Sunday, March 25, 2012


There are 2 rules on planet Earth that the cycle of life can never break:

·         RULE 1: Anything which begins will eventually come to an end

·         RULE 2: What goes around, comes around


The above definitely holds true in Kolkata’s western popular music circuit. The previous decade had seen a surge in the number of rock and alternative bands from Kolkata making a mark on both the local and national circuit. Bands like Cassini’s Division, The Supersonics, Span, Five Little Indians, Skinny Alley and Pink Noize were names well respected in the Indian Rock scene and their fan-following crossed the limits of the West Bengal border.

This was a time too when heavy metal started raising it’s voice in Kolkata – and riding the wave of this new public acceptance for music that was “underground” and “different”, heavy metal musicians/bands started coming out into the open. And although they never quite managed to get an adequate share of the goodies on offer by the head honchos of the Kolkata rock music scene (i.e. pub owners, event managers, record labels, etc.), yet the heavy metal musician somehow managed to survive and improve his/her quality of life. Kolkata’s very own “THE PIT” – a group of local bred metal aficionados comprising of musicians, students and yuppies – were instrumental in helping the local metal band to fight it out with bands/musicians of other genres to get a share of the proverbial “pie”. Of course this genre of music being what it is, heavy metal across the country (and even internationally) has always needed to carve out its own path for survival, not being overly dependent upon the mainstream rules and norms.

In these last few years it had been extremely heartening to see the rapid development of bands from the city. Bands like Chronic Xorn and Yonsample were going national with well-received EPs, and young musicians from school/college were eager to translate their love for metal into music of their own – the growth of metal in the city had never been more promising.

Providing a performance platform to young musicians is essential for their development, and apart from THE PIT, many other new independent entities too were doing the same for these young heavy metal bands. There were Open Mic sessions too that were eager to host musicians across all genres – and each such Open Mic would see the “birth” of a minimum of 2-3 new local metal bands.

Metal in Kolkata was indeed “happening” by the look of things.

And then, suddenly, we saw change.

Or maybe it wasn’t that sudden after all – the signs were there. The demise of the alternative band. The hibernation (for lack of a better phrase) of some of the top bands of the city. Young bands with huge promise (Gravy Theory, Safire, Weaponshop and The Cynical Recess are names that come to mind) suddenly deciding to just stop being in a band or went into long spells of inactivity… all these happened at more-or-less the same time. Was it coincidence? Was it due to external socio-economic causes that were uncontrollable factors?


Well, while this might be a most interesting topic for debate, we will leave it for later.

What IS true and undeniable, though, is that with the advent of RULE 1 (mentioned above) for alternative music, the “band” concept in Kolkata took a beating. From their ashes, RULE 2 went into motion – a mini revival started to take place where musicians started to go solo or play in groups of 2-3: the singer-songwriter (ala Bob Dyanesque mode).

This trend has gotten even stronger and the number of solo amateur artistes in the city has increased exponentially. Jazz, blues, latin and fusion bands/musicians have also benefited from the “no-show” of rock/alternative bands these days. And so, if variety is your watch-word then Kolkata is it’s epicenter


The above however has also had a direct impact on the availability of opportunities (or lack of them) for the city’s rock/alternative bands. Gig opportunities at established venues in the city have slowly started to dry up for them. And this has hurt, in a big way, the heavy metal band too, both young and established.   


2011 started off brightly for the Kolkata metal lover and musician. But as the year plodded along it slowly became evident that “progress” had come to almost a grinding halt. A lack of paid gigs for established bands and a lack of a platform to perform for the young bands, etc. were most evident as 2011 plodded along


It is during these most trying times that THE PIT had decided to come together and host the 6th version of their annual event – and try and pull the socks up for the metal scene in general.


