Rock Era talks to India’s Metal Icon – Demonic Resurrection
“When no one would book us we’d organize our own shows, when there was no label to release our music I started my own. I dropped out of college and put myself in a situation where I had to make something in the music industry work for me.” – Demonstealer
Demonic Resurrection is a blackened death metal band formed in the year 2000. Rock Era Magazine had the chance to talk to the founder, Sahil Makhija, the driven ‘Deamonstealer’ about how Demonic Resurrection rose from a non-existent-death metal scene in Mumbai, India in the year 2000 to become the nation’s metal pride.
We also discuss ‘A Headbangers Kitchen’, the stories of good vs. evil in the Demonic Resurrection’s album trilogy, and what they have in store for Dubai’s metal crew on Feb 6th at Sound of Thunder 2015: Demonic Resurrection & Aramaic Live in Dubai organized by Mainstage Music and Events.
You guys have a nice balance of melody and brutal aggression – how do you guys keep this balance or who are behind the ‘concepts’ of your music?
When I started the band in the year 2000 you could say I laid the groundwork for the sound. I was influenced by a lot of black metal back then, and also a lot of bands like Theatre Of Tragedy, Lacuna Coil and so on. So, the older stuff was a mix of that. In 2003, we revamped the line-up and started writing together, Mephisto, who plays keyboard, brought in symphonic as well as melodic elements while our drummer JP was just a furious death metal drummer. We started finding our sound back then and it’s been a constant evolution since with new members bringing in their flavors to the overall Demonic Resurrection sound. You could say we love the aggression and brutality of death metal but we also love the expressiveness of melody and it’s just something that comes naturally to us.
How important is the keyboard to keep up the melodic essence in the blackened death? (We love keyboards in our metal)
For us we look at the keyboard bringing a more epic or grand feeling to the songs. Of course, it does add to the melodic essence as well but when it needs to be brutal the keys find a way to fit in there as well. So, I would say that it is a big and very important part of our sound.
India, moreover Mumbai, does not come to mind when you think death metal. Can you tell us how you broke through the barriers of the early days and became internationally celebrated death metal band?
Back in the day I just wanted to play music and my passion for metal just consumed me to the point where my entire existence revolved around Demonic Resurrection and making it work. We had a scene of cover bands, barely any festivals, no venues, no labels, no PR, nothing. I just did whatever I needed to do to ensure that Demonic Resurrection could carry on.
When no one would book us we’d organize our own shows, when there was no label to release our music I started my own. I dropped out of college and put myself in a situation where I had to make something in the music industry work for me. While I do still hold a day job today which is music related, I think just knowing I didn’t have a corporate career to go back to helped me take the band forward irrespective of the line-up changes.
Performances at Sonisphere, Wacken and winning the Metal Hammer’s Golden God award for Global Metal – great highlights surely among many others. Can you tell us what is the band’s biggest highlight?
Honestly it’s very tough to answer because there are so many. I guess when I got that email from Candlelight Records saying they will release our new album, playing in Norway’s Inferno Metal Festival in 2010 to celebrate 10 years of Demonic Resurrection and that also being our first ever international concert. Winning Metal Hammer’s Golden God award was definitely a highlight. So yes there are many.
Watch Demonic Resurrection at Inferno Metal Festival here
Do you think being one of India’s first and few death metal bands gives you an edge?
I would say there are quite a few extreme metal bands now in India but being one of the first definitely helped because there is no competition. 15 years ago there was no band that sounded like Demonic Resurrection or played this subgenre of metal that we did. Today there might be 2 or 3 that are similar but you can still easily create an identity for yourself in a small scene, which say 10 years from now, will not be as easy. So time has definitely given us an edge.
We understand you are also behind Headbanger’s Kitchen – are your Indian recipes appreciated by fans all over the world?
I sure hope so! But, yes, the recipes are enjoyed by people. The funny thing is I never cooked desi food and don’t even like to it all the time. I only learnt how to cook that because I had an international guest George Kollias on the show and I was like I can’t feed him European food, I should make him taste the flavors of India. So, I got into cooking it and now I really like it because I hate spicy food and now I can make the food tasty but not spicy so I enjoy it now.
What are your other metal-ventures?
I used to be an event promoter and also ran my label Demonstealer Records, both of which are now both shut down because Demonic Resurrection has a label and is able to get shows. So I can take a chill pill for now!
I do bookings and PR for bands and run a home studio where I record and produce bands. I also have 2 other bands Reptilian Death and Workshop. I am currently working on a solo album as well which features George Kollias from Nile on drums.
Your themes seem to be focused on The Apocalypse and The Resurrection, especially your last album as you describe as an epic battle between God and The Demon King? Why?
We really just like to write stories. The first album was more personal and was about me writing about my emotions at the time. In 2003 we decided to change the theme and ‘darkness’ seemed to be our chosen theme. The next 3 releases evolved into the Darkness Trilogy that was about a story of good vs. evil where good triumphed over evil in the end. With our new album The Demon King the title and basic idea were born from Mephisto, our keyboard player who thought we should tell the story of Ravan – a demon from Hindu mythology. A friend of his was writing a book with a similar theme. We thought of adapting our story from the book but finally, I decided that I wanted to write my own story. So we retained the title The Demon King and I built the story from there. The ending however – will leave for people to hear the album, read the lyrics and find out what happens at the end.
We are very excited to have your band perform in Dubai for the first time. Can you give us a preview of what you have in store for your fans at the gig?
Actually this is our 2nd visit to Dubai. We played last year with Nervecell at the Dubai Rock Festival and we had a blast and the response was fantastic. However our new album, The Demon King had not released then so for us this is great because now fans can come and hear some new material as well as the old favorites.
Why do you call yourself the Demonstealer?
I was a young 16-year-old kid into metal and heavily into black metal where most musicians had a stage name. I decided I needed one too and since I was not well versed in mythology or Lord Of The Rings, I could only come up with Demonstealer, which was less cheesy than Demonslayer.