Jun 142012

I’m no expert on India, and really, who could be? The country is so vast, its population so large and diverse, its history so ancient and complex, its cultures and traditions so multifaceted, that to me it seems almost incomprehensible. But though I’m no expert, I know from reading that it is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religions — Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism — and on top of that it has the third largest Muslim population in the world, as well as adherents of Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and many other faiths. Looking at it from afar, it’s a place where daily life seems dominated by religious rituals, observances, and traditions of one kind or another.

Heathen Beast don’t like what they see. They are an Indian black metal band based in Mumbai whose focus is on religion, which they view as a destructive plague on mankind. This alone doesn’t necessarily distinguish them from black metal bands the world over, but they have a particular focus on religion in India, which means that the object of their anger and scorn is not Christianity (as it is for BM bands in so many other countries), but the influence of more locally important religions such as Hinduism and Islam and what they perceive as the destructive effect of those faiths on the people, the environment, and even the animals of their country.

Back in November 2010, I wrote about their debut EP, Ayodhya Burns, in this post. Recently, they’ve released a second three-track EP called The Drowning of the Elephant God. Thematically, the title track is about the Hindu festival of Ganesha (the elephant god of the EP’s title), which culminates in the immersion of painted Ganesha statues made of plaster in rivers, lakes, and the sea — a practice that has been releasing a multitude of toxic elements into water systems throughout the country (according to this article) for many decades.

“Contaminating the Ganges” is about the pollution of the river Ganges — a river already filthy with raw sewage, industrial runoff, and the ashes of the dead — by the annual Hindu ritual of bathing in the river during another religious festival (a ritual practiced by more than 70 million people each year in the belief that it will wash away their sins). And “Bakras To the Slaughter” is about the butchering of animals in the name of religion, and more specifically about the Muslim festival of Bakra Eid, which involves animal sacrifice.

Heathen Beast’s mission is to produce a separate music video for each of the three songs on the new EP. Two of them have been released to date, the first of which was banned by YouTube until it was censored. These videos do NOT fuck around. They shoot straight for the heart of the matter, just as their music does.

The first video that was released was for “Bakras To the Slaughter”. That’s the one that YouTube banned until it was revised. You need a fucking strong stomach even to watch the censored version. What makes it particularly powerful is that it is composed of nothing but actual film clips showing animal sacrifices in India. It doesn’t take any editorializing to show this for what it is (in Heathen Beast’s view) — cruel and barbaric.

The second video is the one for “Contaminating the Ganges”, and it was just released yesterday. It is also composed of nothing but a montage of film clips, and it gets the point across pretty effectively, too.

The music is also powerful, caustic in the way of traditional second-wave black metal but fascinating and memorable in its incorporation of the tabla and ethnic Indian melodies. Heathen Beast write and play from the heart, and the strength of their convictions emerges in the music they’ve created on The Drowning of the Elephant God.

The new EP can be downloaded for free here or here, and I’m adding the SoundCloud player for the EP below the videos so you can check out the title track as well as the songs featured in these videos.

The “Bakras” video is (at least for now) airing in uncensored form on Vimeo, and I’m embedding that one first, followed by the censored YouTube version for those who may not want to take the full brunt of the original.

Heathen Beast – Bakras To The Slaughter [New Song] (Official Video) from Heathen Beast on Vimeo.




[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/playlists/2019100″ height=”200″ iframe=”true” /]



  1. dude..! not to be a stereo-typical prick, but isn’t animal sacrifice something which many scandinavian BM bands indulge in… 😛
    that being said, how is cutting up of goats on one day gonna be any different than cutting them up and eating them on any other day, its not like they’re cut up and then dumped into the garbage…
    Might as well start writing songs telling people to become vegans… lol
    Theory aside, their music is br00tal..! yesh…

    • I won’t pretend to speak for Heathen Beast — I don’t know how they would answer these points. Maybe they are opposed to the taking f animal life for any reason. For myself, I see the inconsistency, for sure. I eat meat, and I know there are animals being slaughtered somewhere out of my sight whose butchered and processed carcasses I’m eating. I suppose one distinction may be in the way in which the animals are killed (humane vs. inhumane), and another may be that in one case an animal is being killed to provide food and in another it’s being killed in the deluded belief that the sacrifice is necessary to appease . . . a fiction. But I won’t push either of those points too hard, because killing is still killing.

  2. Not to downplay the wrongs of ages past by the western churches, but Black Metal or anti religious music made by OTWs and about religions other than Christianity are exponentially more interesting than emaciated pasty white dudes shrieking about how Jesus is bad for you.
    This is brutal stuff in the truest sense of the word. Thanks!

    • It’s definitely a twist on the usual. Also reminded me (again) that the world is a very big, very diverse place that needs to be better represented by metal. Many bands (though certainly not all) from places way beyond NorthAm and Western Europe tend to sound very much like Western bands and deal with very similar subjects in their lyrics. It’s refreshing to see a band whose music seems very much to be a function of where they are from.

  3. Yes! I’ve been waiting for more from these guys since you last covered them.

  4. You’ve just got to love India, where nothing is ever simple and the sacred and profane are so inextricable. There is no doubt that Bakra Eid is brutal. But is hand-slaughtering out of faith in order to feed your loved ones and the poor more brutal than ordering a burger at McD’s with no thought for the suffering of the animal that fills your belly? Is purifying yourself in the filthy water of the Ganges profound or just gross? Why challenge the pollution caused by plaster statues in a country with no solid waste system? And when was the last time a black metal band actually raised real questions about the value of faith? Heathen Beast is as intriguing and confounding as India itself. Plus, great songs.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.