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Thursday, 26 November 2009

The Singapore data recovery

Hello those few and far between who make the wrong turn to my blog.I am back.After precisely 4 months and 12 days,I decided to make a return to this hallowed URL.If you haven't been able to tell from the title of this post yet (and in which case schizophrenia would be an accurate diagnosis),I am now based in Singapore.I'm here to study animation and I am loving everything about my education.Yes,contrary to the content on this blog on education,this course is easily the best treatment I have had till date.I'm at the Tisch School of the Arts Asia (yes,a branch of Tisch NYU).

To start with,it takes a complete shit on the ridiculous education system I had been subject to for the past 15 years (for more on that,please read previous posts).The assignments here are proper creations of digital art made by us,the students.The time crunch is similar to that in a real studio.The resources are fucking cool.We have Wacom tablets on every computer,3 of them with Cintiq screens.Half the computers have Digidesign Protools.The professors here really know what they're teaching.The point of education in this field here is not to teach the software,but how to use what in the software (if and when necessary) to create a certain piece of art.We are taught the origins of art,the reason behind creating certain pieces of art.3 of the professors here are/have been metal fans.One has seen Metallica live thrice and other bands like Iron Maiden,Sepultura,Sodom,Kreator,Death,Carcass etc.

The campus itself destroys.Even though its a film school,there is a lot of vegetation around in the lawns outside.Till now,I have seen cockatoos,grey parrots,a vine snake and a monitor lizard on campus.My colleagues destroy as well.There is no worry about being 'politically correct' here.They understand that it is a tool for the weak.

Singapore itself is pretty cool.So far,I have purchased 7 metal t-shirts here:Metallica,Amon Amarth,Lamb of God,HammerFall,Iced Earth,Dark Tranquillity and Arch Enemy.I have purchased a computer with crazily awesome specs.So awesome that it runs Crysis:Warhead like butter even at 'Gamer' graphic levels and 1280 x 1024 screen resolution.The residents are friendly,the place is slightly on the expensive side and there is no fucking difference between summer and winter.In short,I'm loving it here.

As far as metal goes,I have been hearing more of the old guns:Judas Priest,Queensryche etc.I've also been introduced to Singapore's very own Rudra.These guys play blackened death metal but their tunes are highly influenced by Indian classical and their lyrics are exclusively about the Vedas.Another great band I've been hearing is a Doom Gothic Metal band from Sweden called Draconian.These guys are the ultimate name (for me) in beautiful music.They combine male death growls with female serenades,on a batter of crunchy,slow,deliberate rhythms drenched in atmospheric,ambient keys.

I return to New Delhi on the 20th of December for the winter,for those interested.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Half-baked Adaptation:Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You

Hello,its been a long time since I made an original metal-unrelated post like this...oh,wait.No.OK,then its a long time since I made a post on cinema.And thanks to this current slurry of movies that are adapted from popular literature or recreation,my topic is quite relevant.

I recently saw Transformers 2:Revenge of the Fallen.I loved it.Yes,Megan Fox was in the movie and there were times I felt helpless about not being able to do anything to her...but,the special effects and animation work created magic with the Autobots v/s Decepticons battles themselves.From my wandering on the net,I have not yet come across very serious backlash against the accuracy of the story to this movie franchise (as I know nothing about it myself).Yet,a movie that recently (and after much delay) released in India before this one was the eagerly-awaited X-Men Origins:Wolverine.I was waiting for the day this movie would release and had extremely high hopes from it.Especially when I learned that among others,Deadpool is a featured character.I was raring to see the red uniformed sword master with a big mouth at his best,killing mutants for money:

What I got instead was a semi-mummified,naked-chested freak that was indestructible and was basically William Stryker's new toy.Far from the real Deadpool story (a mercenary who gets cancer and after ending up as a failed Weapon X program,gains healing abilities beyond Wolverine's).And this is just a small part of the bigger lamentation:the story itself.Wolverine is NOT Sabertooth's brother (rather,Sabertooth is Wolverine's gardener's son),he works at a lumberjack outpost immediately after escaping his home as opposed to the movie portrayal,he ALMOST kills his 1st Weapon X captor (which happens right after World War II) and many other such grievances.

Which brings me to my point:cinematic adaptations are almost completely exclusive of the real story.Directors these days just bank on a star actor portraying a character to gather the cash.Cases in point:Hugh Jackman as Wolverine,Sienna Miller as Baroness (for the upcoming G.I.Joe),Tom Hanks as Professor Robert Langdon etc.Yes,they all have a certain level of excitement in them,but when will they start doing justice to the real story?

