Heathen Beast, who I’ve covered previously, are one of India’s finest purveyors of what I guess would be pagan black metal. A band not afraid to include local instrumentation and language into their scathing cauldron of raging riffs. ‘Trident’ features their three EPs combined, from ‘Ayodhya Burns’ through ‘Drowning of the Elephant God’ up to their latest, ‘The Carnage of Godhra’, which I reviewed here earlier this year. Side note, I actually fucking adore that elephant god imagery on their cover, it drips with ancient power and it’s so unique.
Opener ‘Blind Faith’ is vicious, straight to the point and potent with power. This isn’t tinny black metal, this is extremity with depth and thick riffage. The vocals are harsh and raw, which suits the band’s anti-religious and anti-fascist message. ‘Religious Genocide’ is a skull rattling assault on the senses, with an intense buzzing tremolo riff coupled with bloodcurdling roars. ‘Ayodhya Burns’ brings together the traditional instrumentation with strong black metal savagery.
It’s an interplay we see a lot in Heathen Beast’s work, but not so much from other bands in the region. Maybe it’s to avoid pigeonholing, but I feel that other bands miss out on the experience that Heathen Beast offer. Black metal is often part and parcel with pagan metal, and an exploration of roots and ethnicity is important for a lot of metallers. Heathen Beast allow the listeners to immerse themselves in a little taste of Indian culture, while not losing out on the pure vicious evil of black metal. Songs like the howling ‘Drowning of the Elephant God’ or rampant Dissection-esque moments in ‘Contamination of the Ganges’ mix the Eastern and Western influences to potent effect.
‘Trident’ is interesting as well because it shows how Heathen Beast have matured as a band. Tracks 1-3 have a more basic, thrashing rage about them. Tracks 4-6 take that and increase the complexity of songwriting and the ethnic elements, and tracks 7-9 build on that even more. ‘Trident’ improves with every song, and by the end you are left wanting more. Fantastic release from a fantastic band, well worth seeking out!