Stereotypes are made for a reason. They help in uniting people under one roof. But at the same time destroying them helps in dissolving structure and breaking boundaries that exist in this conflict-filled world that we live in today. It is with a similar onus that 4-piece Death/Thrash act Halahkuh began their set at the first-ever Indian leg of the internationally renowned and acclaimed Inferno Metal Festival that happened at The Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon. While not having all the grandiosity of an open-stage, the stage setup and lighting seemed to be top-notch.
Coming to the music, this was Halahkuh’s first show in Delhi. This three year old band from Pune had their wild side on full display as they ordered the crowd to mosh and carry out the infamous Wall of Death right in the middle of their set. If anybody deserved to play an opening slot after winning their way through a competition, it was these guys.
While the turnout at the festival was lukewarm to say the least, it is not surprising to see the reasons behind it. Inferno has always been the kind of festival that promotes and recognizes extreme metal, stays away from mainstream music and caters to a niche audience that appreciates and relates to this form of music, which is why it only attracts the most faithful of fans.
About ten minutes into Nekromantheon’s set, the crowd finally started to multiply. Packed with heavy, unrelenting riffage and pounding drums that would put even the heaviest of meat grinders to shame, these old-school thrash metallers from Norway blazed through their roughly 40-minute set to cheers, fist-pumps and general applause. Albeit a pause or two between the set, this three-piece act was all about the business churning out one fist-grinding song after the other.
Next up was Devoid. Coming all the way from Mumbai, the band set a precedent and a benchmark in terms of tightness and stage presence. Vocalist Arun Iyer started off with a particularly powerful statement about the state of politics and bureaucracy in the country, something that won a lot of cheer and applause. A good band knows when to talk and when to shut up and Devoid did exactly the right things at the right time. What really makes this act unique and different from the massive wave of other Thrash/Death bands is the fact that a lot of their songs seem to be strong in terms of groove and rhythm, something that tends to get overlooked in this genre sometimes.
Following the eardrum-cracking siege that was Devoid, there was a particularly long interval between them and Obliteration getting on stage. Bringing their brand of Old School Death, Obliteration played some skull-crunching riffs occasionally peppered with almost melodic vocals contrasted with heavy growling. The drums were unforgiving and brutal. All in all, Obliteration packed a powerful punch staying true to their name and Norwegian roots.
Finally, Undying Inc. closed the night with their signature brand of Indian metal by playing most of their old favorites from their album Aggressive World Dynasty as well as their newest single ‘Ironclad’.
To sum it up, while the turnout at Inferno Metal Festival was dismal and disappointing, the bands were nothing less than amazing. We keep the faith that it will return next year with even better and more interesting bands, hopefully a bigger audience and possibly greater uproar and noise because, let’s face it, if you don’t like metal, you’re just not ‘in’(telligent) enough.