Of course all of the above would not have been possible if it weren’t for the popularity and awareness drive started by THE PIT, a group of local metal bands and metal music lovers who have, for the past few years, been working their socks off to make Kolkata a better place for heavy metal. The journey is still nowhere near it’s final destination, but the fruits of their hard-work is there for all to see – more bands trying their hand at this genre and a steady increase in the metal-listening masses. The previous 4 PITs held in the last 2 years have been instrumental in allowing both young and experienced bands to showcase their music to the metal-loving community of the city. And this string of metal music fests also helped to bring the metal community under one roof – kind of like a metal-heads get-together party.
The last PIT had been held on the 20th of October, 2010, with a turnout of 850 crazy metalheads. But this time the PIT committee was aiming for an even larger audience, something in the region of 1000-1200. And rightly so since tickets were selling like hotcakes the moment the date for the “PIT v.5 – Rising Fists” was announced. The PIT working committee had even managed to get hold of sponsors for the event – LIZARD SKIN TATTOOS and VIBRATIONS: THE MUSIC STORE – a 1st for any sort of heavy metal event in the city. There was a huge buzz around town and this even spread to other neighboring regions in West Bengal and other parts of the country.
The PIT v.5 – THE RISING FISTS. The theme for this PIT, “Rising Fists” emphasized on how us local metal-heads would not bow down and be controlled by the rest of the city’s music circuit just because our musical genre of choice was not on top of the popularity charts. In fact “Rising Fists” was a call to all metal-heads to protest and fight for their rights to listen to metal, and to stand together as one with raised fists. Did we sound like revolutionaries? You bet we did! But it was also very obvious that this protest would only be a success if the city’s metal brethren responded to our call to arms – to come and be a part of THE PIT v.5 – RISING FISTS.
And on the 19th of April 2011, we were not disappointed. The metal community of Kolkata heard our call to arms and they responded in droves! The scheduled start time for the PIT v.5 was 12 noon, but by 10 AM the venue, Tapan Theatre, was surrounded by excited, expectant and enthusiastic metal-heads. And a quiet neighbourhood in the Chetla area of South Kolkata had turned into a massive sea of black-tee wearing metal maniacs!
A word about the bands – this PIT had 8 bands on the roster and the line-up was a combination of both young and experienced. 2 bands, DARK RITUALZ and BURNOUT SYNDROME, had been selected through a rigorous audition round, while 2 Kolkata veterans, SINFUL OATH and NOYZE AKADEMI, were making come-backs @ the PIT with new line-ups. Also in the list of performers was WHAT ESCAPES ME, the young pretenders to the Kolkata metal throne. And to top it off were the current 3 heavyweights of the city’s metal scene: EVIL CONSCIENCE, CHRONIC XORN and YONSAMPLE. The crowd certainly had a lot to look forward to.
DARK RITUALZ was the opening band for PIT v.5. The crowd was still settling down when they went up on stage but this did not deter the young band, as they belted out a set-list which comprised of 4 originals and 2 Lamb Of God covers. For most people in the crowd, this was their 1st taste of DARK RITUALZ’ brand of music, and they certainly were not disappointed.
The comeback kids NOYZE AKADEMI were the next band on stage. This band was one of the founding members of the PIT committee and they had had a short but successful stint before their initial break-up, their RSJ pub-rock performance 3 years back being a definitive highlight. This new avatar of the band had only one original member left, plus there were rumours about the band experimenting with a new death-core sound. Well all questions were answered and emphatically so. NOYZE AKADEMI blew the crowd away with their short power-packed stint on stage – 4 OCs and 1 cover (Impending Doom) – the crowd did not know what had hit them! The moshing had truly started by now and even an impromptu wall-of-death followed suit. And so was time for the 3rd band to perform…
BURNOUT SYNDROME! This band, although fairly new, were playing their 2nd PIT (having also featured at PIT v.4) – the crowd knew them and so they had no problem warming up to the band, especially after the performance of their set-list which included a mix of originals and covers by bands like Threat Signal and Veil Of Maya. The performance of their OC “Tormented Psychopath” was the stand-out in their set-list. It was also interesting to see that the OCs of BURNOUT SYNDROME had a distinct djent texture to them, and it looks like they are gradually making a shift from their metal-core roots, an interesting approach indeed!
