Unpopular Metal Opinions – #1

Shouting out the opinions you won’t say out loud. This week: the 90s, Morbid Angel, Sepultura, and Meshuggah.

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With Metal comes passion, followed by analysis, followed by debates and disagreements, followed by a furious hornet’s nest of opinions.

Sardonic jokes aside, our passion to debate and defend Metal music is what makes it so interesting. But lately, it seems there are a lot of blanket opinions and ‘accepted truths’ on bands, albums, or eras of music that metalheads simply refuse to budge on. Make the slightest effort to challenge these assumptions, and you’ll probably be looked down upon like a Limp Bizkit fan at a Kreator concert — which is why a good number of us just shut up and nod along.

BUT, where’s the fun in that? With courage in my heart, steel in my balls and a lack of original ideas in my mind, here are my Unpopular Metal Opinions.


‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ is a GOOD Morbid Angel album

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BOY, are the Death Metal purists going to come after me for this.

‘Illud Divinum Insanus’ had a lot riding on it before its release, and a lot more going against it. It was the first Morbid album since 1995 to have David Vincent on vocals, the first album in almost 10 years since 2003’s ‘Heretic’, and the first not to feature long-time drummer Pete Sandoval. Moreover, fans had a sneaking suspicion that Vincent would bring over some Industrial influences from his wife’s band Genitorturers, which was confirmed as soon as they heard “Radikult” and “Destructos vs. the Earth” from the new album. And thus began the critical paddling session on this release, which continues to this day.

But here’s my rub: ‘Illud…’ is a classic example of an album misjudged by just a few of its songs. “Radikult” and “Destructos…” were destined to screw with Death Metal fans, but other tracks like “Nevermore”, “Existo Vulgoré” and “Blades for Baal” are sharp, brutal and heavy turn-of-the-century Morbid Angel. David Vincent’s vocals have never sounded better, and for all the shade thrown at the album’s drum-sampling, drummer Tim Yeung is certainly no slouch behind the skins. While it’s true that this album doesn’t have the dense layers and dark atmosphere of classics such as ‘Altars of Madness’ or ‘Domination’, it’s a perfectly serviceable Morbid album with its own sound, that doesn’t deserve its pariah status.

 

The experimental 90s NEEDED to happen

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Very few look back fondly on the dreaded 90s — when basically all the bands behind the ‘classic’ rock and metal sound moved as far away from it as they could. From Metallica and Iron Maiden to Judas Priest and Kreator, every one of them it seemed, had deserted the faith and bowed down to ‘popular trends’. But let’s look at this another way.

This experimental phase may not have been good for the old-school fans, but it did bring in a new group of alternative fans who could then backtrack to their classic material. There are a number of metalheads today who opine that their favourite band’s first album (and perhaps their first Metal experience itself) was something like Metallica’s ‘Black Album’, Iron Maiden’s ‘X-factor’, Kreator’s ‘Outcast’, or Testament’s ‘Demonic’. And that’s perfectly fine.

Moreover, it’s just a fact that every musical group wants to experiment with different styles. It’s part and parcel of being a musician in any genre. It was better for these bands to get all this experimentation out of their system in the 90s, when the Internet was still too primitive to provide the opinion boombox we have today. And more often than not, they then entered the 2000s with renewed perspective and returned to their classic sound — now with the support of both old-school and 90s fans on a more connected Internet. Could you imagine if say, Megadeth threw the curveball that was ‘Risk’ in the late 2000s or even now? The backlash would definitely be more intense, and even career-changing.

 

Derrick Green’s Sepultura is GOOD

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It seems that Sepultura will never escape the shadow of Max Cavalera, with persistent fans screaming that the band basically died with his departure. Truth is, Sepultura didn’t die — they just became different. And ‘different’ can be good.

While it can be said that their 2000s material just doesn’t hold up to classics like ‘Beneath the Remains’ and ‘Chaos A.D.’, it is fascinatingly different from anything the Cavaleras have ever put out. One thing that has always defined Max in any project is his primal intensity, fuelled by years of living in poverty and police brutality in Brazil. He writes in-your-face metal with simple lyrics, and rarely aspires to any high-minded concepts — and in most cases, we love him for that. Sepultura’s ‘Caval-era’ was the purest distillation of that anger, with the musical experimentation between ‘Arise’ and ‘Roots’ simply sweetening the deal.

