The Down Troddence Conquer RSMA 2014
The Bengaluru-based folk metal band bagged eight awards and delivered a crushing performance at the fifth edition of Zippo Presents Rolling Stone Metal Awards
Prog rock/metal band Motherjane and Singapore-based Vedic black/death metal band Rudra were two big names that impressed folk metal fans in India. There aren’t too many local acts who have taken to the genre. But The Down Troddence [TDT] from Bengaluru, formed in 2009, have worked hard to build a following, which eventually won them eight out of 13 awards at Zippo Presents Rolling Stone Metal Awards [RSMA] this year. Says vocalist Mithun Raj aka Munz, “I didn’t imagine this in my wildest dreams. I can even put this on my rÃ©sumÃ©.”Â TDT’s blend of Kerala folk elements with thrash and groove metal is distinctive. The band uses influences of theyyam, a traditional percussion style, popular in their hometown Kannur in Kerala. Throw in lyrics about revolution and political apathy and you’ve got the band’s debut full-length album How Are You? We Are Fine, Thank You, which earned them the Popular Choice and Critics’ Choice awards for Best Band, Best Album and Best Song [“Nagavalli”].
As is the case every year at RSMA, performances were a big draw for the audience. Reverrse Polarity kicked off the night, wasting no time in getting the moshpits going with songs such as “Cross Poly Nation” and “RAR,” songs that have been turned around since the time the band formed in 2008. With the addition of Gautam Deb [from experimental metal band Noiseware] in 2012, the band borrowed elements from modern progressive metal and took it a step ahead when they began recording with producer Keshav Dhar [from prog metal band Skyharbor] for their debut-self-titled album. Deb, who has been previously nominated twice at RSMA for his work with Noiseware, was happy to break the jinx. American metal band Lamb of God’s drummer Chris Adler, who was part of the jury, voted for Deb to be the Best Drummer, saying, “I like the variation of the drums. It [“Cross Poly Nation”] is not the ”˜heaviest’ but the most current and relevant [song].” Guitarist Alex Skolnick, from thrash metal veterans Testament, also gave “Cross Poly Nation” top points, adding, “If I was back in high school, socially frustrated, this might be the perfect anthem.”
TDT, who played their debut gig in Mumbai, drew a sizeable crowd to the awards show. The band’s guitarist Varun Raj bagged the Best Guitarist award, with top marks from jury member Mattias Eklundh, from Swedish prog metal band Freak Kitchen. Eklundh sums up Raj’s guitar parts on “Shiva” as “Iron Maiden goes death, [with] lovely use of tonality and splendid shredding.”
But TDT got the most glowing review from Lamb of God’s Adler, who declared he wanted to tour with the band. TDT vocalist Mithun Raj ka Munz says the band was ec- static to know that Adler, whose music they covered as a band in 2009, had even heard their music. Says Raj, “This is the best award you can get. What else do you need?” Drummer Ganesh Radhakrishnan adds, “This is winning. That’s the real award.” Winning is especially a big deal for Raj, who stood by and indulged the Indian metal fan in himself by catching Demonic Resurrection’s headline set, comprising new material from their fourth album, The Demon King. Says Raj, “Back in Kannur in my house, I have all the winners of Rolling Stone Metal Awards on my wall. That was how big a deal it was. I was looking up. Now, we are here, in this venue, I’m seeing these guys and talk- ing to them. That’s an honor. Apart from the awards, this is the best part, that we’re getting recognized.”
This article appeared in the July 2014 issue ofÂ ROLLING STONE India.Â
Watch all the action from RSMA 2014