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Posts Tagged ‘Demonstealer Records

Ten Years Later:A Darkness Descends

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Last month at the Metal edition of Control Alt Delete, the guys behind Bhenchod Madarchod zine decided to release a special zine. I contributed an article to the zine. Read the entire article below.

The number of releases by Indian metal bands has increased rapidly since the year 2000, and that can be easily attributed to both the home recording tech revolution and the rising popularity of the genre. One of the first such albums that I recall buying was 2005’s A Darkness Descends by Mumbai based death/black metal band Demonic Resurrection.

A Darkness Descends

If you’re a scenester from back in the day and own the album, I’m sure you’re reading this and wondering “Huh, it’s almost 10 years since it released?”

The album was a landmark release for its time when it came to the production, artwork, marketing and promotion. In fact, the promotional aspect came to be synonymous with Demonic Resurrection front man Sahil “Demonstealer” Makhija. I caught up with him recently to find out more about the album, its recording process and a lot more.

“We started writing material after the new line up of the band (Mephisto and JP) came together in 2003,” says Sahil reflecting on the early days. “We started jamming on new material as they said they did not want to play any of the old songs.” ‘A Darkness Descends’, ‘A Frozen Portrait’ and ‘Spirits of a Mystic Mountain’ were the first few songs recorded. The first 2 tracks also featured on the Resurrection compilation that was released by Demonstealer Records.

The line-up for the album was Demonstealer on Vocals/Guitars, Mephisto (Keyboards), Husain (Bass) and JP (Drums). “We used to jam every weekend back then and spent the rest of the year writing the rest of the songs except ‘Where Shadows Lie’ and the ‘The Summoning’ which were completed in the studio.” says Sahil, describing the writing process for the album. The album was funded by prize money from college festivals such as RAIT, Mumbai and NSIT, Delhi.

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Makhija, an upcoming music producer then was working at Farhad Wadia’s Power Studios at the time. Having recorded demos for nu metal band Pin Drop Violence, 90’s alt punk act Kinky Ski Munky amongst other bands, it was a no brainer for him to produce the album himself. It was the first time for most of the band members at a professional recording studio.

“The idea was not to hold back on the production. It was not about can we do this live or not, we wanted the album to be the best that it could be,” reveals Sahil. “Working at Wadia’s studio gave me a chance to collaborate with a lot of people.”

Some of the collaborators were: Warren Mendonsa (Blackstratblues/Zero), Pozy Dhar, Prashant Shah (Scribe, Exhumation) who played guitar solos and Taufiq Qureshi and Nimit did guest vocals.

Complementing the production of the album was the exceptional artwork that was designed by Prashant Shah. Each of the 16 pages of the album inlay had a different design, a first for an Indian metal band. “We wanted to create a product that was of international quality,” says Mephisto. “The initial idea for the cover art was a concept that Sahil had in mind, however Prashant’s idea of a Dark Lord overlooking an army and its rendition is something that blew us all away.”

The album was released on 29th October 2005 at the 4th edition of the Resurrection festival at Vashi Marine Centre. The festival was organized by Barcode Entertainment [a venture between Sahil and Husain] and had an impressive line-up featuring acts Exhumation, Kryptos and Myndsnare (both from Bangalore). The show saw a good turnout and everything went off quite smoothly, by Indian metalhead standards. Sahil reminisces of the camaraderie he shares with the Bangalore metal bands. “It was so much easier back then; all we had to do was book their train tickets”.

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Prior to the album release the band had a pre order sale at a special price of Rs. 120 (Rs. 150 for those who lived outside Mumbai), something that was done for the first time by an Indian band. The album went on to sell out their initial print of 1000 copies within the first year, an impressive feat for a metal album that was self-released, and one that most bands can only dream of in today’s ‘industrialised’ scene. In the days before blogs, NH7 (the website or the festival), Rolling Stone, Pepsi MTV Indies or any of the music-related media and infrastructure we take for granted these days, it was Sahil’s incredible drive to succeed and his unabashed commitment to promoting his band and his music that led to such numbers

“I sat at home every weekend writing to labels across the world and do trade with them. A lot of CDs went out there. I think we sold around 500 CDs in India,” says Sahil about his distribution strategy for the album. ‘’Ï made sure all the Futardo’s had the album, also another other music stores. There was even Musicyogi.com, if anyone remembers that website”.

