Sunday, February 19, 2012



The Devil's Orchard (HERITAGE)
I Feel the Dark (HERITAGE)
Face of Melinda (STILL LIFE)
Slither (HERITAGE)
To Rid the Disease (DAMNATION)
Folklore (HERITAGE)
Heir Apparent (WATERSHED)
The Baying Of The Hounds (GHOST REVERIES)
The Drapery Falls (BLACKWATER PARK)
Deliverance (DELIVERANCE)

METALLICA’s tour of India last year was supposed to be the high-point of heavy metal in India. And looking back at the event, well it probably was – 3 days of drama and emotional atyachar… cancellation of the 1st leg @ Delhi… cancellation rumors spreading like wild-fire about the Bangalore gig… Rock In India, Bangalore finally getting the green signal… the biggest turnout ever for any metal event organized in this country with people pouring in from all over the country (and even abroad) into Bangalore… a massive ocean of black-tee shirts enveloping the Palace Grounds… the non-stop rain... The Gods of Metal finally playing their 1st ever gig on Indian soil… a kick-ass and unforgettable performance… after-show head-aches with people losing their bags and getting electrocuted by live wires while leaving the event premises… the non-stop traffic snarls and confusion all round.
In one word Metallica was total CHAOS. The gig was fun but everything else associated with it was NOT. ROCK IN INDIA 2011 was easily the worst organized rock festival in Indian history.

3 months gone, and I find myself back in Bangalore, with my bag of mixed memories, to attend SUMMER STORM II – which, funnily enough, is being held during the fag end of the winter months! But then again, February in Bangalore isn’t particularly winterish, and the day-time temperatures certainly do feel like summer!

The weather isn’t the only difference I notice this time in Bangalore. Back in October, every 3rd person on the street was sporting a METALLICA tee. Yes obviously SUMMER STORM II headliners OPETH aren’t as popular or as mainstream as METALLICA, but they are definitely one of the best metal bands around, and certainly one of the top-draws from Scandinavia. The usual haunts @ MG Road, Brigade Road and Korumangala seemed practically deserted in comparison to that October week-end – Bangalore was the picture of a peaceful week-end with a typical week-end crowd hustling and bustling along, and not a single sign could I see that gave me even a hint that Bangalore was about to play host to yet another top-notch metal event. It was quite an unnerving feeling, and I had to pinch myself a couple of times to remind that I wasn’t locked up in a Phantom Zone… OPETH would indeed be up on the SUMMER STORM II stage in a couple of hours.

And so on to the venue. And again I delve into another round of comparisons, since I was constantly reminded of my experiences back in October… and unlike in October our band of merry men from Kolkata had no problem finding a parking space for our hired cab. No mad rush of people @ Palace Grounds… no ocean of black tees, just a sea – and a calm tranquil sea at that. No pushing-and-shoving at the ticket counter while collecting my pre-paid passes (the guy at the counter was quite polite actually!). And finally, no gigantic snake of a queue at the entry gates.

Yes yes, SUMMER STORM II is NOT an event on the scale of ROCK IN INDIA 2011, I know that. But my point is that the non-chaos and non-confusion at the venue was such a welcome change, it almost felt like I was attending a picnic! It took me totally by surprise. OVERTURE INDIA, the organizers of SUMMER STORM, you guys deserve a prize – attending metal gigs this well organized makes it worth spending all that dough flying down from Kolkata and parking myself in Bangalore on such regular basis!

In keeping with the smoothness of things @ SUMMER STORM II actually started ON TIME at approximately 4 PM – another huge welcome change. The 1st band up on stage was local thrash metal outfit THEORIZED. This was my 1st time seeing them live, and they did not disappoint. The band played a couple of songs from their debut EP “FALSE HOPE OF TYRANNY” – “DARK INCARNATION” and “RAISE THE DEAD”, as well as a bunch of new originals. THEORIZED was impressive indeed, a good selection for an opening act.
Another Bangalore band, progressive metal act ECCENTRIC PENDULUM was up next. One of my favorite Indian metal bands in the current national circuit, ECCENTRIC PENDULUM lost no time in chugging out numbers from their critically acclaimed debut album “WINDING THE OPTICS”. Although they seemed to be playing sans a guitarist, the band was in full form and wowed the crowd with their thrashy riffs accentuated by catchy progressions and melodies. The crowd loved them, and it was good fun seeing them live again after more than a year.
So with the Indian band slots done and dusted, SUMMER STORM II (unlike in the previous LAMB OF GOD version) had something new for the crowd – 2 international acts on their “opening band” roster, the 1st one being NOTHNEGAL from the sunny island nation of Maldives.
WHAT??? Maldives??? A metal band from the Maldives???