But not so, post-90s Sepultura. With Andreas Kisser largely helming creative control, the band began to dig into more sophisticated themes. Sepultura has so far borrowed from works such as ‘The Divine Comedy’ (‘Dante XXI’), ‘A Clockwork Orange’ (‘A-lex’), and the German Expressionist masterpiece ‘Metropolis’ (‘The Mediator between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart’). Talk about heavy-handed! Could you seriously imagine the Cavaleras going along with all this if they were still in the band today?

And besides, we’re seeing a great turnaround in Sepultura since 2011’s ‘Kairos’. ‘The Mediator…’ was subsequently better than anyone expected, even with its preposterously long title and slightly muddy production by Ross Robinson. And if this new track from their upcoming album ‘Machine Messiah’ is anything to go by, Sepultura might just strike the remaining haters down with a vengeance.

 

The 90s were the best years for Heavy Metal

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Look, I get it. The 80s was a golden period for Metal, with the trio of Glam, Thrash, and NWOBHM dominating popular music in a way that has never been seen to this day. But as big as they were, Metal’s true global expansion only came in the 90s.

Death Metal emerged from Florida and Sweden courtesy bands such as Death and Entombed, Black Metal broke out of Norway in a flurry of church-burnings, Death/Doom and Gothic Metal made proliferated through the ‘Peaceville Three’ (Anathema, Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride), Death Metal further received a melodic treatment through the ‘Gothenburg Three’ (In Flames, Dark Tranquillity, and At the Gates), Industrial Metal started its journey with bands like Fear Factory and Ministry, and Pantera basically set the blueprint for the new wave of American Metal that would follow in the 2000s! And I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting a few more beloved subgenres that were established in this decade.

The point is, Heavy Metal’s genesis and high point may have been in the late 70s and early 80s, but to label the decade that came after it as the ‘worst years for Metal’ just because of the Alternative boom, is sheer lunacy.

 

Meshuggah are stagnating

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Meshuggah have had the same sound for 25 years. There, I said it.

Don’t get me wrong — I LOVE Meshuggah, and their’s are some of the most frequent songs on my playlist! It’s just that ever since the release of their new album ‘The Violent Sleep of Reason’, their music has sort of blended together into a homogenous brew of palm-muted riffs and erratic tempos.

In fact, it can be said that Meshuggah have taken just one sound through slightly different styles — the quasi-thrash of ‘Contradictions Collapse’, the fully-formed extreme-prog style of ‘Destroy Erase Improve’ and ‘Chaosphere’, the down-tuned grooves and polyrhythms of ‘Nothing’ and ‘Catch Thirtythree’, and the mélange of all these influences in ‘obZen’ and ‘Koloss’. And after all this, ‘The Violent Sleep…’ just seems to be a modern update of what they already did in the 90s.

So, where else could they possibly go from here? Their sound is all well and good, but they’ve never really shown any proclivity to go “full Prog” — like say, with keyboards and other instruments, or a completely different change in sound á la Opeth. Plus, they’ve got a fanatical fanbase who are perfectly fine with enabling their same old chug-a-chug sound for another 25 years. This, inevitably leads to stagnation in any band.

I don’t want Meshuggah to get stale like that, and I’m pretty sure you don’t either. I personally would be down to hear a symphonic, prog-rock, or industrial Meshuggah — if only to prevent them from being a victim of their own sound.

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Unpopular Metal Opinions – #1

In Conversation: JARED SANDHY of FINAL SURRENDER

On the band’s new album ‘Nothing but Void’, their music and its ‘Christian’ themes, his other projects, and much more.

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Metalcore acts are a dime a dozen in today’s Indian metal scene. As a result, it takes some truly great music and showmanship to stay ahead of the palm-mute chugging pack. And Final Surrender from Bangalore have those in spades.