Sahil also deployed Facebook, e-mail campaigns and even a short-lived forums in his efforts to get his music out to as wide an audience as possible. At a time when few bands were interested in putting in time and effort towards self-promotion, Sahil not only made it an important part of his regular routine, he also experimented with a lot of the ideas that are now de rigeur for artists trying to get noticed. Of course, at the time he faced a lot of flak from scenesters annoyed at his ‘spamming’, and not all of those experiments worked out well, but the album did go on to sell another 1000 copies in the next 3 years.

Since the release of this album Demonic Resurrection went on to release an EP “Beyond the Darkness” (2007) and a album “Return to Darkness” (2010) to complete the “Darkness” trilogy. The band also played at some of the biggest metal festivals in the world like Inferno (Norway), Brutal Assault (Czech Republic) and Bloodstock (UK). Next month, the band will be releasing their most ambitious album yet, “The Demon King” which is being distributed in India by Universal Music and in Europe by Candlelight Records. The band will be also be playing a 6 day tour of UK and will also be performing at the Mecca for metalheads, Wacken Open Air. All of which would not have been possible without the success of this album, and the promotional strategies he came up with in trying to sell the record.

In conclusion, when asked if there anything he would like to change about the album, Sahil remarks “As a musician and producer, I wish I could re-record everything to match a different production, not necessarily a modern one. Maybe one day down the line, I will do a classic re-recording of the album.”

Cheers and stay demonic.

(Thanks to Bhanuj Kappal for his inputs and also editing the article)

Written by trendcrusher

July 28, 2014 at 1:26 am

Interview with Reptilian Death

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Sahil Makhija is the most dedicated musician I have met in India. This weekend his death metal project Reptilian Death will release their 2nd album ‘The Dawn of Consummation and Emergence’ with a new line up.

Find out more about the album, the new line up and more in my interview with Sahil below.

RD

Hi Sahil, your album ‘The Dawn of Consummation and Emergence’ releases this weekend. How does it feel to be releasing a Reptilian Death album after 7 years?

It feels great man. This has been a long time coming. As a musician I want to release songs the moment they are done but we took a really long time to get everything in place with this band apart from the music as well and I practiced my ass off for the last 2 years on the drums so that I could record live. So it’s all come full circle and it feels great to have this album on the shelves.

The Dawn of Consummation and Emergence

The album sounds brutal and twisted. What inspired you during the song writing process?

For me the music writing process happens over time when I sit down and play guitar. There is nothing specific for it. I listen to a lot of music and metal over the years and that is what inspires me. I think I just write songs and then go okay this is more suited to DR or RD or Workshop and just get those songs to the respective bands. With RD the first draft of all the songs got done and we had 12 songs from which I actually dropped one and wrote a new one right towards the end of the writing process. Vinays lyrics and vocal style added a completely different dimension to what I envisioned and in a good way because it probably gave the album that slightly different flavour.

You were responsible for the recording and production of the album. How long did the recording process take?

This album was a task because I recorded 10 songs and my amp blew after which I re-recorded all 12 songs and then after a while I was not happy with the sound of it. Same for the bass we recorded the bass twice because we wanted to get the best possible sound for the album. I’d say it was over a period of 12 to 18 months of actual recording. In the end I think am very happy with the result.

How did Vinay and Ashwin become part of Reptilian Death?

I had seen Ashwins bass videos online when Daniel Rego (DR) shared it with me once and I also jammed with him for the DR All-Star gig so when I asked if he was interested in auditioning he readily agreed. Probably the best audition ever. He walked in plugged into the computer, I loaded up track 12 and said are you ready and he said yes and I he recorded the entire song in 1 take. It was flawless and I said you’re hired. As for Vinay I knew I wanted someone else to do the vocals and lyrics because I was creatively drained and also I wanted to focus on just playing the drums. I’m very picky about my death metal vocals and I wanted someone who was a commanding presence on stage and could give Reptilian Death the frontman it required and Vinay was an obvious choice. I asked him and he readily agreed.

