Sheer energy, precision, thematic catharsis. Technical cerebrally-pleasing groovy music, or infatuation with gothic, macabre, and darker, heavier elements of the human experience. There are endless reasons to love heavy metal music. Metal in India itself has had an illustrious history, from acts playing old-school death and thrash to those mixing elements of progressive, folk, and classical Indian music to the genre.
Here are some phenomenal metal bands from India you should be listening to in 2023.
Formed in 2017, New Delhi alternative prog metalcore band Aarlon, blends mind-blowing metal riffs, post-rock style ambient arrangements with heartfelt clean, and growled guttural vocals. Aarlon’s lyrics are written in Hindi while their music sculpts the heavy with emotional depth. Their 2022 EP Dafan features both prog bangers like Rok Lo and alternative rock and metal songs like Saavan and Dafan.
If there is an act that has put modern metal from India on the map gloabally, it’s Bloodywood. The Delhi band had started making parody metal covers of popular pop numbers and then moved on to release their original music to much acclaim from fans around the world. Combining dholak, melodic flute lines, Hindi lyrics, rap, and chunky guitars, the band pioneers a blend of Indian folk elements and nu metal. With North American and European tours under their belt, the band shows no hint of slowing down.
Gangtok, Sikkim band Konflicts blends hardcore punk, noisegrind, and metal with ambient elements to craft some gut-wrenching extreme music. Their convention-defying performances have attracted attention from metalheads. Their music is definitely not for the faint of heart.
What Escapes Me
A phenomenal prog metal band from Kolkata, What Escapes Me’s music has djent riffs, clean evocative vocals, eclectic production, and guttural growls and screams. Putting in elements like the sarangi and tabla combined with mathematical heavy metal grooves and riffs, the band has had its share of experimentation. They have shared the stage with prog acts like Plini and Skyharbor.
Hailing from Thiruvananthapuram, Chaos gives a taste of modern thrash with groovy drums and heavy aggressive riff work. You can’t help but head bang and mosh to their insane speed power riffing and energy packed live gigs. The band’s themes deal with society, politics, discrimination, and religion.
Featuring doomy thrash riffs and drums with vocals from the depths of hell, Bengaluru death thrash act Inner Sanctum has been one of India’s premier metal acts. Lyrical themes like societal exclusion, political divisions, and rising intolerance are etched together with music that truly brings out an enlightening release in terms of pure heavy metal expression.
The Down Troddence
Kannur folk groove metallers The Down Troddence, have been one of the pioneers of metal from Kerala. Combining a mystical blend of chenda rhythms, double bass drums, sitar-like drones, chants, and chunky guitars, the band has to be experienced live to be truly savoured.
Gutlsit, the Mumbai extreme metal act is synonymous with guttural insanity and heavy technical finesse. With some lineup changes, the band stays as relevant as ever. Incorporating industrial, synth, and string sections in their last record, their live performances are looked forward to in the Indian metal scene.
Bengaluru metal act Ksetravid combines progressive with technical death metal, serving clean and growled vocals with polyrhythmic drum grooves. Their lyrics cover apocalyptic critiques of religion and society among other social commentary. Mixing melodic with brutal elements, the band features a lineup of musicians from varied rock, metal, and jazz backgrounds.
Needing no introduction, Mumbai veterans Bhayanak Maut have been serving tasty aggressive metal for the last two decades. After Aman Virdi from bands like Noiseware took up vocal duties when twin vocalists Vinay Venkatesh and Sunneith Revankar departed, the band has released a string of heavy-hitting singles, while continuing to be a live act which make the skies tear open.
From Kathmandu, Nepal, Underside is a tour de force that must be seen to be believed. From gracing stages like NH7 to having toured Hong Kong, Australia, and Europe, their live performances combine folk elements with death thrash metal.
This prog rock and metal band from Lahore, Pakistan had taken our breaths away with a fresh sound on their record Acrophase. Combining electronic synths, dual vocals with some tasty djent guitar and polyrhythmic drum goodness, the band has it all. They have collaborated with Indian artists like Keshav Dhar, Gaurav Basu, and Yatin Srivastava.