After six years as a band and two albums (the second distributed through US-based Rottweiler Records), Final Surrender’s ambitions haven’t dimmed a bit — this is especially apparent in their new album ‘Nothing but Void’, which has built on their signature sound and been supported through some successful national shows so far!

Centuries of Sin thus had a chat with co-founder and drummer Jared Sandhy on the new album and the band’s future, as well as his side- and solo projects, and his journey from one Christian-themed band in his past to Final Surrender now!


Hi, Jared! Thank you so much for talking to Centuries of Sin. How’re you doing?

Doing very well, thanks!

 

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Final Surrender in 2016 | Image: Facebook

Well, we’re finally on the new Final Surrender album, ‘Nothing but Void’! And I have to say that it sounds CRACKING so far. How have your fans responded to the new material in your first leg of touring?

The album is probably one of the best we’ve written till date, and the crowd on tour so far has been enjoying it and have had really good things to say about the record.

 

What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed in your music and yourselves between ‘Empty Graves’ and the new album?

‘Empty Graves’ is definitely the album that got a lot of people talking about Final Surrender. It was intentional to that direction of sound we took as a band to experiment with Indian instrumentation and arrangements, though it was very appropriate to what I had in mind from when the songs were being written to when they were recorded. And yes, the album is probably gonna get a remaster done in terms of production, as it never really turned out the way I imagined with regard to the sound. This time around, it will be me completely handling the production aspect as I did for ‘Nothing but Void.’

 

From what I’ve heard of the album so far, ‘Nothing but Void’ seems to be making a shift from more orchestral elements in the music to more electronic and synths — especially since your one-off single “Smyrna” last year. Do you think that’s a fair assessment?

It’s because we never really follow a set of rules. We wrote things apt for the record and the sound it curbed its way into. ‘Nothing but Void’ is more along the lines of our 2010 debut release ‘The Expanse’ in relation to song-writing and production. A very raw, melodic, groovy, progressive, metalcore Final Surrender, so to speak. “Smyrna” was a single derived out of the songs we had compiled during the writing process of ‘Nothing but Void’ in the beginning of 2015. In fact, we had more than 15 songs from which seven are now part of the current album.

 

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Besides the usual themes associated with metalcore, I’ve noticed that a number of fans see a Christian theme in your music. Do you agree with this? And if so, how much of that theme do think permeates your music?

We write about what we believe in. We definitely are all practicing Christians and our faith is in Jesus Christ, but we don’t necessarily base songs off of scripture or Biblical references. We write about what we experience or what inspires us in the moment, or the specific lyrical theme/concept of the record. In this case, ‘Nothing but Void’ speaks about the void one finds oneself in because of an understanding of life obsessed to one’s own ways, and finally meeting only a scenario of running into a big black hole. Many live lives like this.

 

You’re a pretty hyperactive worker in projects outside Final Surrender as well — Mute the Saint, Day of Reckoning, and now your own solo material as well! How in God’s name do you manage to devote your time and energies to all this music?

It’s music and only music that drives me, man. Anything to do with music, I love and believe in. So there can’t be excuses and reasons to put it away or not find time for it. It’s a musician’s job to keep up to schedule and do things actively if he or she is passionate and really wants to contribute to the world of music. On the other hand, some exciting stuff is coming up with my other two bands, too. Mute The Saint is releasing its first self-titled debut record on December 1st this year. This is one of a kind, as it’s officially the first Indian instrumental Sitar-based Progressive metal album in the world. This release will be supported by Metal Injection and other big magazines.

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Jared with Rusty Cooley [far right] and his band Day of Reckoning | Image: Facebook
Day of Reckoning being one of my favorite projects is also in the production stage for our record ‘Into the Fire’. I finished tracking drums for it in Houston, Texas earlier this year before we went out on tour, and also had the opportunity to share the stage with Alter Bridge last month for their CD release show in Dallas’ House of Blues. Our record is a brutal, face-thumping 40 minutes of metal from start to end. We’re scheduled for some tour dates in USA and India early next year to support the release of the record.