And what about TOTAL bastardization of a franchise like Eragon?Where the hell do I begin with this complete waste of 70 mm reel?The fact that a DRAGON was given feathers?Or Arya's sexy brunette imagined image was urinated upon?Or the Urgals looking like fired sumo wrestlers and NOTHING like a sleeker version of the Minotaur?Or the fact that the WHOLE story was so badly mangled (removal of the Hadarac desert scene,no breaking of the Isidar Mithrim,no Solembum and not even the mention of Murtagh's Zar'roc wound) that by the time one reached the end,the only thing he can do is lament.

Other popular movie adaptations like the Harry Potter,The Lord of the Rings and Spiderman series are less infuriating with the inaccuracy (though I hate Sam Raimi for killing Venom off).But on a whole,I have learned that if I should watch an adaptation,I should just unlearn anything I know about the original story.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The real Delhi University

Its that ridiculous time of year again when school finishing students across India race to the ends of the land in search of academic salvation.Needless to say,its the engineering colleges that get most applicants,but 2nd only to that would be the number of application forms oozing into administrative offices of Delhi University.Everyone wants to be part of Delhi University(useful hint:its abbreviated as DU,because it makes you sound a tad cooler than you actually might be),where studying is a criminal offense (2nd only to not smoking).

Central to DU,the college who's facade immediately jumps to mind on mention of it is St. Stephen's college.This college is the epitome of 'cool'.Its the ambition of every parent in New Delhi to see their seemingly direction-less child gain fame and glory (and more importantly,money) when he/she enters its sacred gates.Everybody dreams of walking out onto the petty streets wearing the Stephanian sweatshirt like a coat-of-arms.

It took just a list for the reality to emerge.On this day,the 18th of June,in the year of our lord 2009,St Stephen's brought out its cut-off list for various bachelor's courses:

Now,this list immediately brings out a reaction akin to that of a bimbo's father when he sees the telephone bill.A gargantuan rise in percentages is what we find upon close examination.The reason that the college gives for this drastic action is that board results have been high in India and hence so should be the cut-off.Now,the layman will think:"well yeah makes sense because its the elite who make it to this college".Well layman,figure this:out of the total no of seats that applicants are battling with bloodshed for,50% are reserved for Christians (20% of these are for Christian Dalits while 40% of them are for Christians from North India) and 10% is reserved for SC/ST/OBC and physically challenged.The unfortunate percentage that were not baptized or born into caste-victimized families (or both) get just 40%.

THIS,my friends,is the situation of education in India.Its only for the 40% that this list is being released.This 40% is what makes up the 'elite' Stephanian crowd.Its the bunch of idiots who have studied without sleep for at least a month to be able to get a good education.It seems that the college wants them to lose some more sleep.A 95% is not a good enough percentage for them.The child who knows Chemistry for the science it is will lose his seat to the child who practically remembers every page number of a topic in his Chemistry book.

Education in India is dead.Mechanization is the new 'art'.Religious 'sentiments' are preferred over practical knowledge.If you're a Christian,you will find enough of your kind in the aforementioned 'prestigious' college.Who knows how many there will be.More importantly,best of luck in looking for one who actually knows his/her subject.And the saddest part is that people still stand for this.A rise in cut-offs will anger only those who did not get in,while others will be filled with the pride of getting the ultimate stamp of elitism.

The truth is,religion and social blasphemy have taken a very convenient shit on the face of education.Society is self-destructing due to its lack of practicality.And as Indians,the best we shall do is laugh it off with the 'this is India,my friend' statement.And then its back to our pitiful,religion and superstition-driven lives.

And this is just St Stephen's.Who knows what the rest of DU's lists will turn out to be.So kids,if you're looking for a good education in DU,follow these simple rules:

1. Get a fake identity made,preferably Christian or Dalit or both
2. Make sure you know insiders in the DU administration so that they can get you into the course you 'deserve'
3. Keep lots of money aside in case methods 1 and 2 fail
4. Be prepared to get chucked into a college full of lowlife scum because your 90% and above aggregate is too good for the high-society,religious bastards in the college of your choice.

I'm glad I escaped....

Monday, 8 June 2009

Another bass cover: Kreator-Servant in Heaven,King in Hell

I had to tune my bass guitar down to : D G C F for this. I'm quite jittery.Please refer to last video for reasons to that.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Khooni Murga by Workshop - Now THIS is the Great Indian Comedy Show

This is a review I've written primarily for Headbangers India. Here goes:

Have you ever worried that you are the only idiot who still wanks to screen nudity? Have you ever felt the sudden urge to pass stool at a very social gathering? Have you ever fantasized about that vixen in a ghaghra-choli? Have you ever been chased by a carnivorous, mutant poultry bird?

