Year in Indian Rock – 09 & the years gone by…..
The Year – 1991 was my first brush with an Indian rock band performing live. Those were the days when MTV had just launched in India, GNR was the biggest rock band around and Metallica had shook up the record industry with the release of the ‘Black Album’.
In Delhi in the 90’sthere used to be an Inter-school rock competition called Cornucopia also known as “Bandstand”. It showcased the best of Indian rock acts in the high school circuit in the capital. Parikrama was headlining the competition and it was also their first time on stage. I was a school kid then and one of the lucky few to have been present at their first ever concert. As usual the set was dominated with covers of International acts. But the fact that Sonam Sherpa could nail solos of Slash & Jimmy Page meant the world to me. To my surprise they are still around after 18 long years and so am I. I had with me then, three Indian Rock albums. “Rock N Roll Renegade” by Rock Machine, “Ground Zero” by Cochin rockers 13 Ad and “Glam Bam Thank You Mam” by the Mumbai glam rockers Hazzard. I still have these tapes lying around somewhere.
In 1993, Pune rockers, Agni released “Wind Dance with Fire”. This was an album which I consider a landmark of sorts since it made people stand up & take notice of the growing rock scene in our country. I remember walking into a record store in Mumbai in 1996 when Pentagram released their debut album “We are not listening”. Plus Music, a major Indian record label back then released it and that was the first time I saw an Indian rock album gracing the shelves of record stores right next to International heavyweights like Metallica and Aerosmith. I bought the album and made it a point to call my cousins abroad to give them the breaking news that Indian rock had finally arrived.
Fast forward to 2009, and I have so much to choose from the Indian rock stable. Now, I can safely say that the Indian Rock scene has matured with the acceptance of original music and some high standards of production. The acceptance of OCs was inevitable with time. But what makes me most happy is the production on albums in the last couple of years. This is something which bands and fans alike should be proud of. The music was always there, but the production standards never did justice to a band’s originals. Today the recording and production of independent music is comparable to the International standards. Bands are also ensuring that their albums sound good. All this has also been made possible by the people who work tirelessly behind the scenes – the producers, the managers, record labels, sound engineers etc.
This year has to be a benchmark year of sorts. Maximum number of independent rock albums have been released this year as compared to any other year as far as I can recall. Not surprising then, for the first time ever, the playlist on my Ipod has more independent Indian albums than International ones. Metal album releases have been ruling the roost this year. The most noteworthy of the lot has been “Provenance”, the debut album of Bangalore thrashers Inner Sanctum. With its studio recording done in Bangalore and the mixing and mastering done in Germany, this is one album that makes every Indian metalhead proud .Thrash Metal in its purest and unadulterated form.
Another bunch of Bangalore metallers made a mark with their debut album. Theorized with its old school riffing,created some serious gut wrenching music with “False Hope Of Tyranny”. Also, Bhayanak Maut’s album was an aural assault from start to finish. By far one of the best Indian metal releases in the last few years.
Mumbai moshers Infernal Wrath experimented with Indian classical music influences and traditional extreme metal on their debut album that surprised a lot of people and silenced the critics. A bunch of seasoned musicians who have put in their heart and soul into a heavy metal record and the result is there to see. One of the mainstays of Indian Rock, Delhi rockers Themclones released their long awaited debut album “Love. Hate. Heroes.” With some brilliant production and packaging to boast of. Themclones is finally enjoying success they so richly deserve.
The other notable album release this year was Amog Symphony’s “Abolishing the Obsolete System”. The brainchild of Vishaljit Singh, this is a progressive metal album that fans and critics can’t stop raving about. Alternative rockers from Kolkata The Supersonics released “Maby Baking” on a major Indian record label and toured the entire length of this country promoting it. Junkyard Groove’s album “11:11” was another record release fans were waiting for.
Amongst the the new breed of Indian acts, bands like Artillerie, Rabbit is Rich, Parachute XVI, Slain & The Circus were shaking up venues on the live circuit. Live performances are something which Indian acts have worked hard on in the year gone by.. There are benchmarks now set by bands like Undyin Inc, Inner Sanctum and Bhayanak Maut. This was evident by the tight performances at the recently concluded GIR and Deccan Rock festivals . Just Sounding good on tape for Indian bands is history.
The year 2009 for me is also the year of the ‘Indian independent music management labels’. Labels which multi-task as independent record labels, concert/record production houses and artist management companies. Gone are the days when bands & organizers were required to toil for venues for concerts, studios and production for albums. The professional music labels take care of everything right from the production of organizing a concert, recording an album upto the post production and distribution stage of the record. The mushrooming of websites, webzines and forums on the internet in the last few years has helped catapult the Indian underground music movement to the mainstream.The year gone by saw Indian acts such as Indigo Children, Medusa & Swarathma tour the UK. Shaair & Func have been constantly touring the west & with Kryptos & Demonic Resurrection announcing festival performances in Europe in the coming year,things can only get better from here.
The “Indian Rock movement” if I may call it so has been an integral part of my life as far as I can remember. And this year has been significant with it’s milestones. I’m all kicked now waiting for newer surprises in the coming years!
Written By Jitesh Rajan
Jitesh Rajan is a Ad professional by day and a die hard ’Metal head’ by night. He is one of the handful of guys who work selflessly to promote the Indian underground Scene.