Final Surrender is also finishing up its run of shows this month to have a small break for Christmas with family and stuff. Meanwhile, I have my solo stuff in the pre-production stage, and I am planning yo release it early next year too. So 2017 is gonna have some music coming in from all the projects I’m part of!

 

Touching on Day of Reckoning a bit, tell us the story of how you connected with Rusty Cooley and how jamming with him was!

So, my drum endorsers DDrum hit me up about Rusty Cooley auditioning for a drummer. And I gave it a shot, and was selected out of the 50 odd drummers around the world who auditioned. I then happened to discuss things with Rusty via Skype, got the paperwork sorted, and finally got to the US to rehearse and write music with the man. a couple of months later performed around the States and in the process recorded for our upcoming record. Working with one of the best guitarists in the world was amazing, also because apart from being an awesome guitar player focused on his music and instrument, he also happens to be really down-to-earth and an amazing friend to me. Rusty also happens to be a tutor to guitar legends like John Petrucci, Mark Tremonti, Karl Sanders, Oli Herbert and other guitar players, so as jaw-dropping as all of this sounds, it’s an awesome feeling to play with some of the best musicians living today. So with a jam schedule of 4-5 hours a day, we happen to be bringing some really interesting music next year for all the music lovers out there.

Your solo track “Love is” is a pretty straightforward, groovy metal track as opposed to the technical and progressive music you’re normally part of. If you take your solo music forward into an album or EP, how different or unique would you it to be from everything you’ve done so far?

The sound and direction in terms of technicality or progressiveness on my solo record is already decided. It’s gonna be different. Each song will have its flavour, and that’s what will make it unique.

It’s gonna be anything between Alternative metal, Progressive metal, and even Ambient music.

 

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Digging a bit deeper into your past, you started drumming with your very first band Slain at only 13 years old if I’m not wrong! Drumming and recording material at such a young age must’ve been quite something!

Yes, Slain was one of the bands that started it off for me. I still remember being in school for my boards and having to finish my exam and run to sound-check at Palace Grounds – the venue that used to host some of the most iconic independent and international festivals in Bangalore – because Slain opened for Iron Maiden that day! I had definitely committed to the music I was doing and compromised and sacrificed a lot of things young kids do at that age for music and drumming. I used to practice 5-6 hours a day, with no drumkit and at times, broken sticks found backstage which I taped together. I remember being awarded for ‘Best Drummer’ at NLS Strawberry Fields when I was 14, competing with some of the best acts in the country today. So yeah, all of this had led to this road and journey. And I always believe there is no stopping yourself in this industry, and that you have to keep pressing on!

 

Finally, tell us what’s on the cards for Final Surrender in the near future.

A worldwide release via our label in January next year. And hopefully some international dates, too!

 

Thanks for talking to us, Jared! We wish you and Final Surrender the best of luck for the new album and a future of great music!


Catch Final Surrender on – 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/finalsurrender/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/finalsurrender
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrBc7xLR6cfYaS0d2dTduVA

In Conversation: JARED SANDHY of FINAL SURRENDER

In Conversation: India’s METAL DISTRO’s

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When it comes to supporting the scene, we mostly think of supporting bands and artists. But what about the individuals who give us the music we love and the threads we wear? Those who go above and beyond to import and supply the best International CDs, vinyls, and merchandise? This feature is dedicated the cottage industry within the cottage industry of Indian metal — the Distro’s!

Centuries of Sin caught up with the owners of three of the most prolific and respected Distributors in the country — Ulf Bankemper of Metal Masala, Brijraj Agarwal of Slaytanic Distro, and Farzand Ali Bawa of The Hellion Distro — to talk about all things related to the business. Read on as these three “Metal entrepreneurs” talk about their journey so far, the perks and difficulties of running a distro, interacting with record labels and suppliers, the prevalence of bootlegged merchandise, and much more!


Greetings from Centuries of Sin, and thanks for talking to us! How’re you doing?

Ulf: Thank you for the interview! I am doing well; hope everything is fine on your end as well.

Brijraj: Hello, Sairaj! I am doing very good, thank you for asking. Hope you are doing better! Thanks for thinking of listening to me blabber on!

