Posts Tagged ‘Heathen Beast’

If there was ever a band that can truly speak to the foul corruptions of government, it is India’s Heathen Beast. Their new release, ‘$cam’, is a scathing indictment of the Indian government and their practices, wrapped within a barbed wire petrol bomb of a release. ‘$cam’ is 21 minutes of some of the fiercest political grindcore you’ll find, laced with a black edge. It is out now on Transcending Obscurity.

The inspiration behind ‘$cam’ is the mass demonetisation of the sub continent’s currency, leaving 90% of banknotes worthless. This has seemingly left the poor so much worse off than the rich, tax avoiders it was designed to take down. Heathen Beast tackles the issue with visceral intent, including such potent song titles as ‘It’s Only a Minor Inconvenience’ and the disturbing ‘If You Disagree You Are Anti-National, Go to Pakistan’. You get the idea of how the government seem to approach the issue. Musically the musical is a ravaging mix of Rotten Sound, Napalm Death and Impaled Nazarene, where nasty riffs meet shrieking rage and whirling drums.

When matched with soundbites echoing the real life effects of this scheme, ‘$cam’ takes on a whole new urgency. In a place where this kind of outward criticism could lead to serious consequences, Heathen Beast are even more vital and pertinent. The odd flourish of traditional instrumentation keeps you in the moment, and the intensity feels real. Get a hold of this before they go, and learn about something outside your comfort zone.

https://heathenbeastindia.bandcamp.com/album/cam-blackened-grindcore

https://www.facebook.com/HeathenBeast/

https://tometal.com/

 

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Heathen Beast are one of my favourite discoveries from the overflowing metal well of India. Scathingly antireligious black metal with an intense cultural vibe and socio-political lyrics create something totally unique and yet totally familiar. In a country where such bands function in the knowledge that certain actions may have repercussions, Heathen Beast are a rising voice of protest. Their new EP, the howling ‘Rise of the Saffron Empire’, is out 25th of April on Transcending Obscurity.

The opening title track is unleashed with tribal menace, building with percussion and a hypnotic riff before detonating into brutal blasting and savage shrieking. The ethnic instrumentation that Heathen Beast have employed so expertly in the past is at the forefront, but this is not folk metal, nor pagan black metal. This is black metal filtered through the sweltering heat of India. It’s uncompromising, relentless and savage.

‘Rise of the Saffron Empire’ explores the implications and realities of life under a Hinduist regime that plans to force their religious views on others (hence the use of saffron in the title, a Hindu holy colour). ‘The Systematic Annihilation of Islam’ follows this theme, with some of the record’s more eerie melodies surreptiously seeping through the blackened fury. Heathen Beast challenge their country’s core belief systems and their government, risking their freedom for the right to say what they feel. It gives their black metal a edge of danger that is lacking in a lot of modern black metal. ‘Swachh Bharat’ brings us to a close in a crawling miasma of evil atmosphere, rasping vocals and traditional instrumentation.

Heathen Beast are an essential part of their nation’s culture. In a world where speaking out against injustices, racism or religious intolerance is not as easy as it can be in the West, ‘Rise of the Saffron Empire’ is a frightening look into a world where these beliefs can be a threat to your safety. If anything, this makes what ‘Rise of the Saffron Empire’ represents even more important, and the music behind the message is just as raw and as furious as the message itself. Utterly essential, as always.

https://transcendingobscurityindia.bandcamp.com/album/rise-of-the-saffron-empire-black-metal

http://tometal.com/

 

Early releases in a band’s career can really show you where they are going, and sometimes can show you just how good they are going to be. Here’s my favourites from this year, and why a demo is still as important as ever.

10. Funerary Bell – Graveyard Seance: in a year where black metal didn’t strike me as often as I’d like, Funerary Bell’s EP gave me hope that the genre still has a lot of merit. Injected with menace, and a ghostly shriek pushes them onto my list.

9. Gaijin – Gaijin: Technical death metal carnage from a band who will be very interesting to keep an eye on.

8. Heathen Beast – The Carnage of Godhra: What would become the last third of ‘Trident’, ‘The Carnage at Godhra’ is a brutal piece of quality, chunky black metal that benefits from dashes of ethnic instrumentation and socio-political lyrics.

7. Exenemy – Overture: One of the finer bits of traditional and power metal I’ve come across this year, Exenemy rip some high quality riffs with oodles of melody. Killer stuff.

6. Heaven Abhorred – Opening the Gate: Raw, malevolent black metal goodness. Channeling second wave black metal legends, Heaven Abhorred are another to keep an eye on.

5. Severe Lacerations – Incantation of Sorrow: Killer North West death metal with a ruthless streak a mile long, this will be a band to keep an eye on. Brutality plain and simple.

4. Mist – Inan: What a beautiful piece of doom this is. Reminding me of my favourite record from last year, Mount Salem’s ‘Endless’, Mist have perfected this kind of Sabbathian groove. I love it

3. Hellripper – The Manifestation of Evil: Oh my fucking christ this slays. It slays so hard I bought the tape, and I don’t have a tape player! ‘Total Mayhem’ could be my favourite song of the year, although it has some stiff competition.

