The Indian extreme metal scene is brewing, with bands such as Demonic Resurrection and Kryptos gaining more exposure of late. We manage to catch up with Devoid, a death/thrash metal band that is currently signed onto Demonstealer Records, and learn more about their craft.
HMT: Greetings Devoid! A God’s Lie was recently released to much good reviews. Personally it is also one of the thrash metal albums of the year that I enjoyed very much as well! How does the band feel about this? Was such reaction expected by the band?
Shubham (drums) – We have been performing most of the songs on the album live since 4-5 years. In the past, we have released songs like Black Fortress, Devoid of Emotions and Battle Cry as singles. So, people had a rough idea of what our songs sound like. We figured if we come out with an EP the album would be delayed by a few more months at least and there is no point since most of the people in the scene were well versed with our songs just by listening to us live. After this 5 year wait we wanted to burst into the scene with a bang and an album release was the best way to do it.
Arun (vocals, guitars) – We had worked our asses off in the last year to cut an album that met our satisfaction level and since this was a complete DIY project we had to redo a lot of things even a week before the launch. By the time the record was finally done we were hoping that the album creates a buzz locally in the very least and much to our surprise it did much more than just that. International reviewers have really taken a shine to our sound and the album in a whole and that has really set the ball rolling for us. We couldn’t have hoped for a better response and this has given us all the right impetus we needed to set our sights on the next album.
The band was formed in 2005, and A God’s Lie is the first release by the band. What was it that caused the 5 year wait, and why the immediate release of a full length album instead of releasing some demos or EPs first?
Arun – We had started off in the late 2005 and it took us a year to really get our act together and we had started making songs and playing shows by then but most of us in the band were pursuing a degree and in a place like India you cannot just drop out and be able to make a career out of metal music, even though we desperately wanting to do just that. Exams after exams we had to really bid our time before we could even think of recording an EP. With time our influences changed and became way more diverse yet coherent and that started to reflect on our songwriting skills. We wanted to wait to a point where we could call a song complete and that really left us scrutinizing every detail in the song right up to a year back. By now we had the right amount of songs and releasing a demo after five years of playing didn’t add up and hence we decided that we’d rather concentrate on a full length album. Much to our liking the people wanted that too.
A God’s Lie was released under Demonstealer Records, home to bands such as Demonic Resurrection. The band also mentioned about deciding whether to self-release it or not in another interview. Why Demonstealer Records, and what is it like working with them so far?
Frank (bass) – We have known Sahil (owner of DSR) for many years and were cognizant about his ongoing attempt towards the Indian Metal Scene. For us to finally release an album after 5 years meant that we wanted to rely on someone who we can trust and hence we always wanted to release the album on our own. Somehow we understood that releasing under Demonstealer Records was as good as releasing it ourselves and so far we couldn’t be more satisfied. Sure we do have our regular fights and arguments but in the end it’s always a win-win for both of us.
The album was fully recorded and produced by vocalist and guitarist Arun. What was the process like, and what was the reason behind doing this by yourself?
Arun – One of the main reasons for us to record this album on our own setup was the lack of funds. We never really intended for it to be a complete DIY project as far as production is concerned but since I had dabbled with the recording arts before I thought it’d be much safer and readily available for any last minute tweaks and believe me there were a million of them. It was a brilliant learning experience for me and I am really looking forward for more. The final sound though on the album was never good enough for me and that stretched on and on for a year till we settled for a sound that was closest to what we had in our heads all along. I understand that in this age records short of pristine quality is thrown right off the window but to my surprise people have taken the under-produced sound, if you may, rather well. I am not entirely satisfied with the final sound on the album and now, when I spin the album again I usually find more than a few things I’d change but that process was seemingly endless. The process albeit long was an awesome experience!
Let’s talk about the music on the album. On the album a wide range of influences can be heard, ranging from melodic death metal, Meshuggah-esque riffs to NWOBHM guitar lines. What are some of the other influences that are brought on board when recording the album?
Shubham – We are hugely inspired by Slayer for starters. Arun also took a lot of inspiration from bands like Hypnosia and Death and influences are noticeable in his vocal style and patterns. If you notice, songs like ‘Possessed’, ‘Black Fortress’ and ‘Devoid Of Emotions’ contain the major chunk of melodic elements in the album. They are also the oldest compositions in the album. Black Fortress has predominantly been written by Keshav. Those days, back in 2005, Keshav used to listen to a lot of melodic stuff….right from Children Of Bodom to Yngwie Malmsteen. Arun and Keshav both used to experiment a lot with melodies. We wanted to be as thrashy as possible but at the same time wanted to be a little different rather than sound like any other thrash act and hence, the introduction of melodic structures. Certain melodies will always make their way into our songs but it is not something that we specifically concentrate on now. As we have evolved as musicians we have found heavier, more brutal ways of sounding different. ‘A God’s Lie’, our latest composition is one example. This song according to me represents the band’s future, composition wise.
How about the lyrics? Do the songs on the album follow any concepts, and where are the inspirations drawn from?
