For the Love of Metal
Every New Year we all share the same sentiment- how quickly a year has passed. It has, and we've had ample time to check out some of the best bands in the country. Avipsha Rayamajhi discovers that with the underground music scene still finding its way into the mainstream of the Nepali music industry, there are only a handful of bands defying the stereotype associated with heavy metal. She talks to members of three heavy metal bands that have been able to stand out as the best in the country.
For Discord, heavy metal is a way of life and not just a genre of music. Hailing from various bands, Bikesh Gurung, Keroz Shrestha, Uzwal Shrestha, Zaman Bata and Saroj Bade came together to embark on a shared musical journey and formed a band named Discord in 2015.
Gurung, the drummer of the band says, “We used to listen to a lot of hardcore music which influenced us big time.” The band is more into grindcore which according to them does not attract many listeners. It is an extreme genre of music that is mainly distinguished by its great speed, distorted guitar sounds and fast drum patterns. The name Discord suggests hostility. He adds, “We decided on our band name in response to how grindcore is perceived. It is not a popular choice for listeners since it is perceived as sheer noise.”
Since grind is about protest, the band typically writes protest songs ranging from social to political issues. Keroz Shrestha, the vocalist reveals, “We write about everyday problems from corruption to instability in a satirical form with the aim of appealing to concerned authorities to refrain from such behavior.” Their lyrics are simple with no trace of vulgarity and state the obvious as a sign of disapproval. This shows that if heavy metal is approached by surpassing the superficial aggressiveness and heavy noise, the listeners can come across remarkable meaning in their songs.
Although an official album has not been released by the band, they are working towards it. Shrestha informs, “We have a few songs about various matters such as education manipulation and the ineffective Melamchi project which we plan to record soon and come up with an album.”
The members agree that the underground music scene has substantially evolved since the time they started out. More Nepali metal bands have been coming up in the forefront with new albums and songs which has had a great influence on metal heads. The growth in creative platforms, events and improved venues has become a great booster for metal bands to move ahead. Uzwal Shrestha, the guitarist opines, “We could not really get that many gigs and decent platforms initially but with time we have bagged many opportunities.” With the upgrade in venues, the sound quality has also improved which the band takes as a plus point.
However, they lament the fact that the quality of metal listeners is going down. Shrestha believes that the metal scene might not have flourished in the beginning but whatever small numbers of listeners were present, understood and appreciated the music. In the current scenario, metal bands have seen a rise in audience size but the members mutually agree that most of them listen just for the sake of following the trend and are not here for the love of metal.
Further, they are also wary about how society misjudges metal and does not label it as music but noise. They feel that since it is not perceived in a positive way and is associated with a lot of stereotypes from appearance to substance abuse, they sometimes feel discouraged. They also think that there should be more unity among the various bands in Nepal for the genre to progress.
The band members agree that technology has been a great blessing to help metal progress. The quality of sound has largely improved due to the import of better equipment and the use of latest techniques. Saroj Bade adds, “Although expensive at times, sound recording has advanced remarkably as a result of modern technology.
Despite financial and social struggles, Discord plans to move ahead as a band. They conclude, “Passion drives us and we are not here for either money or fame. We just want to create quality music for a small group of listeners who actually understand us, and when we succeed on doing that, we will consider that our hard work and passion has paid off.”
Keroz Shrestha- Vocalist
Uzwal Shrestha- Guitarist
Bikesh Gurung- Drummer
Zaman Bata- Bassist
Saroj Bade- Crew
It is true that heavy metal is not perceived in a positive light by society or the mainstream media. When the audience is limited and music is misconstrued, a certain element of negativity definitely hits a musician. But despite the social stigma attached to the genre and the criticism that follows, the members of Nude Terror have remained unfazed.
The members are adamant that they are into heavy metal solely for passion and not for fame or money. Formed at the end of 2012, Nude Terror has been through the peaks and the nadirs like any band, but they have stuck together and followed their hearts.
Initially, three-band members- Anil Angdembe Limbu, Akash Lamichhane and Anish Malla- came together in the hope of reforming an old metal band of the mid-2000. However, the plan did not materialize due to various reasons and as the adage goes that ‘everything happens for a reason’, a new band altogether was formed. Bishal Pradhan joined as the vocalist and thereafter their journey rooted on shared devotion for heavy metal commenced in the form of a band that has made quite a name for itself in the Nepali metal scene today.
For this zealous group of musicians, heavy metal is about channelling their negative energy into positivity. Hence, they decided on the name Nude Terror which translates to ‘Nango Aatanka’ in Nepali. The band name was carefully chosen as sarcasm towards terror that so openly takes place in our society. Anil Angdembe Limbu, the guitarist further clarifies, “In our society terror might not necessarily happen in the form of frequent violence, but there are plenty of social problems that result in mental terror among people.”
