Extreme music performances are pretty rare in conservative Bangladesh, so when I learned that there was a mini-festival only hours after my arrival to Dhaka, I knew I’d gotten very lucky. The event, dubbed as the EP launch for local death metal group, Chronicles, but headlined by scene heavy weights Severe Dementia, had a bulging lineup of seven bands and was a big date on the local calendar.
After arriving, the people I spoke to were eager with excitement, many citing it as one of the most exciting events of the year. And these guys weren’t tag alongs, conversations about metal were exceedingly well-informed across the genre. Practically nobody was without a patched up jacket or at least a metal t-shirt, their choice of prints indicating a strong appetite for death and black metal’s classics.
The first band on the bill was Invo Chaos, a fairly grim, cloak-bearing black metal outfit from Dhaka. The vocalist, whom is apparently one of Bangladesh’s best and rawest, produced mostly blackened growls and a token few moments of operatic highs. Guitar and bass kept to their corners, leaving stage antics to the vocalist while they, as cloaked performers tend to do, focused on their technical proficiency. Their performance was tight and the audience were appreciative of Invo Chaos’s, likely rare, performance. I was relieved to see the vocalist produce a cheeky reefer on stage, which calmed my nerves about a country that is becoming increasingly ok with shooting drug dealers.
In a matter of literal minutes, Torture Goregrinder turned their backs to the stage while a sampled murder story and ominous static and percussion fed out the amps. They belted out some deathcore / grind with a hardcore like energy. Squeals and slams persisted, as did tech problems which bled into the blackened thrash of Burial Dust’s set. Nevertheless, committed to their set, Burial Dust raised the dead with some hauntingly dark riffs and disenfranchised enthusiasm. With boots, the evening’s biggest mop and a badass patched up denim, their vocalist is a strong contender for the subcontinent’s most stylish metal head.
Up next were EP launchers, Chronicles. Presumably with some fresh juice in the engine, Chronicles punched a lot of energy into their set with some pretty visceral death metal tunes. These guys double up as promoters as they also run Spiritual Deliverance Series (who organised the show) and uphold a fairly substantial part of Bangladesh’s metal scene.
By the time band five, Homicide, performed the magnitude of a seven band lineup within a 5 hour time frame was taking its toll. The circle pits of previous sets had settled, as had a lot of the audience who opted for the floor. Band six, Train Wreck, were obviously local favourites who brought with them some much needed energy. With cues coming from some of metalcore’s biggest players, these guys weren’t exactly my cup of tea, but I was impressed to learn that they had played Wacken in Germany earlier this year.
And then, the wait was over, Severe Dementia, the seventh band in five hours performed. With the unenviable final slot time, these guys mustered what energy they had and worked the crowd into assimilation. Fusing the heavily vocal brutality of old school death metal with the technicality of its slightly newer counterpart, these guys were a suitable ender to an enduring evening.
Having been largely uneducated on Bangladeshi metal, it seemed like the evening was a pretty good primer for the scene, even if the bands were exclusively from Dhaka. Interestingly, I learned that Chittagong, not Dhaka, is the stronghold of the metal scene and that a bigger and better show was happening there a week later, featuring special guests, Chronicles.
While Bangladesh may not be on any kind of conventional metal pilgrimage, extreme music has a habit of manifesting itself in unlikely places. Its existence against the adversities of religious conservatism, unwilling venues and disapproving parents is rather inspiring. Good work to the Spiritual Deliverance Series guys for putting it all together.