- Date 16th June, 2012
- Venue Acharya Institute Of Technology, Bangalore (Karnataka)
- Bands Kreator, Suidakra, Kryptos, Dying Embrace, Albatross, Damagera, Eccentric Pendulum, 1833 AD, Crypted, Bevar Sea and Zygnema
- Photo Courtesy Soham Pramanick
- Event By Infinite Dreams
It was the 16th of June, 2012, and a real long journey from Kolkata to Bangalore, and truckloads of anticipation later, I was finally on my way to cover the super-massive Bangalore Open Air. The cool, moist mid-June breeze of Bangalore could in no way dampen the spirits of me, and the several other metalheads from all over the country, who were flocking in to witness the biggest Metal fest in India. Through the busy streets of Bangalore, at the northern end of the city, guided by road indicator boards carrying Kreator and Suidakra pictures, I finally reached Acharya Institute of Technology, the venue. As I stood there in front of the main entrance and called up Paricshith, one of the main organizers and my contact person, I could feel the momentum building among the black-teed people. Yeah, it was easy locating him because of his blue tee!
I was guided to the press entrance, where I was supposed to meet Ramya. She tied a press-band around my wrist and guided me in. I was of the lucky few who could carry a camera inside! The Wacken Metal Battle finals were about to start, and Crypted, the south-zone finalists, were having their sound-check. A look at the Ronnie James Dio stage, and I so wanted to be on it, playing my stuff!
Crypted started off with their set at around 11 a.m. Then it was the turn of the East zone finalists, DamagEra from Gangtok. There weren’t many people on the other side of the fence at this time, but the level of excitement of the few present, made it worthwhile for the bands. Last but not the least, were the West zone finalists, Zygnema, who eventually won the Metal Battle and will be representing India at Germany. Tight, power packed performances by these bands, and the amount of audience support they got, were strongly indicative of the fact that the Metal scene in India is looking up and how.Theorized, the Bangalore based Progressive/Thrash Metal band, was the last minute inclusion in the star studded BOA line-up, and they were the first guest band up on stage. They played a pretty decent set, and were joined by the vocalist of Escher’s Knot on their last two songs.
Next up was Mumbai based Horror Metal outfit, Albatross. They enthralled the audience with their unique sound, fusing various elements and their splendid stage act. I had heard their music on the net, and one thing I have to say is, I was blown away by the precision with which they played through the set. Very few bands sound as close to their records. Bevar Sea was up next. Their unearthly sound of Stoner/ Sludge Metal didn’t go down very well with the audience, but I, for one loved every bit of it. It was something really unusual that they were doing, but nonetheless they were great at it. Next on stage was the band I was personally looking forward to, Delhi based Black Metal band 1833 A.D. The energy level of the crowd was now really soaring. And right from their first song, there were random shouts, asking for "Who Will Kill The Emperor", their first hit single. The band started with their trademark straightaway assault, and the crowd went into frenzy. But the rise in momentum was halted when lead guitarist RahulMehalwal’s guitar string zapped and cut his forearm. He rushed backstage. The vocalist kept the crowd engaged in talks, and the drummer treated them to a drum solo, so that they don’t grow impatient. Soon Rahul was back with a guitar, and thanked Nolan Lewis for helping him with it. There were minor glitches in the sound, but nevertheless the band continued the carnage. They played tracks from their debut album "My Dark Symphony", and at the end of the set, gave in to the crowd’s demand of "Who Will Kill The Emperor".
Dying Embrace, the oldest and most veteran band was next. Hailing from Metal capital Bangalore, they are the forerunners of Death/Doom Metal in India. No wonder then, that hordes of people in the crowd were seen wearing Dying Embrace tees, with words "Carrying The Burden Of Doom" printed on the back. This was their 3rd big performance after they resurrected in 2011, and their first with Pritham D’souza on bass. The band stormed through their set, delighting the listeners with their own brand of old school death/doom, and man, do they have supporters galore! Vocalist Vikram Bhatt engaged the crowd with his energy and witty interactions. And no, the band doesn’t seem to be perturbed by age at all. Eccentric Pendulum, apparently the crowd favorites, was up next. By this time, the rain gods had decided to play spoilsport. As I ran for cover with my camera, the enthusiasm among the crowd was infectious. Not giving a shit to the rain, the crowd broke into the first circle pit of the day. The band played a brutally tight set, including tracks from their album ‘Winding the Optics’, and showed the world why they were the Wacken Metal Battle winners last year. It was starting to get dark by the end of their set. And it was the turn of Kryptos to take stage. Branded the flag-bearers of Indian Thrash Metal, they took the stage in their trademark leather jackets and denims. As the local pin-up boy Nolan Lewis took the stage with his ESP guitar that he endorses, the crowd went bizerk. Not into much of gigging, this was the right time and place for Kryptos to unveil a great act, as a follow-up to their recently released album "The Coils Of Apollyon". And with the darkness descended a large number of Metal fans, now making the venue look fuller. There were a couple of more circle pits, and the moshing reached meteoric levels. A fitting end to the Indian line-up of bands!