Arun – The themes to the songs are totally depended on the vibe of the songs. I usually write the song first and then lay over the lyrics later depending on the mood of the song. Due to this reason, each song has its own flavor and thusly its own emotions. In this album, there are a few songs that inter-relate like New World Order and A God’s Lie. They more or less speak about the same thing in parallels which is the evils of ignorance; the evils of a pre-historic setup of our social norms and social deities. Some of our songs though don’t particularly carry any message. For example, Black Fortress is purely personal. Black Fortress symbolizes this place where Devoid was in a sense of way, born. It was where we all hung out, got drunk, played metal on acoustic guitars and talked about how in the future we will be giving interviews such as this. It is an homage we pay to that place through Black Fortress. Yes, we can get pretty corny about stuff like these.
On New World Order, the song starts fading away and a spoken track comes on midway through the song. What is the spoken track at the background, and what was it that made the band decide to include this in the song?
Arun – The starting track is a monologue from the movie “The Network (1976)” and it goes like this “All I know is that first, you gotta get mad, you gotta say ‘I am a human being, goddamnit! My life has value!’”. The song also features another monologue from the same movie at the end of it just before the clean guitars start off (the only time in the entire album) and it goes “We know that the air is unfit to breath, our food is unfit to eat. We sit watching our TV while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 suicides and 63 violent crimes as if that’s the way it is supposed to be. We know things are bad… worse than bad! They are crazy!…”. It goes on in that fashion till the end of the song. The reason why we put this piece is because of the hysteria that the mass media creates and how it is privatized and meant solely to spread fear; a tested way to control the meek populace that constitutes the media’s audience. The spoken track just before the midway of the song reads “It is the time that some of us woke up to this reality and understand that the people who try to maintain empires; create empires; do it by manipulating the people they are trying to conquer” and it is an excerpt from the documentary Zeitgeist. The song is titled New World Order, I think this should put together a nice little picture of the message in the song. The concept is pretty straightforward on this one.
The music of Devoid on A God’s Lie is technical, yet melodic at the same time. What are the musical backgrounds of each of the member, and how did you first come into contact with the metal genre?
Shubham – Fellow metal heads in our neighborhood introduced us to metal. At that time back in 2000 I think, we were still in school and somehow for the weirdest reasons, we got excited by the anti-social approach of metal. That was the beginning. From there on Arun, Keshav and I grew up listening to more or less the same bands. Arun was totally into Metallica and Keshav, apart from metal was also listening to classic stuff like Eric Clapton. Frank started playing bass when there was no existence of Metal for him and hence he was swept away by early Punk/Hardcore era, eventually moving towards Death Metal. But this one band changed it all for us …..Slaaaayyyyeeerrrr!! We just wanted to be as fast and as brutal as Slayer. The beauty lies in the fact that each of us had varied influences. It is not until we started composing songs that we realized our influences right from Clapton to Slayer, are making a mark in every song. Somehow, we were quite pleased with the overall sound and hence started performing these songs live on a regular basis.
The album features Goddess Kali on the artwork. While she is sometimes revered as a demon-slayer, she is also worshipped as a benevolent goddess. How does her image run parallel to the music of Devoid?
Arun – The face of Kali is a placeholder for God and why specifically Kali? Well that needs no reasons! If any Indian God/Goddess deserves a spot on a metal album it would be Kali and it is probably because she is so badass that she crushes demons with her feet, then tears them from limb to limb and then wears them as trophies around her neck while obliterating everything everywhere. Very metal. The album title “A God’ Lie” is purposely set at the tip of Kali (the goddess’s) tongue to signify the divine lie, hot and ready for selling and spreading.
Speaking of which, what are some of your spiritual beliefs? With an album title like A God’s Lie, do any of the band members believe in any higher beings?
Frank – Speaking on behalf of the band we only believe in what exists. We don’t believe in Satan too as we rather believe in something good rather than something like Satan. I personally aspire towards a world without any religions or such boundaries.
Arun – I believe that there are higher beings and not in them, quoting a cliché, if we are the only ones in this multi-dimensional universe then it is an awful waste of space.
For fans outside of India, how can we get our hands on A God’s Lie?
Roydon – For fans outside India Devoid – A God’s Lie cd which comes in a 3 fold digi pack containing a booklet with the lyrics of all the tracks on the album can be purchased from cdrack.in http://www.cdrack.in/devoid.asp They ship worldwide. You can also write directly to the band at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you shortly.
With the rising prominence of Asian metal in the international metal community, what are some of the Indian bands that you reckon we should check out (besides the already popular ones such as Demonic Resurrection and Kryptos)?
Frank – We absolutely enjoy Indian bands such as 3rd Sovereign, Exhumation, Scribe, Skrypt, Infernal Wrath, Zygnema and many more. I recommend all readers to Google these bands and hear them on their respective pages.
We have come to the end of the interview, are there any parting words for fans out there?
Frank – No parting words as I hope this helps us rather to reach out more audiences from all over the world. We thank each and every one who has helped ‘Devoid’ as well as helped promote the Indian Metal scene in any which ways possible. Keep thrashing it hard!
Thank you once again for taking the time off to answer our questions, we wish the band all the best in your upcoming endeavors!
Album Review: Devoid – A God’s Lie