People wrongly assume that with fame and name, comes a proportional financial inflow. This concept does not apply to The Pit, which has always been about promotion of heavy metal as a genre in Kolkata and most definitely NOT about financial gains. However, despite having organized 5 successful metal events, this group was finding it difficult to go to the next level – i.e. go national. And to complicate matters even further, rising costs, the search for a new venue within their budget and a lack of funds were challenges that were leaving The Pit crew with sleepless nights.


It is unfortunate that The Pit v.6 did not achieve their main objective of spreading their wings into the national metal circuit – however a new venue, aka a new home was eventually found @ the esteemed Uttam Mancha. The Pit crew would like to go on record by thanking them for their co-operation.

And so for a day, the 29th of February 2012, Kolkata’s annual metal convention (OR Kolkata’s yearly get-together for all lovers of metal) was held yet again, for the 6th time:



The line-up this time had a bit of new and old for the 750+ strong crowd. Apart from the big 3 of Kolkata: EVIL CONSCIENCE, YONSAMPLE and CHRONIC XORN and Kolkata’s leading metal upstarts WHAT ESCAPES ME, there were 3 new bands making their debut appearance @ Kolkata’s showcase metal event: metal-core act AGE OF CHAOS, melodic death metalers DISTORTED THOUGHT PATTERN, and Kolkata’s only female fronted metal band CREMATORY ART!  


And so to the event – with the event falling bang within the school/college exam season, the organizers had to delay the start by an extra hour to allow examinees (band member and music lover both) ample time to arrive at the venue. But the wait was worth it as the enthusiastic crowd went into over-drive when local metal-core act Age Of Chaos officially kicked off THE PIT v.6 – Dread Revolution – and thus started 7 straight hours of non-stop metal mayhem.

Age Of Chaos have been playing the local college circuit for the past couple of years but it is only recently that they have blossomed into a band ready to take on the rest of the country. With their originals like “Third World Messiah” and “Ammunition” already well-known, the crowd warmed up to them very easily indeed. Local critics consider them to be the most improved metal act in the city today – and definitely a taste of their musicianship and original compositions cannot refute this critique. A band for the future, provided a few of their members can survive the ordeal of campus recruitment and job related city-relocation in a few months time.


Distorted Thought Pattern started out as a school band of South Point High School – but over the years they have evolved into a melodic death metal outfit! That shows you how Darwin’s Theory of Evolution applies to heavy metal as well! Anyway, they were the 2nd band to rule the stage and their set-list soon had the crowd headbanging most enthusiastically. Distorted Thought Pattern (or DTP for short) is another band very active in the local college circuit – and apart from their very entertaining originals, the band is well-respected for their no-nonsense approach to their gigs and their music. And it was no different with their debut performance at THE PIT v.6 where they delivered a competent and highly charged 45 minutes of metal mayhem, and their originals “In Disguise”, “Dystopia”, “Astral Architecture” and “Into Oblivion” left the crowd asking for more.


Act 3 was What Escapes Me – easily one of the best acts in Kolkata today. Despite the band lately not being very active in the gig circuit, their popularity had not diminished a bit as was evident from the huge roar of approval for the band’s performance – especially when they played their originals “Pseudo Showcase”, “Maze Of Mutual Apocalypse” and the most excellent “Section 66 Part 5”. What Escapes Me is indeed a band to look out for, and big hopes rest upon their not-so-broad shoulders for the future of Kolkata metal.


The last of the 3 new bands to make their debut @ The Pit was Crematory Art – although this band has been around for less than a year, it has done well at the college circuit. Plus having a female vocalist/front-woman does seem to have piqued the curiosity of metalheads, both local and on the national scene. And honestly enough the hype is justified on all fronts. Their original “Outcast” has already reached the heights of popularity due to it’s continuous runs on the band’s Reverbnation site. And their short set-list which also included compositions like “Illusion” and “Loop of Void Bliss” did not disappoint the masses of metal-heads present at the arena.

