‘Man’, the latest release from India’s Experimental Technical Metal quintet Bhayanak Maut, whose name was inspired by a Ramsay Brothers’ B-movie and means “Terrible Death”, is a singularly impressive and ambitious offering from all perspectives, from the musical content, a seventeen track offering, spanning the best part of ninety minutes to the accompanying one hundred and eighteen page journal, resplendent with illustrations, lyrics and a disturbing story line. It’s a conceptual, fictionalized account of the album and behind each track there is a dark tale that’s not for the faint hearted, a harrowing yet essential read as you listen, altogether demonstrating the level of thought and effort that has gone into the creating of this album.
Musically it’s a sonic onslaught that’s a blend of a broad range of metal genres, including technical, groove , progressive, death metal and grindcore , all seamlessly blended in a very contemporary way and the result is powerful, intellectual and harrowing, this album doesn’t push the boundaries of modern extreme metal, it removes them.
Worked into the mix are also experimental sound bites and the subtle and occasional use of vocal changing programming. The level of musicianship matches the level of skill behind the composition and the unaltered vocals are great also, broad ranging from a powerful gravelly growl to a roar, all well intonated, the drum work , as you would expect following crushingly technical riffing and gut wrenching breakdowns, is fast pummelling and precise . Sound wise it’s pretty consistent across all the tracks with this intense formula manifesting in a variety of forms.
Opening track ‘I Am Man ‘is a harrowing tale of a rite of passage that turns the boy, turned man, into a serial killer.‘ All Glory To The Beard’ is about no ordinary beard, this one is sinister, all powerful and all encompassing. I particularly liked the addictive groove to ‘Genosis ‘, It’s still of the same intensity as its predecessors with that technical edge but groovier and tells of how religious doctrine can be interpreted in the darkest of manners by the most insane of men.
‘Stage 1 – Trema’ is the first of four instrumental interludes, and is a gentle reflective keyboard and guitar based offering giving you time to consider what has passed and to prepare for what follows. If a track ever made you afraid to sleep at night it would be the next track ‘Perfecting The Suture ‘, the subject here makes bedding from human skin to attain a perfect nights sleep. ‘ It Knows’ could well be the equivalent of a love song, of sorts, a man falls in love with the huge parasite infesting his body but darkly witty lyrical content aside, it’s a catchy and crushing offering that makes for an exciting listen.
The bands namesake track, ‘Bhayanak Maut ‘ has entwined amongst the frantic punchy and addictive riffs, some great bendy bass lines adding a groove and a midpoint melodic element. It is a harrowing tale of abduction, brutal torment and death. By this point you are ready for the next instrumental, ‘Stage 2 – Apophany’ a guitar based and peacefully reflective offering, a stark contrast to what follows. On ‘Now, Creation, Forever, Destruction‘, a student’s harrowing interpretation of his art assignment is explored. I really like this track, particularly the contrast between the evil spoken vocals and the gravelly harsh singing which is powerfully drawn out to great effect and there is also much more of a groove yet the power and intensity is still maintained, a difficult choice but this is one of my slightly more favoured tracks of the release.
Another instrumental interlude ‘Stage 3 – Anastrophy‘ follows , then‘ XOXOXO ‘, a tasting session with a dark difference……. This track has superb vocal contrast between the high screams of “XOXOXO” and the sinister almost spoken growls as well as a lovely sinister groove, another standout track for me.
A more crushing intensity returns with ‘For Science ‘dark a tale of scientific experimentation and the vocals have a superbly broad range on this track, becoming almost bestial in places. Next ‘Princest ‘, Incest, matricide, patricide, it’s all there, alongside speed and technical riffing, bass lines that have a very sexy groove and sinister guttural vocals, the initial thirty seconds are superbly sinister and off kilter.
‘ Stage 4 – Consolidation‘ is the final instrumental interlude, it’s light, reflective and the calm that comes before the rapid tempo of ‘ Iku ‘, where an old man’s visit to the zoo reminds him of his time as a Japanese prisoner of war, a track which flips seamlessly between the pummelling and the technical.
An insane film maker brings reality to his creation in ‘Light Shall Conquer ‘ and during a poignant midpoint tempo drop a brief mid-point jazz influenced groove adds even more interest to this intensely addictive and pummelling offering, closing on vocals that emulate the deranged shouts of a triumphant madman.
The final track ‘Stage 5 – Residumm’ is an even more unusual than its predecessors, spanning over thirty one minutes and begins as an instrumental interlude but after a pause returns in a more industrial form, a contrast from its predecessors, along with a very technical, avant-garde edge, this is sandwiched between more pauses and instrumental segments, keeping you truly surprised to the very end.
After listening to ‘Man’ it’s hard to imagine that ‘Bhayanak Maut’ originally started out as a less than serious band until they reached the finals in a competition in Chennai, now they are one of India’s biggest metal bands, having listened to the quality and quantity of this independently released album all I can say is they deserve to come to the attention of a wider global audience as this is a hugely exciting album. Available from http://bhayanak-maut.bandcamp.com/
Review by Jools Green]]>