Somewhere in the Darkness’ by Six Feet Under, which was in 2005, must be the last death metal song I fell in love with. ‘Desperate Cry’ by Sepultura is the one song which led me to explore this extreme genre of music while I was strolling around 80’s and 90’s popular rock music. Although I am not a hardcore death metal listener, and strayed away quickly towards other forms of music, a few bands have always stayed alive for me. ‘Death’ is another band I came across through their cover of ‘Painkillers’ by heavy metal band Judas Priest. Although I listen to only a few of them, it wasn’t hard for me to discover that these musicians and the music itself are passionate, down to earth, and more expressive; in ways popular music will never be.
Extreme metal can loosely be defined as a term for a number of related heavy metal music that have developed since the early 1980s. Often, it is considered to be a cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal, and visual transgression. The term usually refers to a more abrasive, harsher, underground, non-commercialized style or sound associated with the speed metal, thrash metal, death metal, black metal, and doom metal genres. For a layman, the tree structured nomenclature of different genres of extreme metal music can be confusing,and the presence and attitude of musicians on stage can be misconstrued as being brutal or scary.
But, the fact is, extreme metal is one of the purest forms of musical energy, harvested out of sheer passion. Here’s a quote from Wikipedia:“Though many extreme sub-styles are not very well known to mainstream music fans, extreme metal has influenced an array of musical performers inside and outside of heavy metal.” While these forms of extreme metal music won’t be suitable for everybody, people have always been able to relate. Henceforth, these forms of music have traveled across the globe; Nepal is not an exception either.
The fourth annual Nepal Death Fest saw around 400 people in the audience recently this year from different parts of South Asia, including the country itself. One of the biggest events promoting extreme metal music here, the two-day event this year saw bands from and outside the country, including Warhound (Bangladesh), Corbata (Japan), Defeated Sanity (Germany), Snuffx (India), Congenital Death (U.S.A.), Discord, Nude Terror, Scutter, Error, Strangle, Rog , Desperate Mile, Corpse Sick, and Aakrosh. Despite the challenging weather conditions the show definitely took off with a blast, following the reputation of their previous editions that have always been heavy, no doubt about that. Brutal Pokhara and Extreme Underground Metal Society of Nepal have worked together for putting on a show like Nepal Deathfest 2017.
Vishal, one of the key persons behind the event, smiles with happiness when explaining how Nepali bands such as Nude Terror and Aakrosh put on an international-level performance during the show. This is also something he had hoped for, providing a platform for artists working on this form of music, while starting the first edition of the festival in 2012. The organizing team have been very active, conducting regular shows inside and outside the capital and bringing in various international bands, such as Dictated, for instance. Part of the funds required is also provided for by selling merchandises throughout the year. In addition, they have also been booking bands from Nepal to shows in other countries, which is something they are focusing on more right now.
While the bands that travel here for shows often get amazed by the humble Nepali audiences and the careful mospits they do, the traditional negative attitude of authorities towards rock music has always been bothering us. Adding that, due to the lack of good concert venues and the willingness of sponsors to get tied up with popular music only, Nepal Deathfest must be a seriously down-to-earth work at this stage. Concerts like these come out more as a celebration than anything else. This year, the festival even featured tattoo sessions and camping and short sightseeing trip across different parts of the country.
In the near future, we will be seeing Desecravity from Japan touring Nepal, thanks to the team behind Nepal Deathfest. Planned ahead is yet another show titled ‘Thrashmandu’ which will feature some of the finest South-Asian metal bands,including from Bangladesh and India.
Preparing well-documented press kits is something a band must have, explains Vishal. It’s known that we don’t have a proper music industry here, which in turn influences the attitude of audiences and musicians towards music. I am often left thinking how these people put up a show like this in the underground scene, and question myself if they even recover what they invest. Five bands from abroad, excluding Nepali bands, well it’s a bold step. And this has been a continuous task, the scene is aware of this.
The Nepali metal music scene has always been gifted by wonderful bands, musicians, and the finest audiences, but sadly, festivals and movements often die quickly. Calling everyone to check out what Nepal Deathfest is, if you haven’t already. Extreme metal is better heard live than on earphones. I’m sure we still remember how Vader sounded during Silence Festival, when I couldn’t even complete one of their studio albums.