Have no fear, for you are not alone! Workshop presents, 'Khooni Murga', a showcase of all aspects of adolescence ranging from your 1st jerk-off session to nightmares about being disemboweled by the 'flightless bird from hell', and everything in between. All this has been specially wrapped into a tight package of memorable metal music and cheeky bouts of crooning. If you've ever felt outcast for finding a sexual innuendo in everything, then this album is your new best friend-in waiting.

Alright, enough sales talk. Down to business. This album marks a new pinnacle in Indian metal. Now, bands will not fight to be the most technical, or the most brutal or epic; please welcome the era of comedic metal, brought to you by The Demonstealer (Sahil Makhija-vocals,rhythm guitar), The Rijunator (Riju Dasgupta-bass), The Hamzoid (Hamza Kazi-drums) and The Rajbot (Rajarshi Bhattacharya-lead guitar). Think tight (and sometimes even brutal) metal music with the funniest of tunes and lyrics, and that very evenly sums up 'Khooni Murga'. The title is a wordplay of the title of a B-grade Hindi movie, and is basically a tribute to everything that an Indian can be ashamed of. The 1st song is 'She Folked Up My Jazz', a hard rock piece about lust being a jazz player's downfall. Its a very promising kick-off to an album, and like a typically good album opener, is a sign of even better things to come. 'Pudhe Sarka' (which is Marathi for 'aage khisakh') is a humble acknowledgment of a bad day without change on a BEST bus. Unlike the previous track, this one is blazing thrash metal track. Now, the next song as mentioned on the tracklisting, is 'Chati ke Saath Panga' but in reality it's been swapped with the succeeding track 'I Came'. 'I Came' is a song that EVERY male listener will relate to as it glorifies the 1st time a boy masturbates with tongue-in-cheek lyrics like 'Here I am with a loaded gun,it's pointed at you baby here I cum'. It also ends with the doomy line 'and I'm all out of sperm'. 'Chati ke Saath Panga' is a unique concept about a certain daaku Kamla Devi who has disturbingly large tits which she uses to terrorize people with. Instrumentally, this song has a very dark undertone and if it wasn't for the lyrics and vocal melody, it would be very at home on a Demonic Resurrection album.

The track to follow is the very 'colloquially' (for want of a better word) titled 'Garba Gandu' and as you might have guessed, is about a Gujju looking for pussy on a Garba night. The hallmark of this song is Hamza's ratta-ta-ta-ta snare that sounds like dandiya drumming. It ALSO has a very provocative Gujarati chorus section with BLAST BEATS! Next up is the very funky recipe 'How to Make a Demonic Omelet'. The title is quite self-explanatory so I will conveniently move on to the next track. 'Kothai Doro Cho' is a dig at a Bengali who feels the sinister urge to deposit what cannot be digested at a social gathering, and is running around looking for a place to do so. It has a very catchy yet heavy tremolo-picked hook and ends with a deadly E-major barrage that sounds like something off a Gojira album. The following track is the one that had made EVERY one clued in to India's metal scene to log on to YouTube and type 'bunty aur mallika sherawath'. Similar reactions were sparked by the next track 'Cookie Monster', a ballad about fighting a losing battle against sleep while chatting with a female e-pal/pussy hopeful. It has the distinction of being called 'cool' by none other than metal's master of innovation, Mathias Eklundh. The album then ends with the title track, one that has a very death metal sound to it and also has Sahil muttering 'A Darkness Descends'. Another publicity gimmick, and a pretty solid one at that.

All throughout this album can be found references to the penis, though not in an epic 'I'm the god-king with the longest and tightest rod' manner that Nile follow, but instead in a way very similar to what teenagers across the country refer to it as. The production is brilliant and so are the references to Demonic Resurrection. It also comes with a DVD containing over 2 hours of band footage, something that requires a separate review.

So, if you ever feel that your day is going bad, just pop in this CD and ensure a happy state of mind for the duration that it runs. Workshop claim no responsibility whatsoever for a return to a bad mood afterwards.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Bass-ic attempt

Here's me with a bass cover of Metallica's Master of Puppets.I'm pretty jittery,I know and that's because I've never taken lessons and have been plagued with all sorts of technical difficulties ever since I got my 1st bass around 3 years ago.I'd like to thank the Laney RB2 for being there...

The volume is a bit low so you'll need to fiddle with the volume knob on your speakers.Also,the light is low as well so those who are wondering,I play with m fingers and not a plectrum.

Monday, 4 May 2009

DLF IPL season 2:Double-take fest,anyone?

Well Lalit Modi is back.India's newly-found most awaited sporting event of the year makes a comeback,this time in the fastest emerging country for cricket locations,South Africa.The fact that its not being held in India makes little difference to me as I would have seen all the matches on TV either way.But getting down to the event itself,well its turning out to be as good as any Heroes episode,isn't it?

