Heavy metal is synonymous with anti-establishment ideals, confluences of people in mosh pits, head-banging, and an incredible sense of community. The rise of metal mania in India may have come as a surprise for elder generations who breathe in raagas, but this was only inevitable.
Bangalore: Where it all began!
It isn’t difficult to trace the origins of the Indie metal scene. An entire generation of the Indian demographic was introduced to classic rock & metal in their school years. In the mid-90s, Bangalore became the go to city for the young and restless IT junkies, what with many a company setting base there. The eclectic tastes of the cityscape was doused into music of the heavy sort. People started to jam, paying no heed to the cultural diktat. Bars which celebrated alternative tastes popped up. The scene was off to an incredible start.
‘Millennium’ based in Bangalore, India’s first metal band, was formed in the late 80s.
These pioneers of metal in India- ‘Millennium’ hosted a concert in 1989, in tandem with other local musicians, called ‘The Eternal Spirit of Iron Maiden’. Tickets were priced at Rs. 15 and Rs. 20…THANKS INFLATION! The concert truly was a first in establishing the existence of metal on the music scene, and more importantly, convincing the bands that there is an eager audience awaiting.
The scene has come a long way since then. Early bands like Kryptos and Dying Embrace played at poorly organized college festivals. But times they a soon began changing and bands began to perform at pubs all around Bangalore. Big alcohol brands started pouring money into shows, enabling organizers to host at a completely another level. Soon, one saw a number of festivals rising, dedicated solely to metal. Sensational names, bigger venues, pricier tickets, and yet drawing large crowds.
Iron Maiden in India
The scene got a sharp turn when Iron Maiden performed at Bangalore in 2007. Not in one’s dreams had one ever expected a band as legendary as Iron Maiden to perform live in India. Their concert was just the booster to set the Metal ball rolling. Famous bands started flying into India, and touring the bigger cities.
Festivals too have been instrumental in promoting metal in India. They’ve been a fantastic platform for local talent, as well as bringing International bands down. One of the first festivals which had a massive impact on the scene was (now defunct) ‘Rock ‘n India’. Launched in 2008, and held every year until 2012 in Palace Grounds, Bangalore, the festival was responsible for bringing to Indian metal-heads some of their greatest memories. They’ve hosted bands like Machine Head, Megadeath, Iron Maiden’s third performance, Metallica’s first performance in India in 2011 – a night Bangalore will remember for a good few decades, and Slayer.
Bangalore has always been a warm host to metal-heads, with their array of festivals which includes Great Indian Rock, Deccan Rock, and Rock Ethos. Bands like Sepultura, Fear Factory, Textures, Tesseract, and Lamb of God have played to audiences of multiple thousands.
The Indie Metal Scene
Local talent has played the biggest part in moving the scene forwards. While the movement still requires venues sponsors, the advent of independently run record labels have secured the musicians to a certain degree. Music demands space for experimentation, and having the musical climate change so dynamically over the past decade has been a boon to the music-makers.
2017 sees incredible acts making noise from the unlikeliest of places, like the village of Sukna in West Bengal with the four-piece band If Hope Dies.
Experimentation has known no bounds with New Delhi-based band Bloodywood who introduced djent to India’s persistent love for Bollywood music.
And Mute the Saint who have crowds mosh-ing to sitar-backed progressive metal.
Independent record labels have been monumental in pushing music to the India’s billowing crowds. Gone are the days when the mere genre of metal would throw people off. Now we celebrate the genre, and all its intricate sub-genres.
Metal will probably never go as mainstream as it needs to in order to make money in a consumerist climate like ours, but rest assured your local mosh pit will be full.
Our musicians have gained international recognition, putting India on the global metal map. Bands like Demonic Resurrection, Bhayanak Maut, Scribe, Skyharbor, Zygnema, Gutslit, Bevar Sea, Undying Inc., and many, many others – and still growing – have sealed the deal.
Metal in India is here to stay!