2. Runemaster-  Futhark Dawning: This is prime heavy metal. This is metal at it’s beating, stone heavy heart. Each anthem is catchy, each riff is killer, and the simple fact that it channels such a primal feeling of joy means that its a favourite.

1. Plague Rider – Paroxysm: This is one of the weirdest death metal mindfucks I’ve heard in ages, and that simple fact puts it to number one. Plague Rider are in no way afraid to do anything they need to create something truly special. ‘Paroxysm’ is my number one for its fearless invention and its brutality.

I did a full genre by genre breakdown last year, and while I’ll try to put that together in the next few days, I thought I ‘d start with my overall favourites. I spent 2015 listening to a shitload of independent, underground stuff, and a lot of older stuff. My favourite non-2015 record of the year was ‘British Steel’, closely followed by Accept’s superlative ‘Balls to the Wall’. It was clearly a classic metal year.I’ve also not heard anywhere near as many of the records I wanted to. So there’s probably been a few good ones you’re wondering why are missing. Tell me, so I can find them!

I’m adding a late disclaimer to this; at point of writing I haven’t heard the new Baroness record. It’d probably be in here, but its not fair to these other great records to stick it in just because I’m guessing how good it is.

10. Zgard – Totem: A Ukrainian windswept masterpiece of folky black metal. ‘Totem’ proved that while fellow countryman Drudkh has perfected the style, there are still bands that can challenge the supremacy. Majestic.

9. Paradise Lost – The Plague Within: What can be said? Yorkshire doom lords return with one of this year’s finest pieces of gothic misery. Proof that you can always rely on the old guard to bring it.

8. Plague Rider – Paroxysm: Only EP to make this list, English tech death stars Plague Rider makes this kind of mind bending death metal look easy. I cannot wait to hear what is coming next.

7. Islay – The Angels Share: German melodeath underground heroes Islay have written one of 2015’s most impressive records. ‘The Angels Share’ is an odyssey, owing debts to At the Gates and Amon Amarth, but always remaining their own.

6. Heathen Beast – Trident: One of India’s brightest hopes, and one of their most talented acts, Heathen Beast bring to you scathing, black metal with enough unique ethnic touches to make them stand out and be instantly recognisable.

5. Chiral – Night Sky: In a year where Sivjr Yar pushed him close, Chiral brought out my favourite black metal of the year. Epic in scope, majestic in execution, and truly heart-wrenching at points, ‘Night Sky’ is how atmospheric black metal should be done.

4. Undersmile – Anhedonia: A scorching, dynamic slab of proper British doom. Melancholy and bleak, but always vital and alive. ‘Atacama Sunrise’ is one of my favourite songs of this year, and it is my top doom record of 2015.

3. Shrapnel Storm – Mother War: In a year of epic death metal, Shrapnel Storm’s album kept getting played. Maybe it’s satisfying my craving for more Bolt Thrower, I don’t know, but maybe its just because it is a crushing machine of riffs and death. Love it.

2. Necrocosm – Damnation Doctrine: In any year where there WASN’T a new Nile record, this would have been my top record. I love the complexity, the unhinged savagery but also the supreme melodic flair with which these guys kill. ‘Damnation Doctrine’ needs to be the death metal record you hear this year

NUMBER ONE: Nile – What Should Not Be Unearthed: I love Nile. I love everything they do. I loved this album before I heard it. But then I did. I heard how Karl Sanders and co had brought their signature sound to yet more intricate, punishing and most importantly GREAT death metal. Writing songs for themselves should be what they do more often, we are all just lucky to hear it.

Did I miss anything essential? Please let me know and I hope you seek out and support all the artists here.

 

Heathen Beast - Logo

Heathen Beast have become, for me, a big favourite. This year’s ‘Trident’ release collects together their three EPs into a single CD release, and you can watch their progression from raw black metal act into something more sophisticated and more socailly aware. I spoke to Carvaka Samkhya about how Heathen Beast came about, their message and how their Indian heritage affects the band’s output.

Tell us a little bit about Heathen Beast, the influences and concept behind it

CS: We are a collective from India and we are atheistic in nature.We believe in no god and no religion and we sing about things that are relevant to our country and culture.Musically we try and bring in more Indian sounds because it’s who we are. The concept is to make great music and spread a meaningful message, which is religion is the root cause of all evil. We remain anonymous.

Is it more difficult to be an atheistic band in a country like India? The West has kind of lost their dominant respect for religion these days, but spirituality and religion is still very important in your country

CS: Not really because in India metal is very underground and unless it’s into mainstream culture no one will care.

It’s just because you’ve kept your anonymity, I assumed your lyrical themes may have caused you problems. I take it there is a lot of religious collisions in India? I’ve read a lot about issues in Kashmir etc

CS: No it’s because we are a metal band and no one cares the uneducated masses of this country have no interest in metal and our kind of music isn’t plastered in the papers but yes if tomorrow some paper printed our stuff on their front page it would be a problem. There is a lot of religious clashes in India. Many times things are happening in small towns and villages and they don’t even get reported also at times the media will sensationalize a small incident and give it a communal edge. Politicians are famous for doing that too.