The day’s second band on the comeback trail, SINFUL OATH, was the PIT’s 4th band on stage. Although being regulars at each PIT version, SINFUL OATH had been inactive in the Kolkata metal circuit for a very long time. A string of line-up changes had led to the band introducing a practically new and unknown line-up apart from 2 previous members. And although their set-list was short (comprising of 4 covers and 1 instrumental), a bout of nerves did take a toll on the newer members. But they did manage to recover their poise and delivered a solid performance, much to appreciation of the audience.
Half of the bands on the list had played their part for the PIT – but the 2nd half had much more to offer because it was time for the city’s heavyweights to get into action. And even now the crowd was still pouring in, with a steady stream of school/college/office goers arriving at the venue after a long day of drudgery.
EVIL CONSCIENCE was band number #5 and they rammed the crowd into a brutal submission with their set-list of originals and metal covers. The band played a total of 7 songs – 4 originals and 3 covers, and the brutality of their musical assault left the crowd feeling like they had been smashed with a sledgehammer. Especially so, when they played their popular original “Your God Is Burning”. The moshpit by this time had become a war-zone, which suited the band just fine. EVIL CONSCIENCE’s performance left the crowd drained and drenched in sweat and blood and but the audience had absolutely no time for respite! Because following this deadly assault were…
CHRONIC XORN! After the very successful release of their EP “Death.Destruction.Sermon”, the popularity of this Kolkata band had increased by leaps and bounds, which was evident from the amount of cheering and sing-a-longs to their songs. The metal-heads in the front row were now indulging themselves in a hefty bout of stage diving and crowd-surfing, and the band loved it! Each song performed by CHRONIC XORN was met by a huge round of applause and their vocalist literally had the crowd eating out of his hands! For the record, CHRONIC XORN performed all the songs from their EP as well as a new single “Bleeding” and a re-worked version of an older single “Valentine Of Nightmares”. And as always, the band ended their set with a Lamb Of God cover (on public demand!) – “Black Label”, which got the crowd wild!!!
PIT v.5 was fast approaching it’s end – but not before YONSAMPLE got their chance to blast the crowd! The current darlings of the Indian metal scene, YONSAMPLE has been getting rave reviews for their newly released debut EP “Paraphernalia”. The band kept it simple by performing their entire EP for the head-banging audience, which did not disappoint them at all! And when Yonsample performed their crowd favourite “Breaking Through”, 1000+ voices broke into song, singing each and every line of chorus, much to the amazement and also to the immense satisfaction of the band. It was a breath-taking moment indeed and one of the highlights of the entire PIT v.5.
Closing out PIT v.5 was WHAT ESCAPES ME, a young band which had been sweeping, left and right, 1st prize at most college band competitions this season in the eastern region of the country, including top honours at the IIT Kharagpur fest. Unfortunately due to time constraints and due to the un-cooperative venue management, their set-list had to be cut short to just 3 songs – 2 originals and a cover – which was extremely disappointing for both band and metal-head alike. But for all those who were witnessing WHAT ESCAPES ME for the first time, they did get a taste of their sound and also a listen to their most popular OC, “Section 66 Part 5” – a song which has already become a metal anthem in the Kolkata circuit in these last few months.
And so the curtains fell on another PIT - another glorious day of metal in the City Of Joy had come to an end, leaving everyone in attendance totally wasted, completely exhausted BUT extremely happy. Rightly so too, because the crowd response was beyond belief – and what a response it was! At last count there were approximately 1500 metal-lovers in attendance, not only from Kolkata, but from other parts of West Bengal. In fact metal-heads as far off as Chennai and Sri Lanka had come down to be a part of the PIT. Totally unprecedented in the short history of Kolkata metal!
I guess this is a positive sign and proof that the Kolkata metal scene is alive and kicking, and that the metal-heads of the city are willing to stand up and be heard. The future of metal in Kolkata indeed seems to be bright, all thanks to the success of the PIT. But there is a lot more to be done and scope for improvement is always there. So people, look out for THE PIT v.6 – and for an even better and more brutal show of hands from the Kolkata metal community!