– By Shruti Eswar (Review Team)
The entrance of Jayamahal Palace Hotel on July 6, 2013 was packed with around 3000 metalheads, both young and old in an assortment of band shirts from Sodom to Cannibal Corpse to Dream Theater, Tool and Periphery; some even sported Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree. The line-up for the evening reassured that Bangalore’s truly the Metal Capital of India. The turn-out was certainly a pleasant surprise, especially for a young metalhead like me. The evening started off with the Wacken Metal Battle which, as the name suggests, were the qualifiers to represent our country in the most prestigious Metal Festival of the world – Wacken Open Air in Germany. First up was Sycorax, the Thrash Metal band from Darjeeling followed by the popular Thrash Metallers Devoid who did emerge winners.
The city’s favourite blackened death metal band, Demonic Resurrection pumped us up for the evening with their set list that included “Dismembering the Fallen” and “Apocalyptic Dawn”. Frontman Sahil Makhija aka The Demonstealer soon gave his guitar a rest and wind-milled through on the Ronnie James Dio Stage. The next band to perform was the American Instrumental Progressive Metal band, Animals as Leaders who opened with “Wave of Babies” at the Jeff Hannenman Stage. Lead Tosin Abasi, drummer Matt Garstka and fellow eight-stringer Javier Reyes greeted the crowd with widest of grins. They delivered the perfect balance of technicality, skill and sheer domination of instruments as they ripped through “Tempting Time”, “Cylindrical Sea” and “An Infinite Regression” when Abasi merely said,” Our drummer is so metal he kicked through the bass drum”. This statement got a roar of approval. Their last song was CAFO which was the epitome of technicality that it got the fans to break into a mosh.
The pit became pretty barren as the Norwegian progressive metal band Leprous fired up the Dio Stage with some brutally impressive Prog Metal with epic guitar riffs and elegant keyboard smash-downs. Unfortunately they played the shortest set. But considering the fact that they’re progressive, each song wasn’t anything lesser than 6 minutes. The sudden change in weather i.e. the sunset and slight drizzled marked the end of their performance which was when Ihsahn came up on stage and said,” We brought the Norwegian weather along” as a murder of crows encircled above us. Things got eerier when he opened with his song “Arrival” which left us dumbstruck.
Soon, the Jeff Hannenman stage area was filled with ardent melodic death metal fans who cheered at the appearance of the Swedish band, Dark Tranquillity who opened with songs from their new album “Construct”. They abruptly stopped when Mikael Stanne awkwardly explained; “We’re having these technical difficulties I absolutely love”. They were, however overcome in no time and DT awed the pack with favourites like “Lethe”, “Dream Oblivion “and “Lost to Apathy” which the flock moshed to. They ended with “The Fatalist”. Even before Melo Death enthusiasts could catch their breath, Iced Earth started attracting people towards the Ronnie James Dio Stage with 1776. People ran, some even somersaulted in to the ground. There were fists punching the air and people headbanging to the tunes of the American Power Metal band who moved on to playing “Dystopia”. Guitarist John Schaffer and vocalist Stu Block took the lead and sang “I died for you” which was dedicated to Block’s brother. He requested the horde to put up the V or not the classic Dio devil’s horns. They were the last to perform but in my opinion, they positively stole the show with their epic music and larger than life album art serving as the backdrop. By the end of their performance, filled with fast percussive beats, the group was pumped up again. The police officers in the vicinity couldn’t resist bobbing their heads to it either. They closed with “Iced Earth”, complete with the double bass drum punctuation and fiery solo.
The festival ended with a high and the flood lights went on as we sauntered towards the gate of the charming old Jayamahal Palace Hotel. Deadly moshpits, perfect weather and the metal brotherhood made the evening legendary.