Since several viral Youtube videos launched BLOODYWOOD into the metal scene in 2018, the “Indian folk meets rap metal” group have been working hard as ever to establish their name as the unique and inventive masters of modern sound they are. In February, they released their much awaited debut album Rakshak, which has taken the world by storm not only with its incredibly fresh and engaged musicianship, but also with the visuals and music videos which accompany the work, bringing forward a magnitude of powerful energy that you cannot help but be entranced by.
Effectively weaving together sounds of nu-metal, heavy thrash, catchy mainstream riffs and most importantly, the traditional musical beauty of their home, New Delhi, BLOODYWOOD create a sonic marriage of cultures – and they do it in the way that works very, very well. They join a prestigious list of innovators by performing with Dhol, tin whistle, and flute, among other traditional percussive instruments from India. An intoxicating concoction of driven riffs, electrifying messages, and seductive embellishments makes Rakshak an utter thrill to listen to, beginning to end. Notably accentuated throughout by the playful battle between Jayant Bhadula’s potent vocals and Raoul Kerr’s meticulous raps, there isn’t a part of this dynamic duo’s game that will not keep you hooked.
Opening track ‘Gaddaar’ bares all, rhythmic flows driven by ritualistic forces bewitching me into the heavy metal mystique of the melodies. With lyrics which focus on themes of dictatorship governments run by hate-fueled leaders, BLOODYWOOD express many sides of their culture, unafraid to unveil brutal truths woven into mesmerizing art. ‘Aaj’ follows, featuring video-game-like electronic elements spinning in an Indian-Matrix soundscape, before a secret door opens behind which a beautiful flute solo flourishes, overlayed with trance-like vocalizations. What better to keep the momentum going than an epic ballad like ‘Zanjeero Se’, capturing the listener with a deeper taste of the aforementioned trance-like vocals laid on top of an otherworldly atmospheric background. This ethereal mood is something truly unique BLOODYWOOD connect us to with their music, making sure to keep us mindful even in more primal, heavy songs like ‘Machi Bhasad’, where chants, percussion, and chunky guitars are broken up with a soft acoustic episode before the wildfire engulfs us in its flames once again.
The band give back to their fans in more than one way – not only does the music breed a natural sense of community, but the members consider the wellbeing of this community above all. ‘Jee Veerey’, their first original song, focuses on the struggle of depression, and BLOODYWOOD made an effort to aid with those battling the illness by purchasing online counseling sessions available to anyone. They also purchased an ambulance for an animal shelter in New Delhi using money made on tour, inspired by their beautiful track ‘Yaad’, an empathetic ballad written to help deal with losing a loved one. BLOODYWOOD are not just brilliant musicians and performers, but class act human beings as well.
Expressive, spellbinding, folkloric and ferociously relentless, Rakshak is made of exactly what refreshing innovation in metal should be. Do yourself a huge favour and preorder the album HERE. Thank you to BLOODYWOOD for giving me one of my favourite albums to reviews to date.
Watch BLOODYWOOD‘s documentary, Raj Against the Machine, here.