At the 13th edition of the Great Indian Rock Festival — to be held at Pragati Maidan on October 24 and 25 — guests can burn their souls to the sounds of two international metal bands, Benea Reach and Intronaut. “Metal as a genre has increased in popularity over the past few years, but the definition of metal changes with every generation. Deep Purple was considered metal in the 1970 but today it’s called classic rock. Metal is a slightly harder music but it is getting its share of audience now,” says Amit Saigal, founder of the festival, which has showcased some of the best in Indian rock and metal as well as introduced international metal stalwarts such as Enslaved, Satyricon and Freak Kitchen to India. Benea Reach is a progressive metal band from Oslo, Norway, and Intronaut is a post-metal band from Los Angeles, California.
When the Eastwind Festival gets underway in January, the line-up will have its own metal feel. “Though metal existed even a few years ago, its growing popularity cannot be ignored,” says Adhiraj Mustafi, founder of Eastwind Festival, which enters its second year. Apart from foreign metal bands, the festival will include “bands from across genre and metal as a sound will have its own space.” Over the past two years, international heavyweights like Iron Maiden, Sepultura, Megadeth, Machine Head, Megadeth, Satyricon, Enslaved and Opeth have performed in Delhi , and in the coming months, we may see gigs by Guns and Roses and Textures among others.
Reuben Bhattacharya, bassist of city-based metal band Undying Inc, is on a high: “Five years ago when our band was formed, we would get five shows a year, today we get five shows a month.” The music circuit is abuzz about Rock Connect, a platform where Indian bands will play their originals to music industry professionals from Europe. “Rock Connect is intended to showcase Indian talent to the European music industry. Our aim is to get them to book Indian bands to play at European festivals,” says Saigal. Delhi’s growing metal consciousness is evident by the fact that the international delegation will comprise one of the largest booking agents for metal bands besides agents for the Bukta Festival in Tromso, Norway, and Jan Martin Jensen, the agent for the Inferno Festival. Rock Connect will be held at The Mezz and Turquoise Cottage on October 22, 23 and 25.
Delhi’s “metallic colours” can be attributed to easy downloads and YouTube where young listeners catch up on the latest in heavy metal worldwide, even as blues and jazz still languish in anonymity. Music festivals and shows such as Channel V Launchpad and MTV’s Rock On, too, can take a bow for keeping metal alive in the city. Shashwat Gupta, founder of the Grey and Saurian, a label that manages metal acts from India such as Bhayanak Maut and a Singapore-based metal band called Rudra, is upbeat about the rising metal graph. “The audience for metal has expanded. While the lower age bracket has gone down to 13 years, the upper limit is 35 years.” He points out that when Rudra performed in Dhanbad in Jharkhand in February this year, more than 2,000 people showed up. While Bangalore and Mumbai still attract global metal heavyweights such as Iron Maiden and Megadeth, Delhi has joined the party.