By Aniruddh ‘Andrew’ Bansal
‘Domination – The Deathfest’ is India’s original extreme metal festival, and it’s back for its fifth edition. This time the lineup features the comeback of Mumbai-based brutal death metal band Exhumation, with support from Gutslit, Witchgoat, Insane Prophecy, Orion and Atmosfear. The gig is set to take place at Hotel United 21 in Thane, Mumbai on March 10th. This gig will treat the audience with almost an entire day of true extreme metal at a meager cost of Rs. 250. Earlier today, I caught up once again with Aditya Mehta to discuss the return of Exhumation, his thoughts on the gig and the the old-school death metal genre, his new-found love for Guns N’ Roses, and lots more. Read the ever-entertaining man’s thoughts below, and check out the band and the festival using the links at the bottom.
So tell me man, how did you decide to resurrect Exhumation all of a sudden? I believe you were asked to play this gig by the organizers, but what made you actually agree to bring Exhumation back on stage?
It’s just that the timing was perfect; everybody in the band can make time to jam and play this show right now. It’s really exciting for all of us because Deathfest is happening after so many years. There’s no way we could have missed this!
How long has it been since you even jammed on any Exhumation songs, and what has it been like to practice those songs again?
We played only two shows after the release of Consider This, and that was back in 2011. Forget jamming, I haven’t even met the others since. We’re going to have at least 7-8 jams before we hit the stage at Deathfest, and we’ll be playing a couple of songs from Consider This for the first time!
Is this a one-off gig or are you considering a proper comeback for the band? If that’s the case, do you think you’ll find the time to handle Solar Deity and Exhumation together?
It’s a one-off gig, but I guess we’ll play a show every once in awhile if everyone’s free. It doesn’t depend on me at all – everybody needs to be free and up for it. Even if both the bands are playing shows at around the same time, I’ll manage somehow. Solar Deity is moving at a smooth pace and everybody in that band is on the same page, so I’m not at all worried about that.
I feel that the brutal death metal genre has been really watered down in recent times. It seems to focus more on technical flash and less on brutality. In your opinion, which bands and/or albums truly define the genre?
Oh man, there so many, so many great bands and albums. Can I just name a few death metal albums I really love? Deicide’s ‘Legion’ is my favourite; Morbid Angel’s ‘Blessed Are The Sick’; Cannibal Corpse’s ‘Bloodthirst’ is death metal perfection; and I love Deeds Of Flesh.
As we discussed in our previous interview, Mumbai hasn’t really had a big following for old-school death metal. Are you surprised that Domination – The Deathfest, with a complete old-school extreme metal lineup, is happening in the city at all?
It had to happen. I get headaches hearing and reading about the same bands playing every other show, so I can understand how sick people who love attending shows must be of them. Luckily, we have someone like Nitin Rajan who instead of sitting around and shaking his head like me is actually doing something about it. It’s amazing that he’s got all these badass bands together and has announced the return of Domination – The Deathfest. I hope he makes Deathfest happen every six months with different bands every time!
This might be a tough one. If you were to put on the organizer’s hat, which bands, Indian or international, would you ideally want to invite for your show?
Oh fuck, you’re making me fantasize now… I’d have a full-blown motherfucking extreme metal show! I’d request Blasphemy (Chennai) to reunite and play the show; I’d ask Vikram Bhat to convince Jimmy Palkhivala and get a lineup ready to make heads explode with Gruesome Malady! Who else? Gorified, Bevar Sea, Shepherd – all these Bangalore bands will thrill the hell out of the Bombay metalheads. Deeds Of Flesh or Cannibal Corpse to headline the event, because nothing less than the cream of death metal will do! If this actually happens we’ll call the show Kvltfest!
Would you ever be interested in actually getting into that aspect and putting on your own gigs?
No, I don’t think so. Work leaves me physically exhausted and composing so much music leaves me mentally drained. I don’t have the time or energy to organize a gig. Even answering your previous question about my dream event wore me out so much that I’m going to lie down for a bit now.
I have no idea what the others are going to do, but I’m going on stage as a death metal vocalist and fan. I think people should be dressed appropriately at shows because metal gigs are as (and maybe even more) important than weddings, funerals and dinner dates. We try to look like right for all these occasions so let’s give our music the same kind of respect! The visual aspect is as important as the music, and anyone who disagrees should imagine Cannibal Corpse playing a show dressed like they’re ready to hit the beach.
You mentioned how much you loved the recent Guns N’ Roses in our previous interview, and since it was an email interview too, I never got a chance to follow up on that. So I’d love to hear more about your opinion on that. What were you expecting going into the show and what aspect of the band’s show surprised you the most?
I went to the show expecting to be totally disappointed but it was the most thrilling show I’ve ever attended. I’d heard that Axl Rose couldn’t hit the high notes but man, did he put up a fucking show or what! I even thought it wouldn’t be all that great without Slash but those new guitarists kicked so much ass! It was obvious that everybody in the band was having fun, and when musicians are enjoying themselves you can really feel it. There were so many hot chicks at the concert, man – I didn’t know there were so many gorgeous women in Mumbai. I stood next to a few beauties and we all were blowing flying kisses at Axl. I’m telling you, man – I have never experienced anything as exciting as that Guns N’ Roses concert!
Are you a big fan of those types of huge arena rock shows? In addition to underground metal shows, do you think India should get more big shows like the GNR gig?
More arena rock shows would be cool but how many bands these days can pack an arena like GN’R, Metallica and Iron Maiden? Slayer got a piss-poor turnout, can you believe that? I mean, it’s good that the hipsters stayed home but the mighty Slayer deserve a packed arena, nothing less.
Has it ever crossed your mind to take your own bands abroad, or are you contented with life in India?
Well, even if I wanted to take Solar Deity abroad I’m not sure how I’d do it because I’m clueless about these things. We’re okay here but being asked to play shows in other countries would be so great!
Finally, are there any other projects in your plans right now, aside from Exhumation and Solar Deity?
Yeah, I’ve composed a single for my funeral doom project Heretic Magus which will be released through Nephalist Recordings and I’ve got a couple EPs worth of material for my non-metal band Angry Dwarf… the songs are sounding grungy and I’ll take this band live.