The first live performance with the new line up was a surprise set at the 5th edition of Domination – the Deathfest that was held recently. How were the preparations leading up to the gig?

It was pretty intense, we practised our asses off. I was extremely nervous about dropping my sticks during the set and we did many rehearsals with the mask on to ensure we would be stage ready.

Do you have anything special planned for the album launch at Blue Frog in Mumbai this weekend?

No one has seen us before apart from the few at deathfest. The songs are all new. We don’t need anything special. Just come and experience Reptilian Death.

Buy ‘The Dawn of Consummation and Emergence’ here and here

check out ‘O’ from the album below

Demonic Resurrection

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Demonic Resurrection are India’s leading metal band. Over the past 12 years, the band has released 3 albums, 1 EP and played countless gigs across India and even Norway and Czech Republic. This summer they will be performing at the Bloodstock Festival in UK.

Heres an extensive interview I did with the Demonstealer in 2006 which appeared in the Trendcrusher Zine # 2.

Hailz Demonstealer!! How are things in the Demonic Lair??

Demonstealer: Hailz!! Things are good in the Demonic Lair, we are about to start working on new material and we playing a few festivals and shows in the coming months. The album has been doing well too, so everything is going really well.

How did you get the name THE DEMONSTEALER??

Demonstealer: A young enthusiastic 16-year old boy named Sahil Makhija had a dream to form a black metal band and spawned the name Demonic Resurrection. This strapping young lad, being positively influenced by bands like Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and especially Old Mans Child, noticed a common factor between all of them, which was members having stage names like Galdar, Ihsahn, Shagrath etc. The lad too felt that a stage name would give him an identity and also set apart his normal self from the raging beast he turns into on stage (much like the incredible hulk only not so incredible). And being a Lord Of The Rings virgin at 16, he at best could christen himself as The Demonstealer. So thats the story on how I got the name. Of course, after that in the most light hearted way I came up with the concept of stealing demons and collecting them for my army which will be resurrection by Demonic Resurrection.

Are you religious? What are you thoughts on Religion, God, and Satan??

Demonstealer: I am not religious. I am an atheist. I think religion is like a business, it is a bastardized form of what it was originally meant to be. I wonder why people dont question religion, I dont really bother with it anymore but just wonder why people dont ask the simple question like ‘why does my religion tell me to do this or not do this?’. Also religion has become an excuse for anything at all to rape, plunder, loot, kill…. which just sickens me. Satan however is just a cool concept and is also very misunderstood the only thing I have to say is visit http://www.churchofsatan.com and read their principles and most of them make a lot of sense and are not the ‘evil’ thing they are perceived to be.

Demonic resurrection has been through many line-up changes in its 5 yrs of existence. Tell me a bit about the History of the band.

Demonstealer: Make that 6 years, but yes weve had more line-up changes than Michael Jacksons got nose jobs. The band first formed in March 2000, when I was able to find the right members. I had the band name and the songs ready and I wanted musicians to play it, therefore DR came into being. After the numerous lineup changes we managed to settle on a constant lineup from 2001 till 2002 which was Yash(Drums), Nikita(Vocals/Keys), Aditya(Bass) and myself(vocals/guitars). Our style then was more doom/gothic with a mix of female vocals and growls and ambient keyboards. Sometime in 2002 the band fell apart and I was more or less the only remaining member. Around Jan 2003 I was able to reform the band with the current lineup. Husain from Reptilian Death joined on bass, Mephisto tried my patience with a cocky email because he thought I was rather swollen-headed and after much chasing and finally an audition, he joined the band. A spontaneous jam at a local competition between JP, Husain and me got JP interested joined to complete the line-up. The bands sound went through a complete overhaul as we decided to scrap the old material and compose new material together. The last piece of the puzzle was completed when Pradeep joined the band in January 2006 and we are looking forward to his contribution on the next album. I guess that covers the history of the band in the shortest possible way. A 300 page story is available on our website for anyone suffering from insomnia.

