Heavy Metal in India
Underground Evolution (Part I)
By Neil Rego
India…a democratic country, home to 1.2 billion people, having a cultural history of over 4,500 years old and the birthplace of the Kamasutra. Who would have ‘thunk’ it or foreseen that a Heavy Metal ‘diaspora’ would take place!?
In the 80’s, when audio cassettes ruled the roost, (as the domination of LP’s came to a halt), educated urban Indians were excited about their awareness of 5 legendary bands: Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, The Scorpions, and Iron Maiden. With additional thanks to the NRI (Non-Resident Indians) relatives, who brought such goodies back home for their loved ones, the Rock’N’ Roll youth were being initiated into a realm of “Heavy Papa” and dazzling melody. The seeds were being sown in the underground. Whispers of “Bollywood Music sucks” were getting louder.
With the advent of the 90’s, the audio retail expansion brought an increased incoming of albums from Heavyweight metal bands, which were being displayed on shelves in stores. India’s head banging disciples, were excited in getting their hands on the treasure trove of cassettes and (expensive) CD’s -Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Judas Priest, Sepultura, Obituary, Pantera and other traditional NWOBHM, Thrash and Death Metal Acts.
The ongoing surge of Heavy Metal buzz gave wings to budding musicians in schools and colleges to pick up their instruments of mass aural slaying and form a band. The College Circuit festivals were soon blooming and rock/metal band competitions were at the forefront, introducing bands to the music fans, who proudly and incessantly performed covers, as a tribute to their Heavy Metal idols.
During these exciting times, the visual foray by cable network into the urban Indian houses played an integral role. Beaming via the MTV Asia channel, “Headbanger’s Ball” showcased heavy rotation of tracks by prominent bands such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Ugly Kid Joe, Sepultura. It quenched the much intensified thirst of rabid young fans, who would go out on a limb to miss their academic homework or chores or even defy a TV curfew.
Millennium, an Indian metal band, based in Bangalore, were the first evangelists of the Heavy Metal scene. Formed in 1988, after starting off with Iron Maiden covers at the Spirit of Iron Maiden Concert, the band released a 1992 single ‘Peace Just In Heaven’, the promotional video for which claimed the ‘Skull Krusher of the week’ award on India MTV’s ‘HeadBanger’s Ball’ show. This historical event raised a ‘finger’ to ‘naysayers’ about Heavy metal just being a ‘fad’.
……to be continued