Heavy metal can do little in the fast-paced world of social media and new ways of consuming content on the internet. The guitar riffs and strummed vocals have no place among the dancing, viral challenges, and false positivity of TikTok and Instagram. The smaller bands, the ones that are just starting out, have less and less chance of finding their fifteen minutes of glory on the Internet, and even transcending into the mainstream. The latter, and to a certain level, is what has been achieved by the combo from India BLOODYWOOD, presenting now their long-await first album.
The history of this band is curious, to say the least. Guitarist Karan Katiyar had already made a name for himself on YouTube by uploading metal covers of Bollywood hits, but he was having trouble finding a steady vocalist until he met Jayant Bhadula. As BLOODYWOOD and as a duo, they began releasing their first covers in 2016. Among them one that gained some relevance: a reinterpretation of LINKIN PARK‘s «Heavy» in a similar style to the first two albums of the Californian band. Even so, they did not forget their roots and continued to release covers of Bollywood songs. For one of them, «Ari, Ari«, they had the collaboration of rapper Raoul Kerr, who from then on became a full-time member of the band. A story told to perfection in their documentary Raj against the machine. Look out for that pun there.
With a stable line-up, they followed the path of many cover bands and composed their own songs, which they have been releasing in the form of video clips over the last few years on their YouTube channel. All of them appear on Rakshak, an album that serves as a letter of introduction to a more than interesting proposal. Although they classify themselves as folk metal, their proposal has little to do with what comes to us from Scandinavia, and not only because they use traditional instruments from their native India.
In fact, their sound is almost closer to bands like SOULFLY than to ENSIFERUM, as the metal base of the band is closer to nu-metal, due to the mixture of rapped vocals (in English) with a more strummed one (in their native language) and to metalcore (due to the layers of electronics and keyboards that adorn some fragments). All this, added to powerful and catchy choruses, make tracks like «Machi bhasad«, «Jee Veerey» or «Endurant«, the first original songs with which they became known, the real winners of the album.
Even so, the new compositions should not be overlooked either. This is the case of the opening «Gaddaar«, «Dana-Dan» or «Chakh Le«, based on powerful and cutting guitar riffs mixed with traditional Indian instrumentation. This is also the line of «Aaj«, the second cut of the album, and the song they have chosen as the presentation single because it synthesizes everything that BLOODYWOOD‘s proposal is. Still, we also find calmer moments in which their taste for more atmospheric proposals comes to the fore. This is the case of «Zanjeero se» or «Yaad«, another of their old songs that appear on this album. They close with another much more experimental cut, «BSDK.exe«.
Fortunately, heavy metal is an increasingly global music and we find more and more interesting proposals coming from countries where just a few years ago it would have been unthinkable. Although BLOODYWOOD is not the first band to come out of India, they seem to be the most determined to succeed and make themselves known all over the world. Something that I am sure they are going to achieve with Rakshak, their first full-length, in which they show signs that they can become one of the top bands in the world in just a few years. And watch out, they also show that they don’t want to be a music band, but a movement in which they want to give a voice to mental health or to the problems of silenced people.
Translated by Irene López