You released the Demonic Resurrection album DEMONSTEALER after being together for about 9 months as a band. What was the response to the album? Were you satisfied with the production?

Demonstealer: I can safely say the initial response to the album was great. When it came out there were few precedents and hardly any bands releasing material independently. There wasnt a single Indian metal album then. We released it at the prestigious college fest Strawberry Fields 2000 in Bangalore and I was overwhelmed by the support we got. Almost all the members of all the bands there like Kryptos, Myndsnare, Threinody, all bought a copy of the CD and gave us positive feedback. I remember selling about 60 CDs at that gig with the help of these two metalheads Sandesh & Kiran both of whom wed just met but their support was tremendous. They took our CDs and went out into the crowd and sold them all. The reviews on the websites were good and we were happy with the feedback. We even sent the CD abroad to Vampiria Records and they gave us a very positive response but eventually, those plans didnt work out. Of course the bad reviews came later. Production-wise when I listen to the old album today and compare it with not just the new DR album but even demos released by bands today, it is rather terrible, but when it came out it was my 1st recording and I was happy with it then and even though it wasnt great most people looked past it till other bands set better precedents. I feel those songs deserve to be re-released with the production capabilities available to me today, which is the reason I am re-recording the entire thing.

Tell me a bit about your debut album Demonstealer. How did you go about in the Songwriting process, recording etc.

Demonstealer: This was something I more or less did single handedly and it was done in a hurry because I wanted to release it at Strawberry Fields in 2000 so it was a bit hurried and because of my lack of knowledge it didnt quite come out the way I envisioned it in my head. Also we had to use programmed drums because of no recording budget and with it being an independent release. It was a quick photocopied cover slapped on a plain CD-R and truly looked like a bands demo. But it was good for the band and it was a learning process.

In October 05 you released A DARKNESS DESCENDS, 3 years after DEMONSTEALER. Do you feel you did anything different this time?

Demonstealer: The whole process this time was different. We took a more professional approach to the recording and production. I worked as a sound engineer for the last 3 years so it definitely helped me make sure the production quality was top notch. We also took a long time to record the entire album and we experimented a lot with the recording. It was a 5 month long process and we got a lot of guest musicians to play on the album, which gave the sound a whole new dimension, and it was a totally exhilarating experience. Even the artwork was an insane process and I spent many nights awake sitting with Prashant & Deepti getting the design right. So it was truly an experience and having that finished product in our hand felt fantastic.

What was the response this time around?

Demonstealer: Unbelievable is the word. The reviews weve received have been fantastic. Some of the biggest webzines like The Metal Observer and Metalstorm have rated the album highly. Our fans have posted tons of great reviews on our website. I can safely say that we have achieved what we set out to — putting out a killer album.

Tell me a bit about A Darkness Descends. Songwriting process, recording etc.

Demonstealer: This was a complete band effort. All the songs were composed together as a band and it took us 3 years to write these 10 songs. We took a lot more time in the studio and we recorded everything and everyone put in their ideas. We also were able to record live drums on the CD which was great because it would have been incomplete without having JP actually drumming on it. Even the artwork was a lot more detailed and a lot of time was spent working on it. Full credit to the design team of Prashant, Deepti & Pratik. We also got the CDs professional pressed so we managed to release a quality album this time and we were all very happy with the result.

Your song Frozen Portrait is like Hit single off A Darkness Descends. Tell me a bit about this track. Your thoughts on why people like this track so much??

Demonstealer: I originally wrote this song for my girlfriend (the lyrics) and even most of the riffs were meant for a song we were supposed to record together but it ended up becoming a DR Song and I guess our most well known song. Since it was the most popular song live and because it was the perfect song to break people in to our music, we recorded it first as our demo. After that there was no looking back. It was being downloaded and we were getting good feedback and also it featured on the Great Indian Rock IX compilation, which helped us tremendously. I guess people like the song because its melodic, catchy and (modestly) just a damn good song.

A Darkness Descends had sold more abroad then in India. How the hell did that happen??