Farzand: Hi Sairaj, I am doing well. Thanks for the interview, and interest in The Hellion Distro!

 

First off, tell us about how you started your distro, and your journey so far!

Ulf: I started preparing for Metal Masala in February 2014, and managed to be online on February 15. The time in between was spent discussing the idea of starting a distro. Incidentally, Vikram (Bhat) of Mahatobar Distribution was the guy I wanted to get an OK from, as he is one of the guys (along with Sandesh (Shenoy) of Cyclopean Eye Productions, and Kryptos among others) who I have respected for the hard work he has put into the music for a long time. He and the other guys were my inspiration in wanting to contribute to the Indian metal scene.

The most difficult part was organizing all the required government permits and registrations. It’s amazing how much time those can take! Getting the logo designed and the web site running took some effort too, but I thought that if I want to start this venture, I might as well do it properly.

Making contacts for MM was relatively easy; a lot of labels, especially the smaller ones, have been very supportive. I made a lot of new contacts and friends among the metalheads, bands, labels, etc.

Clockwise from L-R: Brijraj Agarwal, Ulf Bankemper, Farzand Ali Bawa | Images: Facebook
Clockwise from L-R: Brijraj Agarwal, Ulf Bankemper, Farzand Ali Bawa | Images: Facebook

Brijraj: I belong to your normal Indian bourgeois. When I started my distro back in 2013, I had just passed my ICSE exams and my mother had increased my pocket money from 500 to 750 rupees, haha! The cheapest CD of any Indian band would cost at least 150-200 rupees, and that used to take a huge chunk out of my funds. Since I have always wanted to own all the music I like, I had to find a way out, and that is when Slaytanic Distro started! For the first 1.5-2 years, things were painfully slow and I was barely even breaking even. But since March 2015, when I borrowed some money from my dad to invest in the business, things have picked up pace! As of today, I don’t owe a single penny to anyone and have a humble collection of my own. So I’m pretty happy about it.

Farzand: I started The Hellion Distro sometime in late 2013. To be honest, the only drive back then was the pain I felt when I wanted to give something back to the bands who did so much for me in life, but couldn’t as there weren’t many outlets to do so. There weren’t many distros back then, and the existing ones were really underground, unlike today. But then, I used to see people like Vikram Bhat, Sandesh Shenoy, Kunal Choksi, and Osustho Mogoj of Old Distro, who used to risk their earnings for us to enjoy real music. That, and friends like Desecrator from Necrodeity, inspired me to give something back, and also help others support physical music rather than TB’s of MP3’s. Moreover, I had to be involved in metal, and since I don’t play an instrument, I found this to be a good option. Hellion also enabled me to do gigs like Pictavian Necromancy with Manzer (the French black metal masters), which would otherwise have never been possible.

 

Was it hard in any way to debut a distro with premium, higher-priced products in a metal culture that was — and still is — very much based on cheaper, bootlegged merchandise?

Ulf: I was lucky to find a lot of true metalheads who want to hold an original, physical title in their hands. I realize that the current culture of illegal downloads and bootleg merchandise is not ideal for such a venture, but I believe there will always be people who appreciate owning the real thing and listening to it the right way.

Brijraj: The best part about the “metal culture” is the fact that there are always those handful of fuckers who buy the original merch and music no matter what. As far as reaching out to the newer and younger audience is concerned, the problem lies with the funds. Since I am 19, and have friends around that age who want to buy original music but can’t afford it, I am very flexible in that regard. Most of them request me to hold their favorite albums for some weeks, and I oblige. It gives them time, and some credit doesn’t hurt my distro much. And the number of people who buy this original shit rises at the end of the day, too!

Farzand: To be honest, it was as hard as anything I have ever done. Firstly, the mindset of people had to change — what’s the need to get physical copies when MP3’s are there? What’s the need to get an official shirt when there are so many cheaper bootlegs of the same available at less than half the price? It took time, but people eventually understood.

 

How receptive are record labels and suppliers these days to distributors such as yourself? Especially the bigger International labels with the more popular bands and merch?