This time the IPL has had twists RIGHT from the start.The defending champions Rajasthan Royals led by the most-talked about captain of 2008 are now trying to sweep up a 'royal' mess;the Delhi Daredevils who provided at best a slightly-above average performance last year are now battling for top position;with none other than the team that finished last in the 1st season (and the one I chose to keep my faith in despite last year's paltry performance),the Deccan Chargers.But wait,its not over yet!The 1st edition's runners-up,the Chennai Super Kings,are now playing a tug of war for 4th position (at least) with probably the most bashed team of last year,the Royal Challengers Bangalore! Vijay Mallya,take a bow (and not a nervous swig).The Kings XI Punjab team continues with the form they were in last year,and the Mumbai Indians are putting up a much tougher resistance than last time.

So that covers all the tea....OH.Wait.I seem to have missed one out.Ah! Of course,its difficult to spot right at the bottom anyhow;the most glorified team of the IPL...King Khan's Kolkata Knight Riders.I always felt the advertising of this team was way too much,and now that has finally acted against them.The only time you will now see a happy member from that team would be during an advertisement.EVERYTHING has gone wrong for this team otherwise.From the controversial 4-captain theory,to Sourav Ganguly's dismal luck with Australian coaches and now,the Fake IPL Player blogger (chances are he's reading this himself).And that is just OFF the field predicaments.Last year's bat-brandishing knight from New Zealand Brendon McCullum now plays it easy by scoring a maximum of maybe 19,Chris Gayle believes in the Sehwag theory of '3 fours and a dismissal' and well,everyone else is happily dropping catches and batting at test match paces.The only ones putting up a fight are Bengal Tiger Sourav Ganguly and Aussie Brad Hodge.This team has almost certainly bagged last spot this season.

Another interesting thing about this year's IPL is how,despite it being called the 'young man's game' and all,its the classic veterans who are tearing the bowling apart.Matthew Hayden,Adam Gilchrist,Sanath Jayasuriya,Sachin Tendulkar,Jacques Kallis are people well in their late 30s but are playing like excited 15 year-olds.One just can't help smiling at their Viking spirit.Also surprising statisticians are the spinners.Sure,guys like Yusuf Abdulla,RP Singh and Lasith Malinga and 'firing it in the blockhole',but its been people like Pragyan Ojha,Anil Kumble,Shane Warne,Harbhajan Singh and even Suresh Raina who are actually turning out to be the partnership destroyers.

This season of the IPL has also seen the introduction of the Tactical Time Out,a 7.5 minute mandatory break after 10 overs for both teams to strategize and plan for the rest of the innings.Its a very fair decision of course,but its also a party pooper at times,being the main reason for the downfall of a set batting side on numerous occasions and the jinxed 16th over or the 'over of death.

I personally am enjoying this time of year as my exams are over,next 2 years are set and all I need to do is put on the TV and watch these matches.Shocking,dismaying,exciting, this is not the new Bond film,but the DLF IPL season 2.

With Oden on my side...

I'm writing after some time, ain't I? Well the reason for that is the that there have been a lot of things happening in my life lately.Good things mostly.I finished with a slave stick of a Bachelor's course in Physics on 29th April;and,more importantly,at a time when my other batch-mates will be running around looking for Masters courses to do,I'll be enjoying this summer (the near-Death Valley temperature is a mere occupational hazard now) as my last one in New Delhi.Yes everybody,I'm leaving.For Singapore.I had applied at just TWO places for a Masters,the other being Bangalore.I got through to Singapore (though not without episode,but more on that soon) and now I'm headed for a Master of Fine Arts in Animation and Digital Arts from Tisch School of the Arts Asia.

I'm not leaving just yet though,my session starts only on September 8th.And yes,the episode bit.Well,the application for this course was to be sent in the form of a creative portfolio by the turn of the year,along with transcripts of the UG course.I managed to send it all in time,though I had to keep making those mandatory 'Indian government office' trips to South Campus for a replacement marksheet (my 1st year marksheet had 'eaten itself up',so to speak).After I sent it all,it turns out that I had missed out my resume (DAMMIT!).After hurriedly sending that and giving their telephone interview, the college decided to extend their deadline for submissions to March 2nd (so maybe they could gleefully point and laugh at those people who were running around to submit their applications on time).A few days later,I get a letter telling me my status of admission.My hands trembled as I double-clicked the downloaded PDF.But the heartbeats almost hit a wall when I saw that I was wait-listed.But I came to terms with it (more so because I had obviously lost my chance at getting a large scholarship amount) and decided I was going to Bangalore after all.