It was now the time for the co-headliners, Celtic Metal giants Suidakra to take the stage. They were included in the BOA lineup as a replacement for Iced Earth, who were forced to cancel the gig due to visa glitches. Owing to the huge success and fan following Suidakra gathered at the Summerstorm Festival in Feb.2012, the organizers zeroed in on them. But they weren’t taking the visa issues lying down. They put up a petition for signing at the venue, to revolt against denying visa to musicians.
The preparations for Suidakra would take a bit of time, what with the drum kit being replaced and stuff, and it was a breather for the crowd, as well for Anupam Roy, the man behind the flawless sound! Meanwhile, I decided to sift through the stalls, serving everything from burgers and pastries to rolls and coffee. And I got stuck at the merchandise stall! With everything from Kreator tees and key rings to caps and drum-sticks to Kryptos albums on display, this was a treat for the metalheads. And I had to stand in a queue to get in!
On my way back to the main arena, with a cup of coffee in my hand, I narrowly escaped being hit by a football…yes, Bevar Sea’s bassist and a few other musicians were engaged in a game of football! And then I saw Arkadius take the stage for a sound-check, and the crowd was now flocking towards the stage. I followed. As the bagpiper took the stage, he was greeted with screams and Metal horns.
To be honest, I hadn’t heard them before. Few weeks before the show, I told our editor to forward me some of their music. I liked them. But from what I saw live, I am now an ardent fan of them. They’re so lively on the stage, constantly engaging the crowd…they seem to enjoy every bit of their performance! Yeah, their brand of Celtic/ Melodic Death Metal, does sound much better live. Suidakra started of with "Over Nine Waves", and kept belting out their hits one after the other, ending the set with "Wartunes". It started raining by the middle of their set, but the crowd’s enthusiasm never fell short. They kept jumping and moshing in the rain, as a result turning the arena into a slimefest! Towards the end of the set, the drummer Lars decided to crowd-surf, once again raising the energy of the people. And now that they had the crowd’s support and attention, Arkadius announced that he’d be playing with Kryptos the next Sunday, on the eve of the Indo-German festival. This, marked the end of the wonderful, energetic time we had with Suidakra.
And now, the most hyped and most anticipated part of the day was approaching, when the mighty Kreator would take the reigns! The stage was set, what with "Phantom Antichrist" wallpapers forming the backdrop, and close to 2000 screaming fans on the other side of the fence. The excitement was palpable. Right from the organizers, the fans and the media, everyone was waiting with bated breath, to witness history. Suddenly, the stage lights were put off. And then, a mellow light descended on the artworks, and so did the intro of the album "Pleasure To Kill". The screams were turning louder, setting the perfect ambience, and wham!! Kreator started their "Violent Revolution. The crowd instantly broke into multiple moshpits, and we went on a clicking frenzy. The German Thrash Metal legends kept the energy levels up, following it with "Phobia", "Extreme Aggression", and "Hordes Of Chaos", which yielded the most shouts. The whole arena reverberated with Kreator chants, and it was absolute craziness all around. Kreator played an epic set, that was powerful to say the least. They ended the night with "Tormentor", another huge hit, and left the crowd with an aftertaste of what true-blue German thrash is.
What a day it was. BOA was a huge success. And respect to the organizers for putting up such a great show. The administration was impeccable, the sound superb, and the crowd had ample amenities inside the arena. The only glitch, in a stadium that could accommodate 10k people, I expected at least 5k of them. The crowd turnout didn’t do justice to the mind-boggling lineup of BOA. But nevertheless, I had a great time, and I’m pretty sure everyone present at the arena did. I can safely conclude, BOA was a truly complete Metal fest, and it lived up to the name of Wacken Open Air!
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