Album Review: DEMONIC RESURRECTION Dashavatar
In my recent article about India's metal scene, Demonic Resurrection proved themselves as one of the leading contenders in the country via their longevity and experience including four previous LPs, many festival international appearances, and the Metal Hammer Golden God award in 2010 for the Global Metal category. To even further solidify their legitimacy as not only a legendary act within their country, but also a force to be reckoned with on the global metal scale, the group are releasing their fifth full-length studio album Dashavatar via Demonstealer Records.
Before getting into the nitty gritty, I find it necessary to address something I feel is important. Regarding America and Western Europe, the metal community has the luxury of heavy music being mostly accepted by the masses. Clearly, there are many exceptions to that statement as it can be frowned upon by the mainstream or pushed to the side by other more conventional genres. But for the most part, metal music has increasingly become less underground and taboo. On the other hand, the metal scenes in countries like India struggle as it is far from being embraced from society as a whole due to the extreme nature of the music. Although I do not want to portray a broad generalization for all Indians as their metal community is growing, the fact that many venues ban the style is evidence enough that there is blatant prejudice against metal bands. For this very reason, I have great respect and empathy for Demonic Resurrection as I feel that their choice to continue their career as metal musicians is a true sign of determination. Even if this style of metal isn't your cup of tea, their passion and execution of heavy music regardless of social taboos is an act truly deserving to be praised and displayed as what the metal community and mindset should be all about.
And before we get into the music, I think it's significant to mention the concept of Dashavatar. Full disclosure, I'm most certainly not an expert on Indian mythology, so I won't pretend as if I am fully coherent on this topic. Nonetheless, the over-arching theme is simple enough to comprehend in that each track is based upon a specific avatar of Lord Vishnu. While the notion to format a record where each particular track is dedicated to a character isn't completely new, I find it allows for consistency in quality and identity per song.
Finally, we can start talking about the actual music. "Matsya – The Fish" is so powerful, yet equally dark alike Behemoth's recent release The Satanist. On the next piece, "Kurma – The Tortoise" takes the momentum of the opener and unveils even more variety and dynamics. Songs like "Varaha – The Boar" and "Vamana – The Dwarf" at times feel so epic and melodic that they bear some resemblance to At the Gates or In Flames, however the group's sound still holds a unique flavor. They also expose a subdued side on the closer "Kalki – The Destroyer of Filth." Although I would agree that the overall center of this music is based upon death metal, the increasing layers of styles make it difficult to categorize the band.
With further listens, I found the subtleties in these compositions to be the key element. Although the majority of the material in these tracks reveal the deep growly vocals of frontman Demonstealer, I discovered many moments portraying less conventional vocal deliveries deeper in the record. In the age of stale guttural vocals, the addition of spoken word and high register clean singing can seem fresh and unique. Another subtlety that was impacting was the inclusion of Indian instrumentation. Perhaps the fact that the tones created by Eastern instruments are rarely heard in mainstream Western music allows for these moments to seem so inherently special, but the way the band blends sitar and percussion with their death metal is remarkably smooth.
Although the heaviness in this LP is immense, I would argue that the overall musical diversity is the MVP. With a range of vocal styles, instrumentation, and subgenre fusion, each track becomes its own distinct entity. I believe that likely was the goal that Demonic Resurrection was hoping to accomplish with these songs as every track thematically represents a different avatar. And while I do feel that each song stands strong on its own, you will find that a front-to-back listen to this album provides a dramatic and enthralling experience. In conclusion, Dashavatar creates a world where the styles of ethnic folk, black, and melodic death metal collide in perfect harmony.