Days passed.I got immersed in the only studying I had ever done the whole year-studying for the final exams.But on the day before my last paper,I got a call on the Airtel landline at home (the one that greets you with a mechanical "Airtel pesh karte hain..." almost with a 100% success rate per call).Expecting the usual,I decided to just press the 'speaker' button,listen to the 1st few microseconds of that recorded voice and cut the call.When I did press the speaker button,I wa greeted with a few moments of silence followed by a LIVE human voice,asking for me.I then picked up the receiver and to my trepidation,it was TISCH!They said they liked my portfolio and were willing to give me a second shot at this.I gladly accepted like a weary traveler accepting water.Few days later,I get a mail telling me I'm THROUGH,with an $8000 per year scholarship.The scholarship was by no means enough,and I was again prepared to resign to the fact that I was not going.But then my parents rose to the occasion and gave me ample support and now,I'm OFF!!!

This is going to be a new chapter of my life.A new era.I'll be studying and living with people from different countries and cultures,something I have never done.To say that I'm looking forward to this is just the beginning.But at the same time,I'll miss the time I had in New Delhi.The school days,the college days,the scraping through in the exams,the manipulation of my 3rd year project (Shhhh... ) and most importantly,my friends.I wouldn't have been who I am without them.Expect another post in a few months on them.


Thursday, 26 March 2009

My top 10 Metal albums of all time

So there was this topic on a Facebook discussion group with the same name (yeah well obviously 'my' was replaced by 'your') and it suddenly occured to me that I had hardly given any thought to such a question.So I did so,and this is what I came up with.Note that regardless of how much thought was given to it,the list is VERY volatile.I have also (at the request of one of my readers) provided links to torrents of each album (well some are complete discographies as I couldn't get singular album torrents,but if you can't operate a torrent client you shouldn't be downloading torrents right?).These links can be accessed by clicking the album names:

-Beneath the Remains: If there was ever to be an audio tribute to 'V for Vendetta',this album would be it. An album that start seemingly harmlessly (in a very ethnic Latino way) soon becomes a riot of fast,angry and precise riffs with anti-governmental lyrics growled out almost poetically.This album is everything that a good thrash metal album calls for,and more.Breakneck speed-sections that suddenly become so slow and melodic at times,you could be forgiven for believing that you've passed through a time vortex;scale changes that are perceptible yet donot take away the familiarity with a song and vocals that force the anger right down your throat,this album has it all.A record that I'm sure sent chills down German and American spines.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: Beneath the Remains,Inner Self,Hungry,Slaves of Pain, Stronger than Hate,Mass Hypnosis

9. SYMPHONY X-The Divine Wings of Tragedy: How this album did not affirm the band in question a higher rank than Dream Theater is what I don't understand.This album has the right ingredients for a masterpiece.An intangible sculpture of perfection.Fluid basslines that set a firm plinth for precise guitar-keyboard harmonies and unconventionally epic vocals, with Rullo's drums doing a tidy job with the mind-warping beats.An album that is truly progressive;unconventional time signatures and beat skips,constantly changing rhythms while keeping the epic pace going and at the same time not going overboard with it and at times just settling for the regular multiple of 4.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: Sea of Lies,The Accolade,The Eyes of Medusa,Out of the Ashes,Of Sins and Shadows

-Inhumanity: To be frank,I'm yet to hear a tighter debut.With freely-flowing,epic rhythms,backed by a marching percussion barrage and perfectly-toned harsh vocals,few can ignore the talent that these Finnish exports have. The keyboard work on this album is just phenomenal,knowing when to lie low and maintain a haunting atmosphere and when to pounce onto the guitar for a harmonic duel.This album is melody personified.A great debut signalling a sparkling future for melodic death metal.

FAVOURITE TRACKS:The Lust Called Knowledge,D.I.B,Another Creation,Last Apprentice,Eternity's Child,Inhumanity

7. ICED EARTH-Horror Show: Come on,an opera on the most famous villains in popular fiction and history and I miss it?Not a chance.Just sit back,but don't relax.The songwriting won;t let you.Each song's tune is crafted to perfection to match the villain in question,and the lyrics just work perfectly as a psycho-analysis of each character;the mid-Eastern vibe on 'Imhotep',the Satanic setting of 'Damien' and the disturbing feel to 'Jack' are a few of the masterworks.To top it all,the Iron Maiden cover (Transylvania) just fits like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle.This is one show which will keep playing you an encore whenever you want.

FAVOURITE TRACKS:Damien,Ghost of Freedom,Jack,Imhotep,The Phantom Opera Ghost

6. KAMELOT-The Black Halo: Allow me to say this:Roy Khan has the best voice in power metal today. This album bears testimony to that.And also to Thomas Youngblood's shredding prowess.'The Black Halo' is a continuation to the modern day rendition of 'Faust' that Kamelot started with 'Epica' and let me say that even though I've never read 'Faust',I can feel a story in motion when I listen to this album.Kamelot have the gift of storytelling.They know when to speed things up and when to canter,they know when to blaze with riffs and when to cool things down.The symphonic keyboard playing gives a film score vibe to this album.If you haven't heard it yet,begin your hunt now.