Ulf: Most of the labels have been very receptive and supportive so far. The difference between big and small labels is more pronounced in their processes rather than willingness. The big labels obviously have more people and divisions involved in the order process, which can cause some small problems, but never anything serious.

Of course, there also have been a number of labels that haven’t replied to my requests, perhaps due to technical reasons. Some of them have only replied after a couple of months because they didn’t see my mail until then. And as for the labels who don’t respond because they are not interested, who cares? I am very happy with the ones I am working with!

Brijraj: Any record label, big or small, wants sales, and that is what we are giving them. So, no problem there! They are usually amicable, but some of them play hardball, and I personally prefer to stay away from them.

Farzand: The labels need to grow trust, and since India is a relatively new market for Metal in general, they need a bit more incentive. But now, almost all the distro’s today have some tie-up with a big label, and the whole practice has picked up speed quite a bit!

 

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A sample of the merchandise offered by Metal Masala, and the Slaytanic and Hellion distros | Images: Facebook

I’ve noticed that your supply of merch is mostly populated by that of European and UK bands, and not as much by American ones. Is there any reason behind this phenomenon, or am I just seeing things the wrong way?

Ulf: I am from the land of Sodom and Kreator; European Metal rules! I have also built good contacts with American labels, but the only problem here is that the shipping costs with their merch are usually more expensive. But I am planning more orders with my American partners; some are in the pipeline right now!

Brijraj: I wouldn’t completely agree with that. Yes, you can say that we mostly import stuff from the European/UK labels, and not so much from the US ones because of the exorbitant postage rates. Fortunately, most big labels have a European division, which makes things easier.

Farzand: I for one, only stock the bands I personally enjoy and want to support in my small, humble way. It’s all for support in the end, so why would you sell stuff from bands you don’t want to support? Of course, there are others who do that, but that’s their way of running a distro. I want to keep it very straightforward and simple: distribute what you love. So, to answer your question, my repertoire covers every corner of the globe where I feel a band needs support.

 

Give us an idea about how difficult — financially and logistically — it is to source metal merch; especially with regard to India’s laws on imports, customs and licenses.

Ulf: Well, sourcing items is not a problem, but it has to make financial sense as well. There are so many costs involved besides the item itself, so I only try to import stuff which doesn’t become too expensive at the end, so that I can offer them at affordable prices.

India’s imports laws could be more supportive, but they are a reality we have to deal with. I just wish that things would be a little more professional. I’ve had packages lost after reaching India, and at other times, deliveries have been stuck in customs for many weeks despite the paperwork being correct. And sometimes, those packages reach me looking like they have been through a war zone! Changing a jewel case box isn’t a problem, but what do you do with a damaged LP cover?

Brijraj: I live in Cuttack — a very small town. Most of you probably haven’t even heard of the state of Odisha. The nearest customs office is in Kolkata; I will leave it to you to reckon my situation. The transit times are ridiculous, and I have had tens of packages being lost or held up at customs! It is very difficult to cope with these things.

Farzand: Customs screw you in all ways possible. You run into financial loss at times, but nowhere is it written that underground Metal made anyone a big shot, is it? Also, there’s nothing much you can do in a place like India, can you?

 

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Do you think Indian distros such as yourselves have successfully combated the sale of bootleg t-shirts and merchandise in India?

Ulf: Honestly speaking, no. We have hopefully managed to make life a little easier for people who want to get the originals, but that’s about it.

Bootlegging is not a new phenomenon; it has always been there. There were tapes in the early days, and now, there are downloads. The difference here is in scale. Where in the old days you actually had to know someone who had the stuff you wanted, today, anyone can get anything from anywhere without moving a muscle. Unfortunately, this has led to a devaluation of music in my opinion. If people download hundreds of albums, when do they listen to all of them? When you can basically download any song you want, and delete the ones you don’t like right after the first listen, can you actually invest time in really experiencing an album the way it was meant to be? There are a lot of brilliant albums still coming out, but it takes time to discover them, and that time and the willingness to spend it seems to have gotten lost.

