Indian metal bands expanding their reach to the West

Bengaluru’s Metal Scene: A Hub for Heavy Metal in India

The air is electric at Fandom at Gilly’s Redefined, a popular venue located on the first floor of a pub in Koramangala, Bengaluru. It’s a loud night of metal, with attendees ranging from a Gen-Z bassist, proudly displaying iron-on patches of his favorite bands on his denim jacket, to middle-aged fans sporting black T-shirts tucked into jeans. The speakers blast out the classic anthem ‘The Trooper’ by Iron Maiden, causing the crowd to headbang in unison. This thriving metal scene in Bengaluru is a testament to the city’s reputation as a hub for heavy metal music.

Bengaluru’s love affair with metal dates back over a decade. In March of 2007, British heavy metal legends Iron Maiden made their India debut at Bengaluru’s Palace Grounds, performing for an astounding 40,000 fans. Other iconic bands like Deep Purple and Metallica have also graced the city with their presence, solidifying its status as a destination for metal acts. From veteran bands like Slayer and Mayhem to modern acts such as Periphery and Animals As Leaders, Bengaluru has always been a hotbed for heavy metal.

The city’s metal scene doesn’t stop at live performances. Tribute nights, like the recent one held by Girish and The Chronicles at Hard Rock Café in Whitefield, pay homage to the rock and metal music of the 1980s. Additionally, Bangalore Open Air, a mainstay festival that will celebrate its 10th edition in February 2024, attracts metal enthusiasts from all over the country.

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The love for metal in Bengaluru has even influenced bands to relocate to the city. Obliterating Vortex, a technical death metal band from Darjeeling, recently made the move to Bengaluru to take advantage of the city’s thriving metal scene. Guitarist Aditya Darnal explains that the decision was “a random gamble in this game of life” to score more gigs and reduce touring costs. Darnal adds that the change has been great so far, with new opportunities and gigs, as well as the chance to meet new people and attend metal shows.

While Bengaluru may be a metal hotspot in India, it is not enough to sustain the genre in the country. Metal music is still considered niche, and although there are many fans, they are limited in number. Therefore, Indian metal bands are looking to expand their horizons by seeking success abroad. Many bands, including Kryptos and Bloodywood, have successfully toured Europe and the US, taking advantage of the decades-old festivals and touring and label ecosystems in these regions.

Kryptos, a heavy metal band from Bengaluru, has toured extensively internationally. Lead vocalist Nolan Lewis explains that while they have a loyal fan base in India, they realized that their reach would be limited if they only focused on the Indian audience. By tapping into the thriving heavy metal scene in Europe, Kryptos has built a solid European fan base and even performed at prestigious events like Wacken Open Air in Germany. They now plan to tour Europe multiple times next year.

Bloodywood, known for their unique blend of Punjabi dhol, rap, and metal, has also found success on the international stage. Their viral fame on YouTube attracted metal listeners from around the world, leading to bookings for tours and festivals in Europe and the US. They have since returned to India to perform on major stages, including Lollapalooza 2023 in Mumbai.

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English-singing metal bands in India, such as Girish and The Chronicles, Inner Sanctum, and Godless, are also making strides in the international metal scene. Through a combination of international networks, streaming platforms, and sheer persistence, these bands are working hard to keep the metal flag flying high in India. With themes ranging from personal struggles to historical figures like serial killers, these bands stay true to the essence of heavy music.

While there are already several rock and metal festivals in India, such as Mahindra Independence Rock and Bangalore Open Air, many feel that more events and better touring infrastructure are needed to support the metal genre in the country. Thankfully, initiatives like Bandland and the revived Outrage Festival are working to provide more opportunities for Indian bands to showcase their talent.

As the metal scene in Bengaluru continues to thrive, it’s clear that the city is a hotbed for heavy metal in India. With bands finding success abroad and local festivals creating platforms for homegrown talent, the future looks promising for Indian metal bands. As long as there are dedicated fans and passionate musicians, the metal spirit in Bengaluru will remain strong.

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