Indian death metal group Dhwesha released their debut album Sthoopa earlier this year. It’s a fantastic release with a great cavernous sound, and vocalist/guitarist Ajay Nagaraj took the time to answer questions for Swirls of Noise
Sthoopa is your debut release and it’s a great release of cavernous, exciting death metal, very impressed with it. How pleased are you with the way it turned out?
A: Greetings from Dhwesha! We are extremely happy with the way it’s turned out be. We have given our best as musicians during the writing and recording process. The final production is very close to what we had in mind before we started recording. We wanted to keep it as organic as possible and think we have managed to do that.
Can you tell us about the history of Dhwesha to date?
A: Dhwesha was formed in the summer of 2008 by Somesha(guitars) and Ajay(vocals) as a two piece band. We were inspired by the death metal of the early 90s and wanted to create music on the same lines. We had a basic recording of 4 songs under our belt which eventually ended up on our 6 songs demo tape Yuddhabhumi. It took us almost three years to complete our line-up with a very few lineup changes. Tushar (drums) joined us in 2011 and we have been playing live ever since.
The interplay between the rhythm and lead guitars on Sthoopa is at times outstanding, and for me one of the most impressive things about the album. What do you think gives Ajay and Somesha that great chemistry?
A: We think it’s one of the factors that make our sound unique. We have always given importance in structuring the song well. The Interplays add to the atmosphere and helps in setting the mood of a song in accordance with the lyrical theme. Also, creating a massive wall of sound which grabs the attention of the listener where it’s necessary for them to get the point we are trying to convey through the song lyrically and musically. We have had a good understanding when it comes to this from the very beginning. However, all the guitar parts were written and recorded by Somesha alone on the album. The lyrical theme and the mood set by the instruments have gone hand in hand during the writing process.
Do you have a favourite song from the release?
A: It’s difficult to choose one song. Each song stands out in its own right. But if we have to choose one song as a band, it would be Kapala Haara. That’s because it’s comparatively fresh, more intense and has a lot of variations and it’s great to play live.
The lyrics and song titles are all in your native language, what can you tell us about the themes behind the lyrics?
It revolves mostly around South Indian history and warfare, Indian mythology, Ancient Rituals, Witchcraft, Horror and Magick. One of our songs ‘Hoy! Sala’ is about how the Hoysala empire got its name which according to the legend talks of a sage who was meditating with his disciple Sala, a lion attacked the sage and he called on his apprentice to strike (Hoy!) the lion. ‘Ugra Narasimha’ is based on a story from ancient Hindu scriptures, of Hiranyakashipu, an ‘asura’ (Demon) who seeks Immortality and during his attempt to kill his son Prahlada for opposing him in his thirst for power, is decapitated by Narasimha (half-human half-lion avatar of Vishnu). These are stories a lot of people in our country are familiar with and as children grew up hearing/reading about. Magick and rituals have always been practiced in parts of India since the ancient times of which some are documented. The song ‘Sabhe’ on the album is a generalized take on this subject about a coven of witches congregating in a forest around a ritual fire.
Who would you say are the band’s biggest influences? You can hear a wide range of sounds on the album.
A: Our biggest influence is Bolt thrower. However, a lot of bands have influenced us over the years. Morbid Angel, Early Amorphis, Caducity, Benediction, Dissection, Candlemass, Demigod, Vader, Grave, Dismember, Early Sentenced, Early Katatonia to name a few. We are also influenced by a lot of hard rock bands of the 80s.
The Indian metal scene seems to have been picking up speed in recent years with more bands coming to our attention. Is this a new thing with bands starting, or has it been a strong scene for a while and is only now reaching us thanks to the internet?
A: Internet has certainly played its role in helping bands reach places. There have always been a million bands starting out here. But most of them have short lived. Only a handful of bands have stuck on for years and are now touring internationally. However, the underground scene is getting stronger by the day. With fests like Trendslaughter Fest happening from the past four years, it’s given us an opportunity to see a lot of underground bands from around the globe and in turn helped us spread the word of the underground scene/music through them. However, there are a lot of promising bands that are coming up, especially from the city of Kolkata.
How are the live shows in the area when it comes to crowds and energy?
A: It’s quite impressive really. You can expect roughly around 200 odd people at the local club shows that happen here. Its quite packed and the energy level is high. We have enjoyed all the shows that we have played till date. The response has been great.
What other Indian metal bands would you recommend to readers?
A: We would recommend Dying Embrace(Primitive Doom/Death), Kryptos(Thrash),Bevar sea(Stoner doom), Shepherd(sludge) all hailing from Bangalore. Necrodeity(Death metal),Armament(Thrash) from Kolkata.
What does the immediate future have for Dhwesha now that Sthoopa has been released?
A: We are concentrating more on promoting the album throughout India at the moment. We have a show coming up in December called the Dark days of December in Bangalore. We’ll be playing alongside black thrash metal legends Manzer(France) and other great bands from Bangladesh, Srilanka and India. Then we play a show in Mumbai early Jan. We are also looking forward in playing South East Asia the moment we get an opportunity.
And finally is there anything else that you want to add?
A:Our gratitude to Swirlsofnoise for this interview. Thanks for the support. Salutes from Dhwesha!