FAVOURITE TRACKS:When the Lights are Down,The Haunting,Moonlight,Soul Society,March of Mephisto,This Pain

-Silence: Sonata Arctica have always had me respecting them for very boldly following a romantic path in metal.AND being successful at it.This album is a replication and a celebration of life.It stands for freedom,pain,happiness,loneliness,deception and of course love,amongst others.It has the quintessential power metal ingredients namely blazing guitars,harmonic keyboards and soaring vocals.But it also has a certain uniqueness to it as well.Vocalist Tony Kakko does the right pitch shifts,the rhythm sections change to change the mood and the keyboards just dance so perfectly around everything.Every song has a very prominent message to it.Overall,this album is just THERAPY.

FAVOURITE TRACKS:Wolf and Raven,The End of this Chapter,Black Sheep,Sing in Silence,San Sebastian (Revisited),The Power of One

-Follow the Reaper: Ah,who doesn't know this album.This lovely monstrosity of musical prowess.This perfect combination of melody and brutality,mixed to create a homogeneous,epic product.This album sees the best of Bodom's talent till date;Alexi Laiho vocals have the perfect tones and shifts that only rival his virtuosic ability with the guitar,Janne Warmen's keyboard teasingly flitting in and out of the guitar melodies,Alexander Kuoppala and Henkka's solid rhythm backing and Jaska's tight drumming.One can only utter good things about the band after he's ventured in and out of it.Sadly,the band turned to a mainstream and simplistic songwriting style with 'Are You Dead Yet?',but this album can at least re-kindle hopes of a return.

FAVORITE TRACKS:Every Time I Die,Children of Decadence,Kissing the Shadows,Mask of Sanity,Follow the Reaper

-11 Dreams: This album is an attack on the senses.Mercenary managed to pleasantly shock audiences with their triple vocal styled melodic death metal.Drawing a heavy influence from power metal as well,these guys just wake you up to reality.Their songwriting involves crushing rhythms juxtaposed with haunting keyboard riffs and catchy drum beats thanks to Mike Park's innovative bass drum playing style.Their lyrics largely explore human thought processes and lets just say that they do a darn good job with it.A relatively underrated band but one that is HIGHLY talented.

FAVOURITE TRACKS: World Hate Center,Firesoul,11 Dreams,Supremacy v2.0,Loneliness,Times Without Changes

-Somewhere in Time: This band needs no introduction.Nor does this album.Its a very epic yet very modern album at the same time.Lyrics that are the stuff of poetry,rhythms and leads that are the stuff of legends and percussion that is still difficult to replicate,the magic that this album weaves needs no introduction.UP THE IRONS!!!

FAVOURITE TRACKS:Caught Somewhere In Time,Wasted Years,Heaven Can Wait,Stranger in a Strange Land,Deja Vu

-Ride the Lightning: I don't know how long the other albums will last on my top 10 list,but I can safely say that this album will ALWAYS occupy #1 spot.This album's sheer songwriting magnitude just astounds you.In a time when a 2/2 beat and a tremolo pick were enough to garner legendary status for a thrash metal album,Metallica pushed the envelope by playing varied beat speeds,more progressive riffs and having an overall almost classical feel to their music.This album is full of memorable riffs,catchy vocal hooks and of course the virtuosic bass playing of late Cliff Burton.If you haven't heard this album yet,that's shameful.

FAVOURITE TRACKS:Fight Fire With Fire,Ride the Lightning,For Whom the Bell Tolls,Fade to Black,Creeping Death,Escape,The Call of Ktulu.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

One with the Force...

Today may have been Holi and though I don't celebrate it anyway, this time there was more reason to not do so. My dadi (paternal grandmother) has passed away. She was in ICU for 20 days when she finally got liberated for eternity at 3:00 AM. She had suffered multiple femur fractures and since she was 82 years old and her bones were highly weakened by osteoporosis, the doctors had already warned us that it will cause further complications. Sure enough, that's what happened and her body finally gave in today.

The mood was grim at home but hardly a tear was shed. Everyone secretly heaved a sigh of relief that my dadi's suffering had ended. I myself was not weakened by emotion. Right from when my mom woke me up to break the news to me, to the time her body was slid into the electric crematorium. It was saddening of course, but rather than make me cry, memories of my dadi will always bring a smile to my face.

My dadi was a typical warrior-hearted Punjabi lady. Till the time she was admitted into the ICU, she felt no pain. Even when the doctor was squeezing her thigh and asking her if she feels pain she replied "No there's no pain.Now give me my chappals and lets go home". She would then be lying in her ward bed with her leg suspended and put in a cast and sh would ask why the hell she was lying like that. When told she has a fracture she would refuse it outright!!!

