Dhwesha – Sthoopa (2014)


Dhwesha are a young Indian death metal band that sing in Kannada, a language from Southern India that has origins in the pre-modern era. While it is always heartening to see bands employ mother tongues, no puns intended, the unfortunate reality is that this sincerity is bound to be misconstrued as a gimmick. To metal fans in far away lands, this album will stand out solely because it is a case of natives asserting control over a foreign style of music. The Exotic India syndrome – elephants, snake-charmers, and red dots included – is the reason why a frankly terrible band like Demonic Resurrection even registers in international consciousness. But the vast majority of metal fans are as idiotic as your average Britney Spears devotee, and to expect them to know their navel from their arsehole, let alone exercise objectivity and judicious bias, is foolhardy in the extreme.

Dhwesha‘s music is no gimmick but that doesn’t preclude Sthoopa from being a somewhat uneven debut. This is a brand of death metal quite obviously derived from Bolt Thrower, Vore, and more recently, Mexico’s Ominous Crucifix, with an added emphasis on Iron Maiden-style melodies. The speed on Sthoopa never rises above a considered mid-tempo, gently couching song structures of a predictable and middling nature. Of itself, this isn’t necessarily a problem for death metal of this kind, provided the writing pursues an expansive yet cohesive ideal. Dhwesha, with due credit, attempt to do just so on a few occasions on this album; ‘Sattva Bali’, ”Sthoopa‘, ‘Yuddhabhoomi‘, and ‘Kapala Haara’ all show ambition on a large scale, using suitable bridges and melodic lines to break up the monotony, and developing a thick, bellicose vibe. If Dhwesha are to achieve success within this limited paradigm, they will have to transpose the attitude and pose of these songs onto the entire album on a panoramic level, striving for an almost drone-like, hypnotic effect. This would mean not writing parts for live reaction as well as getting rid of metalcore filler like ‘Ugra Narsimha’ and the misplaced, saccharine overtures of ‘Dhwesha’. The smallest of missteps in this scenario can stand out in stark contrast against a greater backdrop of consistency but such are the caveats of working an inherently unadventurous template.

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