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Video: Rolling Stone Metal Awards 2013

Watch all the action from the loudest and heaviest metal night this year

Anurag Tagat Jul 12, 2013
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Skyharbor's Keshav Dhar. Photo: Prashin Jagger

Skyharbor’s Keshav Dhar. Photo: Prashin Jagger

During one among the eight trips Skyharbor guitarists Keshav Dhar and Devesh Dayal made to the stage at the Rolling Stone Metal Awards to collect an award, Dhar said of his win, “It’s really amazing to get this kind of recognition, even though this song is four years old.” He’s referring to “Dots,” a composition written during Dhar’s early days when he wrote under the moniker Hydrodjent. The track won the Best Song award in both, Critics’ Choice and Popular Choice categories at RSMA 2013.

It’s not surprising to see Skyharbor sweep the awards this year, despite the fact that the five-piece supergroup is spread across the U.S., U.K. and India, is just one album old and has played very few gigs. What they have going for them, which Dhar is a bit modest about, is their sound that’s got the thumbs up from everyone like former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman to Indian sessions guitarist Vishal J Singh. Now there’s more ”“ with RSMA jury members such as Trevor Strnad (of The Black Dahlia Murder) and Max Cavalera (of Soulfly) putting Skyharbor on the winner’s list. Dhar worked on songs off Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos for close to five years, reworking them and upgrading his equipment until it sounded good enough to hook a listener from the moment he/she hit play.

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Dhar wasn’t at the RSMA last year, when his band picked up four awards for their single “Maeva,” leaving Dayal to pick up the award. But this time, he’s here and he’s excited. “It’s just very flattering to be here and of course, it’s an excuse to come hang out with all these people I know,” says Dhar.

As was the case with previous years, RSMA was as much about the awards as it was about the performances. Nominees Rectified Spirit from Guwahati, Delhi black metal band 1833 AD and Mumbai thrash metal band Devoid all went on to better each other’s set. Rectified Spirit’s Mumbai debut saw drummer Nishant Hagjer blast his way through and vocalist Rainjong Lepcha showcased a vocal range wide enough to please any metal fan. Their five-track setlist included “Vengeance” and “Where The Ashes Fell” ”“ ranging from headbang-happy metalcore to guitar-solo-led power metal to straight up Judas Priest and Iron Maiden-worshipping metal.

Black metallers 1833 AD ran through songs off their three-part-concept album My Dark Symphony, which snagged the Best Album Artwork award. They debuted “Sephiroth’s Curse,” with frontman Nishant Abraham and guitarist Rahul Mehalwal shredding away, closing with one of their oldest songs, “End of Time.” Thrash metallers Devoid took to stage with material from their EP The Invasion, playing an intense set as they ploughed through songs like “Battle Cry,” “The Brahma Weapon,” and “Pandemonium Is Now,” dedicating their set to Indianrockmp3 founder , Santosh Lobo.

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When headliners Scribe took to stage, frontman Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy did what he does best ”“ charm the hell out of a crowd. He’d make it as a stand-up comedian if it weren’t for love for metal ”“ growling, rapping, air-piano-playing his way through Scribe’s set of old and new, including “Cops Cops Cops” and “Calendar, Khana Lao” from their upcoming album Hail Mogambo, throwing in  a cover of “What Goes Around…” by Justin Timberlake.

Drummer Virendra Kaith wore a Spiderman mask, while the band went up wearing party hats, all of which found their way into the crowd soon enough. Their new vocalist, Gagan Gill, was very much part of the comic, brutal, Bollywood-inspired celebration that is Scribe’s performance. Gill got an initiation, at first with an embarrassing nickname (“Chudail”), and then crowdsurfed during the band’s final performance of “I Love You, Pav Bhaji.” The packed crowd represented not just Mumbai, but even Nashik and Pune. “People travel to Bengaluru for international acts, so why not for Indian bands?” said Arbaaz Khan, who came down from Nashik with three other friends adding, “Anything for metal.”

This article appeared in the July 2013 issue of ROLLING STONE India 


Watch all the action from the Rolling Stone Metal Awards 2013 here

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