Her bones weakened for the sole reason that she stopped exercising and kept eating. She became quite fat and was basically bed-ridden for the remainder of her years. But that did not stop her from waging war intermittently! She would give hell to my maids for getting her food late (she kept changing the time in her wristwatch), for not switching the TV on even though there was no electricity, for not letting her eat all those potato chips that would all exit her body in the most unfavourable way and for many other things. She would keep them awake all night with her Sai bhajans and she would wear sweaters and sleep with a quilt in the months of August-November. She would shed crocodile tears each time my parents spoke to her about talking rudely to the maids. And yet, every time I went upstairs to meet her she would smile the most radiant of smiles at me, asking me time and again whether all was fine with me and how she hated Physics.

When I was younger she would tell Ishika and me stories about her convent days and how mischievous she was. Once she even got into trouble when a drunk British soldier expressed his love for her from the streets as she looked out the window.

Like I said, till the very end she went down living life to the fullest. And to this indomitable spirit, I raise a salute.

May the Force be with my dadi.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Song titles quiz

Here's a quiz I came across on Facebook:

Think of an artiste and answer the following questions using ONLY their song titles.I choose my all-time favourites,Metallica.Here goes:

1. Are you a male or female: The God that Failed

2. Describe yourself: The Thing that Should Not Be

3. How do you feel about yourself: No Remorse

4. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriend: Ain't My Bitch

5. Describe your current boy/girl situation: Hit the Lights

6. Describe your current location: Trapped Under Ice

7. Describe where you want to be: The House that Jack Built

8. Your best friend is: My Friend of Misery

9. Your favorite color is: Blackened

10. You know that: Battery

11. What’s the weather like: Sad But True

12. If your life was a television show what would it be called: The Struggle Within

13. What is life to you: Eye of the Beholder

14. What is the best advice you have to give: Fight Fire with Fire

15. If you could change your name what would you change it to: Master of Puppets

Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Drapery Finally Falls on India

Around 2 years ago, metal-thirsty people in India would be complaining about the complete lack of international metal shows in their country. Now, 2 years later India has already played host to big guns like Iron Maiden (who are returning for the 3rd time this year), Megadeth, Sepultura and Ensiferum and also to numerous lesser known bands like Enslaved, Anterior, Detonation and Sahg. NOW, IIT Chennai has been gracious enough to add another feather to the already birdlike cap by roping in progressive metal goliaths Opeth.

As far as I am concerned, I was facing a dilemma between Iron Maiden and Opeth (due to limited funding from the parents). But I decided to go for Opeth regardless of how I was getting another shot at the ‘Somewhere Back in Time’ tour. Needless to say, it was well worth it. I went with 2 of my friends (and my mom’s Nokia 6300 because the 1112 model does not have a camera) and we stayed at one of my friends’ cousin’s house. But as soon as our chug-chug rolled into Chennai Central station on the 24th of Jan…tragedy!!!! I landed RIGHT on my ankle from losing balance while de-boarding. Sprain!!! I was almost ready to cry. Not because it hurt, but because I might miss the show. But some hot water and crepe bandage and painkiller took care of it so no worries there. We reached IIT the next day and what we noticed first and foremost was the TOTAL lack of ANY signs that a band called Opeth were playing. But that was OK, because good friend Alok Meshram informed us of the location for the autograph session. We got there in the total dictionary definition of ‘nick of time’ as Opeth strode into the auditorium. A long hour and lots of traditional Madrasi vigilance (from the volunteers) later, my turn came. I was TREMBLING because I had with me an incomplete sketch of Mikael Akerfeldt that I wanted signed. First up was guitarist Fredrik Akesson at the table. Drummer Martin Axenrot signed next and then the sketch went to the man himself, vocalist/guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt. The conversation was such:

Mikael: You made this? Yourself ?

Me: Yeah,but its incomplete…

Mikael: Its awesome.

The delight on my face was more than just palpable I’m sure. I then got it signed by bassist Martin Mendez and keyboardist Per Wiberg who I also shook hands with and then went WHOOPING out of there.

We were thirsty by then and that led us to reaching an already huge line for the Open Air Theater 15 minutes later than we could have reached. What resulted was an hour’s wait before the line started moving and the slow progress ensured that I got to just HEAR Demonic Resurrection from outside. FUCK Madrasi vigilance!!!!! Next up were veteran prog-rockers Motherjane from Cochin who came on stage with half their faces painted in Kathakali face paint!!!! Vocalist Suraj went on to explain how that was because they believed every person is half body, half spirit and music brings alive the spirit in you. I really appreciate how these guys have sautéed progressive rock/metal with Carnatic music. They played a longer set than required which led me to speculate whether DR, an extreme metal band had been asked to play a really short set (just 4 songs).

