Sthoopa is the debut full length album from Indian death metal group Dhwesha. After releasing a 6 track demo back in 2012, their first full length effort is a great release of riff heavy old school death metal with dark cavernous vocals.
From the outset on Sattvi Bali, the band showcase their talent, with a great melodic riff played high up the fretboard, before the band brings on the heaviness, playing that same riff down down an octave with more distortion amongst punchy mid-paced drums. With the two guitarists they have a great sound, their lead guitarist playing the lead riffs in a more melodic style higher up the fretboard, while the rhythm guitarist plays riffs with a great old school chunky tone, with a thick trebly sound similar to Asphyx. The vocals are fantastic, screaming away like a deeper, more tortured Chuck Schuldiner, in the Indian language of course, but it’s the production on it that makes it work so well. Echoing slightly, there’s a cavernous effect on the vocals, which range from more straight forward screams to brutal grunts.
The lead guitar across the album is fantastic, playing brilliant riffs across the top of the cavernous death metal sound, the cleaner pitched higher sound giving the memorable riffs a stand out feel. This is especially prominent on third track, the eponymous Dhwesha, (a track that begins with a great exotic acoustic intro) with it’s Entombed like lead guitar echoing the legendary Left Hand Path with it’s epic, powerful sound. The rhythm guitar is great too, delivering mid paced chunky riffage, much like the old school Euopean death metal bands, with a touch of Incantation’s brutality at points. It’s the interplay between the rhythm and lead that works so well though, especially on title track Sthoopa, with the brilliant solo being played on top of the main riff creating a great sound before plunging into pummelling riffage with pounding martial drums towards the end. Other highlights come in the form of Hoy! Sala with it’s great riffs moving between palm muted stomps and tremolo picked fury and the closer Kapala Haara with it’s varied riffs of different tempos and the twisted Immolation-esque guitar solo weaving it’s way through the middle of the track.
Overall it’s a really good debut release from Dhwesha, and showcases the strength of an ever growing Indian death metal scene. With the aforementioned fantastic guitar work, cavernous vocals and dirty old school production the band have released a fantastic album, and one not to be missed by fans of early Entombed and Asphyx.