Yeah I’ve been reading about Modi and his hardline Hindu government. Even though you’re atheistic, does the spiritual history of India affect how you write? You use native instrumentation and discuss cultural events, is it important that Heathen Beast still be seen as part of Indian culture? In the same way that Norwegian pagan bands celebrate their own country’s history while railing against the crimes of religion?

CS: yes for us it made no sense to copy the Norwegians. We of course took our inspiration fro the Norwegian greats of black metal because that inspired us musically but it make no sense to copy them stylistically or lyrically even.

Where do the musical influences for Heathen Beast come from? Which bands were key reference points when you started?

CS: Emperor, Darkthrone, Immortal, Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir, Old Man’s Child, Mayhem. But it is life and our country that inspires us, our hatred for religion and the concept of god.

Heathen Beast - Trident

After I reviewed Trident, I went straight online and ordered a copy. Have you had a lot of good feedback both at home and further afield?

CS: thank you so much. whatever feedback we have got has been great so far. We don’t play live and it’s not so easy to spread your music these days but for us we are okay with going slow and steady. We anyway release our material slow and in 3 song EP formats. There are too many bands right now and everyone is just fighting for the attention of the fans.

Yeah there’s a lot of over saturation in all types of metal, and even if your material is great you can still get lost in the mix. There’s a lot of great metal coming out of India at the moment, has there been a catalyst for that recently, or has it always been there?

CS: No since actually in the late 80s and early 90s there were some bands like Postmark, Millennium and Dying Embrace who had releases and in fact Millennium was even having a video on MTV at that time. Then in the late 90s and early 2000s bands like Threnody, Mindsnare, Kryptos, Demonic Resurrection, PDV, Acrid Semblance and all these bands started playing and spearheading the movement of original music when the audience was wanting covers. The by the time of say 2005-2008 most bands were writing material from the start itself. So around 2010 we formed and it was natural to write our own music.

Demonic Resurrection were the first band I really heard from India. Has their success brought more of a spotlight on music from your area of the world do you think?

CS: maybe a little bit, they are a very big band, they have played lots of shows in Europe, them and also Kryptos and now even Gutslit. So I think all these bands touring is definitely bringing some attention to the scene

Where do you see the scene in India heading? Is it going to move from strength to strength, or is this ‘burn fast burn bright’ at the moment? Bands like yours have the quality to stay in people’s minds, but what of others?

CS: like every single scene in the world there are good bands and not so good bands. So in India as the scene gets more and more crowded bands will work harder and write better music to stand out so it will become good. So we think it will only get more amazing!

You have a lot of great bands there already, is there any that haven’t got much attention yet that the Killchain should investigate?

There are so many! I think most of them are now signing up with Kunal (Transcending Obscurity label head) so he will send you their stuff!

Haha yeah he sends me a lot. Well thanks a lot for doing this with me, is there anything else you want to add or say?

just want to say thank you to all those who support us and those who like our music. Hailz!!! \m/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

https://www.facebook.com/HeathenBeast

https://transcendingobscurityindia.bandcamp.com/album/trident-black-metal

http://tometal.com/

Something that describes itself as ‘atheistic black metal’ is almost like being ‘heavy death metal’. It seems inherent to the genre, yet Calcutta’s Heathen Beast use atheism as a potent lyrical tool rather than the more straightforward ‘Kill God, Fuck Religion’ etc. They also infuse their black metal with some nice Indian ethnic instrumentation as well as spoken word intros.

The music itself is raging black metal with hints of death metal slid into the mix. It seems almost too easy to compare them to Melechesh, what with the Middle Eastern/Asian instrumental flourishes, but there is a definite similarity in parts. Heathen Beast are not as grand as their Israeli cousins, but they have the same sense of ‘less is more’ when it comes to the integration of the non metal elements.

‘The Carnage of Godhra’ is built of three tracks, all three stretching to six minutes and over. There are some cool progressive moments in here too, like the almost polyrhythmic mid section of ‘Ab Ki Baar Atyachar’, but the main core is a blasting black metal one. Eastern melodies float through the blackness of the title track, and the aforementioned ‘Ab Ki Baar Atyachar’ has some definite tribal influences. Closer ‘Gaura Yatra’ is uber melodic, welding desert melodies to a roaring beast of a vocal line. The atmosphere here is very reminiscient of Nile, without the inherent heaviness of that band. A dense, rumbling tribal percussion provides the base for soaring guitar lines and a killer melody. It’s probably the finest song here.

This is a great release from a new favourite band. ‘The Carnage of Godhra’ is an ambitious piece, carried off well by an ambitious band. Heathen Beast have excelled themselves here, molding a fiery, savage black metal album that doesn’t shy away from melodies or experimentation in the deliverance of their messages. And its on their Bandcamp for Buy It Now, so if you’re stupid enough to miss out on this, then you didn;t deserve to bathe in its majesty anyway!

Heathen Beast Facebook

Heathen Beast Bandcamp