Very rarely has the first edition of a metal music festival put all
their cards on the table as that of CultFest
2015. Inexplicably emerging on the Indian music scene last year and
steadily gaining momentum (both monetary, structurally and through
word-of-mouth) over the past few months, CultFest promised us two big-name
metal superstars as part of the line-up of their maiden effort. And they sure
as shit didn’t disappoint on the day of April 11, 2015, as the concert saw the
debut performances of American deathcore stalwarts Suicide Silence and
almighty death metal legends Cannibal Corpse.
organised extraordinarily well for a first edition. With the Manpho
Convention Grounds on the northern edge of the city as its sanctum
sanctorum, the festival featured all the usual trappings of a large-scale metal
gig: merch stands, well-supplied (if not slightly overpriced) food stalls, and
even an X-Box booth of all things. While the start of the festival’s
performances in the late afternoon was slightly unusual timing for a metal gig,
the CultCrew managed each of the bands’ timeslots with great precision and nary
the performances of Pune’s Abraxas and Shillong’s Plague Throat.
CultFest’s tight live sound worked to Abraxas’ advantage as they brought their
breakdown-infused fury down on the masses. With frontman Karan Pote‘s
long locks of hair entering a state of perpetual motion, the band blazed through their
setlist without any pause for a breather, successfully pumping up the audience
for what was to come later that evening. Their performance almost made us
wonder when the bloody hell that “long-awaited” debut album of theirs
would come out.
|Iaidon of Plague Throat (Pic by Sairaj R Kamath)|
Meanwhile, Plague Throat were that evening’s perfect example of
“doing more with less”. In spite of being restricted to three members
with one rhythm guitar between them, the band belted out riff after groovy
death metal riff, evoking an especially passionate response from some of their
homegrown fans in the crowd. Nangsan‘s guitar solos were the high point
of their performance, and anyone in the crowd at that point could’ve been
forgiven for thinking that despite being a death metal band, these
Shillong-based metallers perhaps held a candle to the groove metal majesty and
shred-tastic solo guitar of Pantera
and Dimebag Darrell. Or at the very
least, ‘The Great Southern Trendkill’
relaxed but still tantalising half-hour wait for Suicide Silence to come on at
6:45. This afforded a breather for the audience to grab a bite to eat, have a
smoke, and recharge their batteries for the main event. Finally, at around 7, Suicide Silence hit the stage.
|Eddie Hermida of Suicide Silence (Pic by Sairaj R Kamath)|
From older favourites like “No
Pity for a Coward” and “Unanswered”
to newer hits like “You Can’t Stop Me”
and “O.C.D” (their “party-jam”, as
the band called it), Suicide Silence ripped through their setlist in a blaze of
breakdowns and wind-milling. Eddie
Hermida and co. were an emotive and frenetic bunch, constantly headbanging
and gurning at the audience and making them sing along to the choruses of
tracks like “Fuck Everything”. The
moshpits kicked up huge dust clouds at that point, further fuelled by Hermida’s
pig squeals and Mark Heylmun’s and Chris Garza’s slamming riffs. It was
almost like the space pigs from the ‘Duke
Nukem’ games had suddenly landed on Earth with fuck-off loud instruments
and a wall of amps.
even though the drums slightly overpowered the guitars in the live mix. One
down, one to go.
|George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher of Cannibal Corpse (Pic by Sairaj R Kamath)|
Even as Suicide Silence left the stage, a downpour of rain started
bringing itself down on CultFest, threatening to put a damper on the final hour
of the concert. However, it was with still-high spirits that the crowd welcomed
Cannibal Corpse on to the stage.
Preferring not to mince words, the ‘Corpse immediately got down to business and
unleashed “Scourge of Iron” in a
wave of old-school death metal riffage and monstrous growls. Where Suicide
Silence had brewed up a sandstorm in the audience, Cannibal Corpse made their
fans mosh and headbang in a messy pit of mud and slush in the midst of the
ongoing rains. Their setlist acknowledged almost all the eras of their 25-plus
year career, right from older fare like “I
Cum Blood” and “Sentenced to Burn”
to their most recent head-splitters like “Demented
Aggression” and “Kill or Become”.
It got to the point where the bouncers and even some of the pit crew had to
manually hold the barricades steady to hold back the wave of rabid metalheads.
CultFest, forcing the ‘Corpse to end their set about 20 minutes early with
their seminal hit “Hammer Smashed Face”
and an encore of “Make Them Suffer”.
While this certainly pleased the entire crowd, it took some doing by the
CultCrew to convince some of the fans at the barricades screaming “one more
song!” that the concert had actually ended; even after the band had packed
everything in, funnily enough.
spoilsport at the last hour, CultFest’s first edition was a definite success.
The team brought down talent that we could only hope to see at least once or
twice in our lifetimes, while two giants in American heavy metal were
introduced to whole new legion of fans to perhaps visit one more time in the
future. Corpsegrinder’s Neck be praised; it was a blast.