Yes I kid you not. And that too, a band with a very impressive line-up that included keyboardist MARKO SNECK (current member of KALMAH) and drummer KEVIN TALLEY (ex-DYING FETUS, ex-CHIMAIRA and current drummer for SIX FEET UNDER and DAATH).

NOTHNEGAL’s performance was interesting. Not ever having heard of the band before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. They played a decent set-list of originals which I am assuming were from their album “DECADENCE”. Their melodic death sound did have quite a few admirers in the crowd, but for the most part this was when we could see people checking out merchandise at the stalls and filling their tummies with refreshments.

To be fair, NOTHNEGAL weren’t bad at all. And I particularly enjoyed the synth sections in their originals. And definitely if I had to choose between a BIFFY CLYRO and a NOTHNEGAL, I would choose the latter any day!
The 2nd international “opening” act was Germany’s celtic metal band SUIDAKRA. And they had the Bangalore crowd’s full attention the very minute they opened proceedings with a bagpipe solo. SUIDAKRA gave a gem of a performance and captivated the audience with their highly infectious, energetic and upbeat folk and celtic metal originals covering most of their albums, including “WARTUNES”, “DOWTH2059” and “The IXTH LEGION”.

And so to main attraction for the evening.

Slightly past 8 PM, MIKAEL ÅKERFELDT and co. stormed the stages of SUMMER STORM II and started proceedings with 2 tracks back-to-back from their latest album ”HERITAGE” – “THE DEVIL'S ORCHARD” and “I FEEL THE DARK”. And so began another metal journey at the Palace Grounds.
The biggest fear of the crowd was that OPETH would play a set-list comprising totally of songs from “HERITAGE”. But to the delight of everyone present, MIKAEL promised that they would be covering songs from their previous offerings as well – and with this promise they jumped into the mesmerizing intro of “FACE OF MELINDA” from the album “STILL LIFE”. This was followed by the brilliant “CREDENCE” from the “MY ARMS, YOUR HEARSE” album. “TO RID THE DISEASE” from the album “DAMNATION” was the next song on offer, and the haunting melodic mood created by their newest member, keyboardist JOAKIM SVALBERG totally bowled over the crowd.

We were having the time of their life for sure, and so too was OPETH. And if the music was not enough, MIKAEL had the crowd in splits with his stand-up comedian avatar – constantly rollicking bassist MARTIN MENDEZ about one thing or the other. And in-between songs whenever he noticed a lack of energy amongst the crowd, he would encourage them to shout “F**k You, Mikael!” back at him. Entertainment to the core!

The songs were coming in thick and fast now – another 2 songs from “HERITAGE” – “SLITHER” and “FOLKLORE” were dished out to the crowd. But once done, MIKAEL promptly announced that the 2nd half of their set-list would consist of their heavier tunes from their death metal days. The crowd’s huge roar of approval was enough for them to launch into “HEIR APPARENT” from “WATERSHED”. For those restless kids up front, their prayers were finally answered and it was time for them to go into a moshing frenzy.

The next song played was “THE BAYING OF THE HOUNDS” from their ever-popular album “GHOST REVERIES”, and the head-banging was well and truly on!

The one OPETH album that gets me going the most is “BLACKWATER PARK” – and I was well and truly in 7th heaven when the next song performed by the band was from this very album – “THE DRAPERY FALLS”. And it looked like my feelings were shared by most of the crowd, seeing as The Palace Grounds erupted into a huge sing-along during the performance of this song – this was definitely one of the high-point of the entire concert.

All good things must come to an end – and so with the encore “DELIVERANCE” (from the album of the same name) OPETH brought the curtains down on a most wonderful performance. The song was indeed a fitting finale to a set-list that did not disappoint the OPETH faithful who were extremely delighted that the band covered songs from almost all their albums. And so with the outro of “DELIVERANCE” fading in the background, SUMMER STORM II came to an end. It was an event that lived up to most everyone’s expectations – and there were very few grousers who left the venue that evening.

On a personal note, seeing OPETH live allowed me to tick another item from my bucket-list. If international bands of such caliber continue to keep on visiting our country with such frequency, then I should be done with my bucket-list pretty soon me thinks!

From an event management point of view the organizers were spot-on, and apart from a few sound glitches, SUMMER STORM II, for me, was easily one of the most enjoyable concert-going experiences I have had these past few years. Which leaves me to end this review in a most clichéd manner: “Here’s looking forward to SUMMER STORM III!” – clichéd or not, if OVERTURE INDIA continues to organize similar such metal events then DNA and ROCK IN INDIA would be a thing of the past. Something I wouldn’t mind at all.

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