The Down Troddence Ring In The New Year By Releasing Debut
With a 10-track debut album just out, groove metal band The Down Troddence look back the journey that brought them this far
When groove/folk metal band The Down Troddence was formed in 2009, the biggest challenge, says band frontman Mithun Raj, was finding an audience. Adds Raj, better known as Munz,“We were based in Kannur, which is in northern Kerala. From my memory, there have only ever been two real gigs in the city; that’s pretty much the whole scene.”
When The Down Troddence did get to play the occasional gig in neighboring cities and townsÂ it wasn’t without its fair share of hiccups. Their first ever gig in late 2009, at an engineering college in Kannur, was canned midway by Christian missionaries that ran the institution; the band was branded “sons of Satan” after the authorities misheard the lyrics in their cover of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets.” Munz also recalls a gig in Kasargod, a neighboring town, which ended with a mob of angry men wielding bamboo sticks chasing them to their tour bus. The mob believed that The Down Troddence were encouraging drug abuse through their music.
These days though, things are looking up for The Down Troddence. They released their debut album How Are You? We Are Fine, Thank You on New Year’s Eve in Bengaluru. They even played alongsideÂ more seasoned metal bands such as thrash/melodic death metal stalwarts Inner Sanctum and local doom fiends Bevar Sea in Bengaluru, their new adopted home, .
The debut album marks a significant phase for the band. Says Munz, “Starting a band in Kannur is more than a dream.”Â It’s this sense of frustration
Â and parochialism, which they’ve encountered, that the album articulates, adds bassist Nezer Ahemed, who also writesÂ lyrics. “Hell Within Hell,”one of the earliest tracks they composed, looks at the incidence of political riots, murders and politically-motivated gang wars in their city. “Honestly, that’s what Kannur’s famous for, not for metal,” Ahemed says, explaining that they’re a band who have something to say about the state of affairs around them. Whether it’s narrating the story of the Karivellur uprising against the British in 1946 in “Forgotten Martyrs,” or sympathizing with the often-vilified and “down-trodden” Ravanna in “Shiva,” there’s a strong anti-establishment streak that emerges from the album. “We even have a song called “KFC,” which we specially dedicate to young people today who say they don’t care about politics, don’t read books and are proud about it,” Munz says, bemoaning the state of urban youth apathy towards social concerns. “If you want to criticize anything, you must know the basics of it.”
Musically, the album falls within the groove metal framework set out by genre pioneers like Sepultura, with an added Indian folk influence. The band particularly draws from pottan theyyam, a traditional folk performance local to Kannur, which is often used in protest movements. “The folk influence is something we all grew up with,” Ahemed says, “Folk music so big in Kannur that it’s almost an academic stream. Apart from the social themes, the theyyam is also rather groove and rhythm based, so that’s how it crept into our composition process.”
According to Keshav Dhar, the album’s producer and the man behind prog metal supergroup Skyharbor, the folk influences on the album fit in seamlessly alongside metal. Dhar, who flew down to Bengaluru to work on the album late last year says, “They had something that I didn’t really hear in any of the other bands from the scene and that’s something I look out for. Folk influences in this genre usually sound cheesy or forced, but these guys do it very tastefully, not sounding like it’s a gimmick.” Â Dhar says.
Working with Dhar, a musician that The Down Troddence has “followed from his Hydrodjent days,” had its fanboy moments. “We couldn’t believe he was actually producing our album; he’s an excellent producer to work with,” Munz says, “We brought him down for 20 days, but he had the whole thing tracked at our apartment in seven days.”
To get a sense of what they’re about, their debut video for the single “Shiva” is the perfect reference point; a little under five minutes, the song is a barrage of brutal metalcore riffage interspersed with melodic guitar solos and whiplash-inducing breakdowns. With the album now out, The Down Troddence are looking to gig as much as they can to promote the release. Hopefully, it’ll be fewer angry lynch mobs and more circle pits, this time around.Â
Buy The Down Troddence albumÂ How Are You? We Are Fine, Thank YouÂ here.
Watch the video forÂ “Shiva” here