Demonstealer: Well that took a lot of hard work. I compiled a list of over 200 distros & record labels and mailed every single one of them and thanks to good reviews we got, most of them responded positively and were willing to take up distribution. Thats how most of our copies got sold and that is how we got our CD on most of the international distros & labels. The sales in India however are not far behind; they are roughly the same as the international figures. We are only a few copies away from touching the 1000 mark for worldwide sales.

What are the themes behind your songs? I see a lot of Fantasy and War themes in them.

Demonstealer: Fantasy is the main theme of all the songs. I would say they are a translation of pictures I see in my head. A lot of it is Lord of The Rings inspired, and when I say this I mean in concept rather than just direct influence. More than anything the medieval era of knights, dragons, kings and castles has always fascinated me. I have my own visions of demons, dragons, warriors etc but basically its fantasy and fiction. Occasionally I write something different, for example on the album, the song Behind The Mask Of God deals with my views on religion and God which was something I wrote when I was 16 but still carried the lyrics 8 years down the line to the new DR album. However for my next album Im looking at spatial, abstract themes.

From your music I can tell you have varied influences. Which artists have influenced you individually and as a band?

Demonstealer: when I started listening to metal, bands like Metallica, Pantera, Sepultura, Fear Factory were huge influences and later on its been artists like SYL, Dimmu Borgir, Blind Guardian, Emperor, Kamelot, Behemoth, Children Of Bodom, Susperia, Dark Tranquility, The Crown. The band members have very varied influences as well, the common ones being Dimmu Borgir, Emperor etc.
Mephisto listens to a lot of black metal like Immortal, Dark Throne, Burzum and Death Metal like Nile, Hate Eternal, and Deicide etc. Husain listens to a lot of Pink Floyd along with assorted underground death and black metal bands. JP listens to everything from Hate Eternal & Cannibal Corpse to Jazz to Rush & Dream Theatre. Pradeep listens to a lot of music from different genres as well.

Do you guys have Day jobs?? What do you do for a living?

Demonstealer: Everyone is working. Husain is an MBA and works in Grey Worldwide as a Media Planner. Jetesh works in Mudra Advertising. JP works with his dad in his family business. Pradeep teaches guitar and I am in between jobs, am set to join Furtados Music to handle all their Artist and Event Management.

What do you guys do to chill out, relax?? Watch movies etc.??

Actually we dont really get time to hang out because we all are working and live really far away from each other. Even when we practice it is mostly late at night and since we live really far away we generally just head home.

Do you guys get drunk together often?? Indian beers and other alcohol to check out

Demonstealer:We go drink together once in 6months but dont really get drunk because Mephisto & Pradeep dont drink, Jp can hold his liquor and I dont drink enough and well Husain is just Husain.

Tell me a bit about your record label DEMONSTEALER RECORDS.

Demonstealer: In 2000 when I released Demonstealer, the album, I put Demonstealer Records somewhere on the CD. I went on to release Reptilian Deaths Total Annihilation and Barcode Entertainments Resurrection. Finally I said its time to do this seriously and got myself a logo and released A Darkness Descends under the Demonstealer Records banner. I realized that there wasnt a single label for metal in India and especially not one that would promote Indian underground bands. Also the sale of DR worldwide encouraged me even more and I decided to sign up bands and start a full-fledged label. That is how it came about, though its still a work in progress.

Have you singed any bands to your label?

Demonstealer:I have currently signed Scribe, Bhayanak Maut, Skincold, Bitchslap, Amidst the Chaos, Exhumation, Reptilian Death, Narsil, Devoid & Black Hole Theory.

What plans do you have for the bands signed to your label?

Demonstealer: Well I am currently focused on releasing a few split CDs with most of the bands and following that, full-length albums for those bands that I feel are worth it.

You also run a Distro.Tell us about your trade policies etc. Do you have any criteria? How can bands get you to stock their cds/merch?

