue of warbly alt-rock, like the diminished lead that permeates “Banjaara,” while modern prog riffs dominate “Fateh Ho.” Songs like “Gumraah” and “Lailaaj,” however, have plenty of ‘guess-what-that-reminds-you-of’ moments. Mandavgane throws in a few English lyrics on “Hoslo Ke Paro Mein” but Mannfarid clearly does heavier, faster tempos better like on “Mitaado,” which remains a must-hear.
Reckoner – Instructions Unclear
★ ★ ★½
It’s almost unnerving how much Brooklyn-based Indian guitarist-producer Sumanth Srinivasan aka Reckoner sounds like Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on the opening track “Red Spiders Cometh,” off Instructions Unclear. His second album features eight tracks born out of beats, vocals, pianos and even computer code. Experimenting at New York City’s ongoing Algoraves series that features artists generating music and visuals in real time using code, the result is hypnotic. There’s an undeniable Radiohead influence (“Supply Chain,” “Empire of Signs,” “Allytalk (for the Rationally Insane)”) and Boards of Canada (“Winter Fingers,” “An Evening Ritual”) but comforting melancholy nonetheless.
Disco Puppet – Aranyer Dinratri
Aranyer Dinratri is the follow-up to Bengaluru producer, drummer and vocalist Soumik Biswas’ 2017 album Princess This, taking its name from the Satyajit Ray film of the same name. That was made in 1970 and we can hear samples starting from “Somnifer” but then on the seven-minute “Overflow” we hear that distinct, almost infernal synth layer that we’ve come to associate Disco Puppet with. In his jaded delivery (reminiscent of Damon Albarn from Gorillaz, Blur), Biswas dives into states of focus, discovery and acceptance. With his trusty Casio SA47, Biswas sings in Bengali (“Aadha Pauwa”), glitches out (“Fever Dream”), returns to clarity (“Eh Baba!”) and revels in unpredictability (“1041,” “Guess I’ll Die”) to make Aranyer Dinratri a shapeshifting listen.