The time period that followed is the most anticipation-charged one at any international band gig, waiting for the headliners. There were cheers at every note played by the guitar techies and every beat from the drum techie. One awesome sight that I beheld when I turned back (I was around 4 rows from the stage) was a huge array of cellphone lights that shone like fireflies against the dark night. One of the reasons why the Chennai crowd is SO much better than the New Delhi one. But more on that later. It was time. The familiar thundering sound at the end of ‘Coil’ (from the new album ‘Watershed’) that signals the start of the epic ‘Heir Apparent’ now got everyone fighting their shivers with raging screams of ‘OPETH! OPETH!’. And slowly, they walked in, taking their respective positions and then as one huge monster played the 1st chord of the song. It had begun. The crowd already started agitating for the mosh but then decided its better to stand and listen because they’ll get few such opportunities. And the song was played FLAWLESSLY with Akerfeldt dishing out an amazing vocal performance (though the stage sound was a but problematic at first). I took it all in; the doomy chords, the furious double bass and the death growls. After they finished with ‘Heir Apparent’,the band corrected their monitors and then played a song that I was SURE they would play in the middle of their set but drove all over us right then which is the eclectic ‘The Grand Conjuration’. It just sounded so much SPOOKIER and grander in real life, especially the verse riff! And usually vocalists struggle to replicate their studio effort live, but it seemed like a total walk in the park for Mikael Akerfeldt. After they finished, Akerfeldt 1st interaction with the crowd turned out to be a bid for the people in front to move back and not stifle the ones in the 1st row!!!! Hahaha!!! Madrasi vigilance snares a big one!!! After which Akerfeldt waved a sheepish ‘hello’ to the crowd and then the band went on to play ‘Godhead’s Lament’ from ‘Still Life’. The entire setlist was OFICIALLY their longest EVER played (more than 2 and a half hours) and was such:

  1. Heir Apparent (from ‘Watershed’)
  2. The Grand Conjuration (from ‘Ghost Reveries’)
  3. Godhead’s Lament (from ‘Still Life’)
  4. Wreath (from ‘Deliverance’)
  5. Hope Leaves (from ‘Damnation’)
  6. The Lotus Eater (from ‘Watershed’)
  7. Bleak (from ‘Blackwater Park’)
  8. The Night and the Silent Water (from ‘Morningrise’)
  9. Deliverance (from ‘Deliverance’)
  10. Demon of the Fall (from ‘My Arms, Your Hearse’)

As encore:

  1. The Baying of the Hounds (from ‘Ghost Reveries’)
  2. The Drapery Falls (from ‘Blackwater Park’)

Throughout the show Akerfeldt kept up a constant banter with the crowd. He is a hilarious man onstage and unlike most metal vocalists who are trying to create a mean and imposing persona, he is quite the joker. Some snippets:

After ‘Godhead’s Lament’:

“We’ve been having quite a good time in India. We saw a few temples, which were quite fascinating. We’ve been eating a lot. Our keyboard player Per Wiberg got bitten by a spider. Mendez had sex with a monkey. What was I doing? I was watching Mendez have sex with the monkey”

After ‘Bleak’:

“ Martin is throwing a tantrum. He says he has a blister on his hand. Mama”

But being the corporate shithole that India is, the sponsors Nokia HAD to play spoiltsport. After ‘Demon of the Fall’, the band went off stage pretending their show was over. Enter stage-invading Nokia compère. The idiot said he could bring Opeth back if the crowd repeated ‘Touch Opeth. Feel Opeth. Play Opeth’. Homo. And then to top it all, he called Akerfeldt onstage to talk about the new Nokia . Here’s what Akerfeldt said:

“Well phones are obviously good but heavy metal is way better. Wait, my wife is calling. Hello? Are you naked? I should play more songs? OK”

After which they played their last 2 songs. It may seem funny now,but go read Akerfeldt’s Myspace blog and read all the abusing he’s done to Nokia India. He clearly HATED all of it.

About the Chennai crowd? Well it was amazing attending a show with them because EVERYONE knew their music (add to that some Bangaloreans and its almost a Wacken-like atmosphere). Unlike the Delhites who use metal shows as an excuse for unrelenting violence. Wannabes. They’ll mosh to anything (even The Superfuzz). So if you’re from Chennai or Bangalore reading this, THANK YOU!!!!

And so I sit here, content with my fill of Opeth, writing this review. If you didn’t go there, you missed possibly the GRANDEST conjuration India has ever seen.


Sunday, 18 January 2009

Blog Renovation

You would have noticed a slight change in the banner of my blog.Well it's part of a custom template that I'm working on.Since my exams are over,I now have some time to do so.I just hope the actual template does justice to my imagination.