They released their debut album last year, which consisted of 12 songs, all of which were thematically based on social issues ranging from poverty to rape. They primarily protest the impending problems through songs but do not base them exclusively around complaints. Limbu says, “Rather than only protesting the wrongs, we try to deliver solutions through our songs.”
Heavy metal in Nepal reached its height in the early and mid-2000s but the scene constantly fluctuated later. There were many bands experimenting with the genre and fading away after some time. There were not many large-scale platforms for heavy metal when Nude Terror started so they had to make-do with Do It Yourself (DIY) shows. DIY shows are basically small-scale shows without much cost or sponsors, performed in any available space exclusively for a small crowd. Pradhan adds, “When we started out as a band, we played maximum DIY and indoor shows which helped us get a lot of exposure.
They agree that the heavy metal scene has flourished since the time they started and it has been on the rise mainly in eastern Nepal. The emergence of better platforms and large-scale events such as the Silence Festival has been remarkable progress. The band considers performing alongside international artists and bands in the Silence Fest as a turning point which helped them gain additional experience.
Technology has left its imprint everywhere and a genre such as heavy metal has definitely not been left out. With modern equipment and gadgets, recording of heavy metal music has been hassle free. Pradhan adds, “With new software and advanced technology, the recording procedure has been convenient and financially viable as well.” Consequently, the final output is cleaner compared to some years back when it was raw.
Although time management is difficult since they are all involved in different ventures outside of their band, they do not plan to stop anytime soon. They want to broaden their audience and carry on with music until circumstances allow them to. As for their future plans, they are continuously brainstorming for new materials in order to release an album in the near future.
Bishal Pradhan- Vocalist
Anil Angdembe Limbu- Guitarist
Anish Malla- Bass Guitarist
Akash Lamichhane- Drummer
It cannot be denied that music is sheer perseverance, relentless effort and constant hard work. However, for the members of Screaming Marionette some elements of luck also came into play. Vocalist of the band, Nikesh Bhujel had no thoughts of continuing with music but due to various circumstances he somehow found his way back. After initial plans with Navin Khadka, the guitarist, they formed a small band. Initially, band members came and went but today they have a solid line up of five members who proudly recognize themselves as the Screaming Marionette.
The band started by solely doing cover songs in order to test their chemistry. Within a year and a half since the formation, they have successfully come up with five original songs. Talking about the band’s first eponymous song, Bhujel says, “We wanted to give a social message through our first song, so we centred it on abortion.” All of their songs serve some purpose either as political satire or by talking about corruption. The band wants to base its lyrics primarily on society’s mistakes and as a means to point out why they are repeated and still persist. It is quite evident from their heartfelt lyrics that superficially, metal might look aggressive and loud but it stands on profundity.
Being declared as the winner of the 13th ICMC was a turning point for the band’s musical career. Right after that, they were presented with many opportunities to play gigs and shows around town. Enthused with the emergence of such platforms that help elevate bands, Khadka responds, “Different events around and outside Kathmandu has helped us network and get a lot of exposure. We are being presented with a lot of gigs which is good for the band.” They recently played at the Silence Festival, an international metal festival alongside various foreign bands which they take as a learning experience of a lifetime.
The members agree that the heavy metal scene in Nepal has progressively changed with time. Since the time they started listening to metal during their school days, today they see many positive changes. Nimesh Nakarmi, the bassist laments that when they first started, there were few practice rooms available and charges were high which directly affected their live shows. However, with time, more practice rooms have emerged along with high quality equipment and sound systems.
With the advent of better technology and positive changes in many aspects, heavy metal has certainly been influenced. For the band, technology has made it easier to connect with international heavy metal artists and bands, listen to their composition and be inspired. The band members agree that for an underrated and misunderstood genre of music like heavy metal, technology has helped narrow down the gap and deliver it to a larger audience.
The band reveals that it is hard to sustain oneself through music and to top it off with a widely misinterpreted genre like heavy metal. But, despite the criticism and hardships associated with it, they stand strong on their passion for metal. With the zeal that they possess for music, they do have future plans, which include an album launch in 2018 followed by probable tours around the country. Hence, it is quite evident that Screaming Marionette is here to stay and to make a mark on the metal scene of Nepal.
The Line Up:
Nikesh Bhujel- Vocalist
Nimesh Nakarmi- Bassist
Navin Khadka- Guitar
Sajan Gurung- Guitarist
Sushan Gurung- Drummer