Some people even claim that, since they download everything, they know more music and it thus makes them better metalheads. What bullshit! Then, there are people who feel that they are for some reason entitled to free music. I don’t think you can battle these mentalities; all we distros can do is to offer an alternative, and be happy about anyone who wants to invest into the music to actually get something out of it.

Brijraj: Not to a substantial extent. It is the same 100 people buying original music from me who used to earlier fetch it through other sources from abroad (mostly family or friends), or through the labels directly. Buying from us gives them the assurance of not losing their orders to the ever unreliable Indian post and customs. Although, since I mostly deal in music media and not merchandise, I can speak for CDs and vinyls only.

Farzand: Why only merchandise? Buying original music has also picked up! Think about this: illegally downloading a song doesn’t cost one paisa, but you still have to pay for a bootleg shirt. When people get ready to pay for something which earlier they thought getting for free was the most legit option, isn’t that the bigger win?

 

Let’s get a little light-hearted here. Tell us a story about a piece of merch, or kind of merch, that you had the hardest time importing or selling!

Ulf: I can’t think of a title which created such difficulties. I just remember the awesome feeling I had when labels which were so important in my youth — Relapse, Peaceville, etc. — suddenly replied to my emails. I was star-struck since, after all, I am just a fan myself. One reply I received was from a musician whose work I had admired for a long time, and suddenly, this guy was writing to me! What a feeling.

It was also very cool when a Bulgarian band called Serpentine Creation contacted me out of the blue, asking me if I wanted to distribute their titles. And now, after one year, Metal Masala has released their EP (a big thanks to Satanath Records for being the driving force behind this!).

There were quite a few moments like this which made me happy, proud, and proved to me that it was all worth it.

Brijraj: THESE PIECE-OF-SHIT VINYLS! Such a pain in the ass! They’re so fragile and delicate, but our postal departments treat them like elephant fodder. The vinyl sleeves are sometimes damaged in the process, making them very hard to sell. Unfortunately, not all labels pack them with the delicate precision of a chemist, and that just translates to more losses, haha!

Farzand: I have buyers not only from India, but from the sub-continents outside the country, too. So for me, the biggest issue at times is to send stuff to those places, as their customs are even more fucked up and difficult to deal with than ours.

 

 

What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to a person who wants to start distributing merchandise?

Ulf: The most important thing is to be genuine and reasonable. You’ve got to respect the labels and distributors you are dealing with, as well as the people buying from you. Try to do it your own way; don’t copy what the others are doing. Running a distro takes a lot of work, and one should be prepared to invest that time and effort.

Brijraj: Don’t! HAHA! On a serious note, although it is tough, you can have a go if you have the time, money and reputation, and if you think you can understand the eccentric Indian metal market.

Farzand: I would like to quote one of my great friends, who told me this when I was starting out: “Good things come to those who are patient.” So always be ready to be patient. And of course, before doing this, love the bands you sell. Don’t do it just for the money, like a rat.

 

Inversely, what do you think is the biggest mistake to avoid while running a distro?

Ulf: Doing it just for the money. This way, you will end up selling out. I know that there are people who don’t have a problem with that, and maybe I am too old-fashioned in my view, but I will only stock what I respect.

Brijraj: Not charging for postage! Postage charges eat up a huge chunk of your profits, so I have only recently stopped this free postage shit.

Farzand: There are some out-and-out retards in our “scene”. I hope I could have avoided them, but you only learn from your mistakes, don’t you?

 

Thanks again for talking to us at Centuries of Sin! We wish you the best of luck with your distro, and are definitely going to buy some stuff from you guys in the future!

Ulf: Thank you for the interview. Keep up the great work, and remember: we are all in it for the music!

Brijraj: Thank you very much for letting me speak. Looking forward to your order(s)!

Farzand: Sure, thanks for your time, Sairaj! The doors of the Hellion are always open for the true lovers of Metal music! Cheers!


Get your fix of Metal Merchandise from these Distro’s here!
Metal Masala: http://metal-masala.com
Slaytanic Distro: https://www.facebook.com/groups/428268480671887/
Hellion Distro: https://www.facebook.com/thehelliondistro/

In Conversation: India’s METAL DISTRO’s