Demonstealer: Demonstealer Records has a distro section as well and I basically am willing to trade anything at all as long as its a pressed CD. I dont really have an interest in CD-Rs and Im open to any genre of Rock or Metal. If bands want me to stock their CDs or merchandise they just need to send an e-mail to demonstealerrecords@gmail.com with their request.

You are also part of Barcode Entertainment which organizes Resurrection, Indias only extreme metal fest amongst other things. You have held 5 Resurrections so far, highlights from those gigs??

Demonstealer: Basically the highlight would be that we have set up a platform for extreme metal. We have got a gig where the best of Indias extreme metal bands come perform to a packed house of people. We also put out a zine for the event which is something that we use to promote the event as well as the bands. We even released the compilation of the same name featuring extreme metal bands from all over India. So it has been a good thing that happened.

Future plans for Resurrection??? When is the next Resurrection going to be held??

Demonstealer: Well Resurrection, like any festival that is successful, will grow and we certainly are looking at making each Resurrection better than the previous one. As our audience size grows, we will move to bigger venues. Currently we are looking at bringing out different bands, making sure we can release a zine at each gig. Of course our future includes getting foreign bands and taking Resurrection to Bangalore & Delhi. Currently we are working on Resurrection 6 to be held on Oct 1st 2006 and we got a big surprise.

India is not a country know for metal; tell us a bit about the scene there? Are people supportive of the bands?

Demonstealer: The Indian scene is forever growing and evolving. The scene which was once infested with cover bands, maybe 1 album released in 2 years and rock shows being an infrequent affair has suddenly got tons of bands, a lot more albums being released, lots more events being organized. It has taken the audience a while to adjust to the change, from hearing their favourite Iron Maiden cover at a gig to bands playing all original sets. The support is there and its growing.

Metal bands from India that people should know about.

Demonstealer: There are quite a few but definitely I feel people must know Kryptos, Exhumation, Narsil, IIIrd Sovereign, Myndsnare, Acrid Semblance, Cosmic Infusion, Black Hole Theory, Devoid, Bhayanak Maut and many many more..

Are there many gigs in India? How expensive is it to organize a metal gig in India? Average attendance for a show?

Demonstealer: Off late theres been a whole bunch of gigs in India spanning a variety of genres. Definitely it is expensive and not easy because most companies either dont relate their bands to the style of music being played or they simply dont want to spend money on a gig. Hence getting the required sponsorship for a show is very hard. It is because of this that we dont have international metal artists coming down. There are 3 types of shows really. College gigs/competitions which have most of the money because theyre large institutions, so they have good shows but they feature amateur bands with maybe one professional headlining band and mostly they arent extreme metal. Then there are the club gigs, which have an attendance from 100 people to 500 people. Resurrection is Indias only extreme metal fest, which is held at Razzberry Rhino, the only club thats open to rock shows in Bombay and draws over 500 people each time. Then there are the big open air gigs/festivals like Independence Rock which is a 2 day show thats on its 21st year running and Great Indian Rock Fest which just completed its 10th year and these shows have an attendance of 5000-7000 people each day. Thats the scene more or less.

Are facilities like studios/jam rooms etc easily available to Bands in India?

Demonstealer: There are no professional jam rooms available, its mostly people jamming at their homes, garages, warehouses etc and finding a place to practice is a hard task. With regard to studios, there are top notch facilities available but engineers who understand this music arent easy to find. Also most capable engineers and studios cost more than the average band can afford. However things are changing for the better now. I myself have a home setup where I record & produce bands and the number of engineers who now understand the music is growing and are recording bands at affordable rates.

The city you are from Mumbai/Bombay (as I like to call it) is home to the Indian Film industry Bollywood. Would you compose music for one of the Indian movies if given the opportunity?

Demonstealer:As Sahil Makhija I would be open to doing it but frankly I dont think I have the skill to do it though but sure I’d give it a shot and give it my own style and sound.

Finals words and thoughts

Demonstealer: Well, as always. To all those reading, download our music at http://www.myspace.com/demonicresurrection and do pick up a copy of our album from any of the distros stocking it. Till then, Cheers and Stay Demonic The Demonstealer.

Written by trendcrusher

May 6, 2012 at 4:00 am