(NCS contributor Siddharth Darbha returns with his review of a debut EP from India’s Blood Meridian)
Just around two years and a few shows old, Blood Meridian are the new kids on the block. They’ve got things to prove and stereotypes to shed. Elements Of Brutality is their first offering. I’ve always been a fan of anything related to words, and I fell in love with their band name despite what some would call a childish EP title. Initially, they gigged with a drum machine and a stand-in bassist, only completing their line-up much later and starting work on the EP in August 2010.
A first listen introduces you to a technical death metal outfit, quite a good one at that. The drummer, Pushkar Joshi, springs forth in the mix. He seems like he knows what he’s doing and he’s doing it good. The vocalist is a weird one — as in one would either like his vocals or hate them. Bhaskar Baruah, on the mike, tries very hard to cover a spectrum of low growls and high squeals, and though he pulls them off decently, there is a certain thrust lacking in his emissions. After multiple run-throughs of the EP, however, one would get quite comfortable with the vocals, too.
Aurko Mukhopadhyay and Anuj Gupta on guitars gel well and come up with quite a set of sweet riffs. Nile, Decapitated and some more bands influencing them, they sound good as long as one doesn’t concede to tagging them ‘confused’. The tones are rawer than one would expect in today’s times — the mixing is not up to the mark. The guitars are quite subdued and should have been, in amateur terms, louder. The bass, as fingered by Ashwin Shriyan, seems to have been almost irrelevant in the mind of the mixer, Arun Iyer (Devoid). Overall, it is evident that finding a signature sound for the band was a very involved effort. No lasting harm done, yet no cookies in place for the production either. (more after the jump . . .)
The EP rolls right into playtime with “Under The Butcher’s Blade”. It’s a beautiful track, with tasty riffs throughout. There is quite a bit of Nile in this track, though not of the same level of technicality. This is easily the best track on the EP and includes a beautiful outro, too.
Next up is “Coma”, which begins like a Decapitated song and then moves into a slightly more natural sound for Blood Meridian. This song would have been richer with better mixing. The drums and riffs roll together beautifully. The cleans in the middle of the song, and the solo that accompanies them, are point-winners. Great execution; and pure brilliance is the rollback into distorted haven that follows.
One can’t help but name the next song a brutal version of Decapitated. “Shadows” launches with a beautiful middle eastern intro with excellent and intelligent drumming. The song is very catchy and has a nice ambience underneath it. The vocals hurt this song a bit, as this is of the kind where the natural mid-level thrust is important. Surprisingly, the solo is buried much deeper in the mix than it should have been, hence robbing it of its royal nature. Towards the end, a very groovy riff pops up to please the crowds.
“Kill For The Lust Of Blood” starts off rather technically. A nice intro loses itself into some mediocrity and groove, but overall the technicality quotient is one-upped in this track. The vocals are way better in this song, which improves in the second half despite a mediocre solo.
“Spheres Of Madness”, a cover of Decapitated that closes the EP, was a very good choice by the band. They experimented with the song, and pulled it off successfully. They altered the tone to a great extent and played it faster, too. The verse and chorus sound brilliant in this tone, and they get walnut brownies for that sexy riff that appears in the outro. It fits so perfectly that one may wonder why it isn’t in Decapitated’s original. Vocals are not really gelling with the guitar tones on this track; somewhere up the line, it appears that Blood Meridian tried to make Decapitated sound more brutal. This is the track I listened to most on this EP — whichever way that may count.
In spite of following a couple of techdeath clichés, these boys deserve a good listen. I wouldn’t mind if they incorporated more cleans and experimented with their sound in the music to come. It would be greatly beneficial if the vocalist tremendously improves. Maybe eat more brutal food, like an iguana. The rest of the band will produce better with more experience.
With respect to the art, the band logo is a stereotypical reddened, gore-infested symmetrical thing. The EP logo, though not path-breaking, is rather good, especially in its execution.
Overall, Elements of Brutality deserves a 7/10 and a round of applause.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Elements of Brutality will be released by Demonstealer Records on February 11. It was mixed and mastered by Arun Iyer (vocalist of thrash metal band Devoid) in MotorG Studios, Mumbai. The artwork was created by Saloni Sinha (whose previous works include art for Amogh Symphony, Silver Tears, and Gutslit). Here’s the track list:
The band will be hosting a concert to launch the EP at B69 in Mumbai on February 11, along with Providence, Asylum, and Wired Anxiety. Now, here’s a track from the EP for you to taste-test:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/01-Under-The-Butchers-Blade.mp3|titles=Blood Meridian -Under The Butcher’s Blade]