When I first heard “Panchakshram”, which happens to be the first song by Bhairav that I heard, it took me some time to fully understand it. And as happens always when I listen to a certain kind of music, there was an image forming inside my mind all on its own. So imagine having a bad, bad day at work, and you’re dying to get home. And while you’re still in the car at just five minutes worth of distance from your home, you’re stuck up in a massive jam that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Think of the anger and frustration you will go through at that moment. Now translate that into music with awesome drum beats and mind-blowing acoustics. The definitely head-banging sound that you will get is roughly what Bhairav’s music sounded like to me. Intrigued as to what goes into making music like that, I wondered if it could be possible to know it straight from the horse’s mouth. A couple of happy co-incidences later, I found myself talking over the phone, with their drummer, Shivam Gautam.
Bhairav, as their myspace page says, is a Vedic metal quartet from New Delhi, formed by four guys who share their extreme revere for Lord Shiva and music. It was first formed as Rudraksham in 2007, and its first performance in its Bhairav “avatar”, was on the 6th March, 2009 at Armageddon’09 Fest of Maharaja Agrasen College of Information Technology. The band has Chaitanya Awasthi on the bass, Mayank Kashyap on Indian percussion and the vocals; Saurav Babbar on the guitars, and like I already mentioned, Shivam on the drums. The lyrics are mostly researched by Mayank and Chaitanya.
Bhairav’s worship of the Gods of School Metal, combined with their obsession for Ancient Mythologies turns out to be a lethal combination which results in sound which is definitely progressive, Indian in essence, and yet manages to bring in influences of the 80’s Underground Extreme Metal Scene. So while on one hand they are inspired by Black Sabbath, on the other hand they bring in the spirit of Indian Classical Music as well. And if it could get any more unique, their lyrics are taken from Sanskrit texts. Take for example the lyrics of “Panchakshram”, which are derived from two texts – the Panchakshari Stotram and the Tandav Stotram, the latter being said to be composed by Raavana himself. Again, “Kaalbhairav” is taken from a shloka called “Kaalbhairav Ashtakam” which is an ode to Lord Kaalbhairava, a manifestation of an angry Lord Shiva.
It was but natural for me to assume that you need to have the fire of anger inside you to come up with music like this. However, Bhairav, doesn’t come up with music rooted in anger. They just happen to play for the love of music, along with their deep-set inspiration of Lord Shiva and Maa Kali. They play to excite you to the level which is obtained by making offerings to these deities. So far they have come up with three singles, with the fourth one in the offing. Bhairav has been primarily performing live gigs, and interestingly enough, has been able to attract a wide audience because of the refreshing fusion of thrash and Indian Classical music. They have been performing their own numbers, along with covers from a band called Rudra, from Singapore, whose bassist and lyricist Kathir has proved to be a mentor for them. They also perform covers from thrash metal giants like Slayer, and sometimes Sepultura.
On being asked about their memorable gigs, they mentioned the ones they performed in a pub called Chicane, for the preliminaries of IIT, Roorkee, where they performed Slayer’s “Raining Blood”, Rudra’s “Rudrapatni”, along with their own composition “Bhairav”; the gig in IIT Roorkee Saharanpur campus, on the 14th March, 2010, and finally once again in the Maharaja Agrasen College of Information Technology this time for Armageddon fest’10. However, they intend to focus more on coming up with singles in the near future. With the last two months being packed with gig after gig, the band will move to Pune in June, for the recording of an album called Indian Rock Revolution to be released by Seamless Records. Bhairav happens to be one of
the fifteen bands to be featured in that album. They also plan to release the extended play soon enough, to be followed by their first album, hopefully by next year.
In this day and age when music is undergoing revolutionary changes, and trends seem to be changing faster than the seasons, Bhairav prides on holding on to old school metal, and that is what makes them special. Being the only band which still plays 80’s thrash, they will always have a fan-following of people who have known and loved this particular brand of head-banging brain-jerking music. So here’s to the forgotten style of metal, here’s to the 80’s, and here’s to Bhairav.
Photo Courtesy: Nasreen Sultana. Nasreen is an avid photographer with interests in Event Photography and Abstract.