The half an hour wait before Mario Duplantier took place behind his drum kit and the band took to the stage, was probably the most ecstatic time of my career as a Metal-Head. The crowd ominously chanted “Go-Ji-Ra, Go-Ji-Ra…” their monotony lapsed into a trance of sorts for those who were within earshot of the hymn, it was almost like a mantra to summon the Gods. As they took the stage, all hell broke loose when the opening riff of Explosia came grooving through the PA. The band seemed as tight as ever and they sounded better live than they did in their records. I know I had a hell of a time because I was waiting to see these guys live since their ‘The Way of All Flesh’ album came out back in 2008, and my spirit agreed with me because my neck has been sore all day.
My friend and I reached the venue at around 4:30 in the evening, getting directions from a traffic cop who directed us to the “Raack Show”. The gates were supposed to open half an hour earlier because two bands had backed out from the gig, but it seemed like the sound check was still on. When I reached the venue I was disheartened because the stage and ground seemed like they could accommodate only a thousand people. I heard people say that because of the Testament gig happening at the other end of town, rather outside it, a majority of Bangalore’s metal crowd had decided to see the Thrash Metal titans instead. But all hope was not lost, by the time we were inside, the crowd had tripled from what I had seen outside.
The first band, Gutslit, a four piece hailing from Mumbai, India, got the crowd going even though they played only four songs (or maybe it was three, I don’t remember). The band’s highlight was their vocalist, whose gutturals were as brutal as they could get. Their songs, although heavy, were amateurish. Nothing great but not bad either. Their exit marked the entry of Eccentric Pendulum, one of the leading bands of the current Indian Metal scene. I had seen them once before, when the opened for progressive metal pioneers Opeth at the SummerStorm 2012 festival, but this time they were accompanied by their new guitarist, Ashish, who sported an awesome Schecter’s Jeff Loomis guitar (I’ve been dying to get that for over a year now). They ripped out some of their best songs, and they sounded tight as hell. They got the crowd ‘moshing’ and headbanging, setting the tone, or rather the rhythm, for the day.
The first international act to play was Flayed Disciple, a brutal five piece Death Thrash outfit from U.K. Their setup time was a little stretched out the band’s guitarists kept the crowd busy with some classy antics. I was new to them albeit impressed by their music, and by how ergonomic their chemistry was on stage. Their appearance was that of a cult thrash outfit and their music no less. The vocalist, to me, had a slightly familiar persona match with Gaahl from Gorgoroth, probably because they had the same facial hair or something. Their last song , ‘Angel of Death’ by Thrash Metal veterans, Slayer, got the crowd mad. It confirmed my speculation that they were Slayer inspired, but I gave two f**ks and jumped into the circle pit, pushing half the crowd down with my headbutts. Immediately after Flayed Disciple entered the band that was probably the second best outfit of the evening, Bloodshot Dawn, a band that calls themselves and their music ‘brutal’. Their vocalist was armed with a custom Waghorn guitar with a pretty groovy yet heavy guitar tone. Their melodies were flawless and the vocals were as brutal as they could get. The man behind the drums joined in with guttural which amplified their music and it was followed by the oft and much frequented use of blast beats. The band got me headbanging like crazy and got me all hyped for the main Act. The frontman, Josh McMorran, in a very queer way reminded me of Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth frontman), and the bonus was that this guy went all out Rambo with his guitar. The crowd was having an indelible night of havoc.
The last opening band for the evening was Xerath, one of the biggest names in the underground Groove metal scene. Their vocalist was an odd reminiscence of Phil Anselmo, the godfather of Groove metal. The killer thing that happened then was that a bald, buff, biker-guy, with a ‘Down’ t-shirt (the same the Xerath vocalist wore and my friend wanted) came next to me, all drunk and started headbanging and slam dancing like it was a Pantera concert all over again. Since he was drunk I told him to swing his tee and headbang, to which he complied in his maniacal state of groove and intoxication. The dudes from Flayed Disciple made an untimely appearance then and distributed their CD’s in the crowd (yes, they need all promotions they can get), and I got one too (yay!). Xerath’s riffs were insanely groovy, which got the crowd to sway and head bang in a unanimous way, like we were all a part of this much larger organism that was enjoying the music, like we all did. Their set was a short one and with their exit began the anxious wait for the headliners, Gojira. The collective crowd shared Goosebumps and vaguely thumping hearts.
Much time passed and suddenly the base tone of the album L’Enfant Sauvage hit the PA. The band immediately made their entry and the crowd went wild with frenzy. I hadn’t seen a crowd this excited since Iron Maiden back in 2008. Their set was an awesome 50 minutes long and their set list included a caboose of their best songs, such as: ‘Oroborous’, ‘Toxic Garbage Island’, ‘Vacuity’ and ‘The Heaviest Matter in the Universe’. The band showed their true live shindig with their second track when they went crazy and jumped around the entire stage, getting the crowd on their feet and mosh pits underway. The band dedicated the song ‘Wisdom Comes’ as homage to the recently deceased master of classical music, Shri Ravi Shankar. They also played ‘Love’ from their debut album ‘Terra Incognita’ and the heavy title track from their latest album, ‘L’Enfant Sauvage’ (literally translating to The Wild Child). Jean Labadie, their bassist was at his best on stage, headbanging like there is not tomorrow and Mario going technically crazy behind his kit. Joe’s voice was as brutal as ever, and it was scary how he managed to maintain it till the end of the gig.
The highlight of their set was when Joe and Mario switched places to play the last once minute of a track I can’t seem to recall because I was busy headbanging (a sad excuse) and also the crazy drum solo Mario played while Joe looked on. I met two awesome people in the crowd, Madhuri, an NRI who very conveniently lives in France and a John from Nepal. Both of them were in front of me and we were in a continuous yet synchronous head-bang all through their set. As the members of the band left the stage I was ecstatic because I finally got to see them live and also mildly disappointed because I wished their set lasted longer. As the crowd started dispersing, me and my friend jumped the barricades and made our way backstage to the ‘meet and greet’. We had just missed Gojira but shared a moment with the other bands. We also saw our very own Demonstealer backstage It was awesome and we were tired and dehydrated as we made our way back to our ride. Throughout the ride back home, me and my buddy sang the choruses of every Gojira song we could remember and as I crashed into bed late that night, it was with ‘Global Warming‘ playing on my mp3.