Through the changing cadences of Indian music, where popular film songs drown out any tune that is not termed as trendy or catchy, there is emerging a wave of desi rock/metal bands that break all clichés, refusing to be defined by genres. Their goal: to make good music, carve their own path in Indian music scene and make music for the sake of music. Among the pro-Western genres, the metal scene is growing so fast in South India that there are proud ‘metalheads’ down south; thanks to band like Bengaluru-based The Black Regiment.
At the third edition of Infernal Fest in Kochi, one of the hot attractions was The Black Regiment, whose lead guitarist Darshan Hegde finds the crowd amazing and supportive. It’s not their first show in the city. “In 2017, we performed at Vicious Riots 3, Fort Kochi, with Dehydrated from Russia and the homeboys from Amorphia. We had a blast with everyone who showed up. I remember the cops showed up towards the end, which made it heavier metal (Pun: Viscous Riots)! Since then, I believe, we have had a decent reach in Kerala and our debut EP album was quite well received. This time, we are hoping to re-connect with our comrades out there and hopefully open up to more,” says Darshan.
“I believe that metal has been predominantly followed down South for many years now. Now, metal has reached quite subtly to the mainstream movie industry. I hear riffs and double bass beats in movie soundtracks these days. However, there has been a minor sub-genre group-ism which might stop encouraging bands to experiment and evolve down South. Infernal Fest in Kerala will bring out the metal exposure to local crowd. Such fests have a profound impact on the way metal will be perceived. Sort of an underground movement, Metal bands are never ‘sell-offs’. However, for its pan-Indian reach, local bands should work together, collaborate with other musicians and artists, leverage online platform and keep making original music”
Looking back at its inception days in 2013- end, Darshan says the journey has been bittersweet, but all worth it. “There was a lot to learn and experience. There’s some sense of accomplishment for some dreams. In spite of a lot of line-up changes and all the motivation to stop, somehow someway, I carried on, soldier on! At first, we’d just do random jamming for fun. Back then, a lot of new bands were forming, but love for the music kept us moving forward. A lot of venues were also opening up for metal bands, offering us opportunity and motivation to form a band. We were experimental at the start,” he adds.
Asked about one of their original scores that would describe the band and its philosophy at its purest form, Darshan goes, “The Ultimate Soldier is the one and that says all about us.” The group, which saw some serious line-up change in the past few years now feature Darshan Hegde (guitars) Akshun Kumar (guitars, leaving soon) Gopal Krishna (bass guitar), Sharath Holla (drums) and Rahul Raj (vocals).
It was common for metal bands to be shunned away by the average music listener in the past. Darshan says there are some common misconceptions or ‘taboo tags’ that goes with the genre. “People think metalheads do drugs, are very aggressive and their music is noisy. That’s not true. I don’t even booze! These misconceptions inhibit general acceptance. For instance, one cannot play metal music loud in public here and expect people around not to be bothered vs playing a Bollywood song.”
Despite the growing popularity, it is no secret that indie music has not been credited well by the public and lacks platforms. “For metalheads, metal is so special they don’t wanna part it with ‘regular people’. Metalheads are few, but proud! However, for an art to thrive, it should also evolve, which would require a good reach. Metal should reach out to everyone. Imagine the number of yet-to-be metalheads discovering their love for metal.”
The band which draws inspiration from old school cult bands such as Iron Maiden, Pantera, Motorhead, slayer, Megadeth, Tool, coroner and Slipknot, are working on some new projects. “Currently, I’m working on new material which very progressive, off signatures and non-repetitive riffs. We’re also planning on some videos concepts for our original material. Guitarist Akshun is leaving to Australia shortly, so we’re also on a look out for a replacement,” he wraps up.