REVIEW: DEMONIC RESURRECTION – “Dashavatar”
Demonic Resurrection and its founder and frontman Sahil ‘Demonstealer’ Makhija are an integral piece in the Indian Metal saga. Formed in 2000, the band has risen up from being a bunch of 17 year old kids, ridiculed for their amateurish music and cheesy stage names, to becoming one of the most respected bands in the scene, often looked up to by several younger bands as a source of inspiration and for much needed guidance. Demonic Resurrection actually started off as a goth metal, female fronted band inspired by Norwegian bands like Theater of Tragedy and Tristania but quickly moved towards a symphonic Black Metal direction drawing influences from bands like Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth. Makhija took the responsibility of both the rhythm guitars as well as the vocal duties apart from being the main songwriter as the band forged their way through the treacherous landscape of the Indian Metal scene. In their 17th year of existence, they have battled several lineup changes, with the latest one being the departure of their long time Keyboardist Mephisto who left the band before they release their latest album ‘Dashavatar’ on March 15 independently. ‘Dashavatar’ translates to the 10 avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu and each of the album’s track speaks about a specific avatar as imagined by the band. The stunning artwork by Reuben Bhattacharya, on the cover depicts the Hindu god Vishnu as an alien Hypergod of the multiverse, and frankly, is one of the finest work of art I have come across.
Lately, we have seen Demonic Resurrection introducing newer elements and subtle changes in their sound. While the “Darkness” trilogy did not deviate much from the symphonic Black Metal characteristics, ‘The Demon King’ incorporated a few more layers in the composition and also imparted a distinct Power Metal vibe on a few of the tracks. This experimentation reaches new heights on ‘Dashavatar’, where the band gives us a radically new sound that we have never heard from the band in any of their previous albums. This is by far the biggest shift in the sound that they have made. It becomes clear as soon as the monologue of the first track “Matsya – The Fish” ends and we are hit by a sweet melody on a Sitar! Barely seconds after it, we are hit by a barrage of tremolo picked riffage on the guitars as well as the Sitar. At this point of time we realize that we are in for a very different Demonic Resurrection album. The track marches on led by a melodic guitar line before Demonstealer’s massive growls kick in and it does not take long to be overawed by the amount of instrumentation and the rich texture of the track. The track mixes the Indian Classical elements with the Blackened Death Metal aggression perfectly to kick off this album in style. Rishabh Seen on the Sitar is very impressive and takes the track to a whole new level.
The subsequent track “Kurma – The Tortoise” takes things back to the “Demonic Resurrection” realm with the composition bearing the recognizable traits of the band’s staple sound, but not for long. Midway it twists to a very “Indian” groove with Devang Shinde’s work on the Tabla amidst the chants of “Om Namah Shivaay”. Pratika Prabhune (Chronic Phobia) also makes a guest appearance with nice clean vocals towards the end of the track. At this point you are hooked onto the album like a child waiting for the next surprise to be thrown at you.
The band does really well to keep the compositions very well balanced and seldom do they go overboard with the Indian elements in the composition. They never lose their identity and at the same time, provide us with a refreshing new take on their sound. Take “Krishna – The Cowherd” for example. Never before you would have heard the band in such a folksy avatar before, but just when you think you have figured out the song, the band twists it back to their trademark style. Similarly on “Buddha – The Teacher”, the epicness of the final moments will consume you.
Nishith Hegde’s work on the guitar is very impressive and plays an active role in shaping the sound of the band. Apart from the solos on the album, there are several subtle guitar lines that accentuate and elevate the tracks at the right moments that make you go wow.
Demonstealer’s clean vocals are a bit different on this album as compared to their previous releases as he introduces a certain grittiness in them. However, I always felt he is much better at growling than singing. On this album too, I feel the weakest moments of the album are when he incorporates the cleans. But it is a very minor flaw in otherwise a great release.
To summarize, ‘Dashavatar’ will go down as one of the strongest releases by the band. The compositions are richly intricate but not at the cost of diluting the belligerence. The classical Indian elements are really well incorporated and give this band an exciting new direction to follow. Demonic Resurrection carve a new identity for themselves with this new album and it will be interesting to watch whether it persists in their future releases or not.