Crematory Art, apart from creating PIT history by having the privilege of being the 1st featured band to have a female member, are also probably only 1 of the handful of bands currently active in the national metal circuit to have a female front-woman… At the top of my head Delhi’s Hypnotic Sunday and Mumbai’s Chronic Phobia come to mind, but I can’t recollect any other similar band. Anyway, it was great to have featured Crematory Art, and hopefully this will open the flood-gates for other bands with female members featuring at THE PIT in future editions.


Evil Conscience is, without a doubt, one of the heaviest bands in the Kolkata circuit – if not the heaviest. And just as they have done during the last 5 PITs, this time too they pulverized the crowd into submission with their brutal compositions, which included “Mammoth Rivalry”, “Your God Is Burning” and “Grim Shutdown”. Evil Conscience is one of the founder member bands of THE PIT and it has been a solid rock amidst all the changes taking place in the local scene. This band definitely deserves a lot more recognition than they currently have received and hopefully in 2012 they will be able to get rid of their current under-dog tag.    


Enough has been written about Yonsample and their current achievements. This band has created waves in the national scene and is currently one of the flag bearers for Kolkata metal. Like most of their recent shows, their 1 hour slot @ The Pit was the stuff of dreams for the crowd. Their set-list was packed with songs from their critically acclaimed EP “Paraphernalia” including “Passage”, “Reincarnation”, “Chaos Theory” and “Breaking Through”, the former easily being one of the most popular numbers in the Kolkata metal circuit. “Breaking Through” never fails to get the crowd into a mass singing frenzy, and their performance of this song that day was no exception. Also performed were some of their newer compositions, “Espial Abyys Afloat” and “Sundered Vicinity” and the crowd lapped these compositions up eagerly.

Yonsample, btw, will soon be performing in the North-East. So if you haven’t caught them live before then do so @ the inaugural run of the Imphal Metal Convention, where they will be performing as a guest band with Nagaland’s Azure Delusion and other stalwarts of the Manipur metal scene like Sandrembee, Cleave, Dead Mobsters, Chem.Weed.FM and the mighty POSTMARK.


Fresh from their conquest of NIT Silchar @ THUNDERMARCH 2012, Chronic Xorn rushed back home to Kolkata 2 days later, ready to rumble THE PIT v.6. And rumble they did – the closing act for this edition of the event, Chronic Xorn (another of THE PIT founding member bands) kept the crowd panting for more with each song they performed. Playing numbers from their popular EP “Death.Destruction.Sermon” and also playing tracks from their soon to be released debut album “From Mercy”, Chronic Xorn kept the venue packed even after the crowd had experienced 6 straight hours of metal. “Necropolis”, “My Little Obsession”, “Bleeding” and the anthemic “Death.Destruction.Sermon” were a few of their ditties dished out that evening in their almost hour-long set-list.

Chronic Xorn are currently the most active metal band in the Kolkata circuit – and apart from regular performances within the state it is great to see them spreading their music to other parts of the country, and especially in the East. Watch out for them playing in the North-East in the future, at a city near you!


And with Chronic Xorn ending their performance, so too, did the curtains come down upon the 6th version of The Pit. It was a PIT that was organized in the most trying of conditions and circumstances. There were moments when The Pit crew had come close to scrapping the event altogether. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel however, and so too for The Pit, things eventually did fall into place. This gives The Pit hope that the situation will improve for metal-heads in this city in the not-too-distant future. And that is all that we need now – hope, support and a bit of belief.

We look forward to your belief, support and hope @ The Pit v.7  


AbeshiusPerfectus said...

Ah that definitely did cheer me up a lot! Reminiscence :)

p@tr!(k said...

Prasanna, as you well know I don't know much about metal, and I plead complete ignorance about it's many sub-genres, but you should also know that I totally wish you and all your cohorts of The Pit and everyone else who are keeping the independent music scene alive and kicking particularly in Calcutta and generally elsewhere in India the very best. More importantly, the fact that you blog about it is as important. All power to you! And keep on truckin', as musicians of my generation are wont to say! :)

Prasanna said...

Thank you Patrick
The horns for you my friend \m/