ShredxXx is a one of a kind band in that, where other bands from the glam metal/thrash metal world would rely on heavy riffs backing a face-melting guitar solo, shrieking the notes in the highest available registers, the centre stage here is given to Swarnabha Gupta’s sitar. The band releases their debut album this Friday, 16th September, under AMUZE records who previously brought us Zikr by Neel Sarkar Project and Heart of Darkness by The Bodhisattwa Trio.
The fairly young band from Kolkata has its roots in the old school metal era namely bands such as – King Diamond, Iron Maiden and Megadeth. However, the young boys have done well in their attempt to adapt to the current times based on production. Additionally, they provide quite a platform to the USP of the band i.e. – the sitar. Picture the immense wails of a Van Halen guitar solo – now picture the same chops with the texture of a sitar.
From the very first song, Homuragama, the tone and mood of the album seems to be set. The instrumental jam explores both major and minor tonalities with ample breaks in between culminating in a high pitch squeal that marks the beginning of the second track – My Bitch.
The track begins with an almost neo-classical guitar lick. By the time the vocals begin, the basic groove is well established. While the riffs seemingly pay homage to the bands which have influenced these young city musicians, it’s during the turnarounds that you really get the heart of the band. The song breaks into an acoustic section featuring a sitar solo that might have broken away from the mood the first chorus leaves the listener in, but, with a clever section between sitar and drums, the band shifts into the already established groove, this time letting the lead guitar player go wild. The shift from the verse – chorus – verse – bridge is a welcome change and the guitar solos definitely add to breaking the monotony.
Turbulence sets an ominous tone what with the sirens in the intro, but it could possibly be my favourite track from the album simply based on the harmonic minor riffs that start off the song. The drummer seems to have fun here, finding ample scope to mess around with all of his cymbals and locking in time with the very bright sounding guitars. The second half of the song shifts to an acoustic guitar – distorted sitar solo section again. (Personal note: That final harmony is very interesting).
Resurrection, likely the heaviest track off the record, begins with a slow guitar riff that builds with a sitar line backing it. The breaks are misleading in that it feels like the introduction to a kind of groove but branches off to something else altogether. Another change is introduced with the vocals that then progresses into a more groove metal backing with the vocals ending in a mild growl. Another acoustic transition seems to be the go to for the band by now.
Defiance has a strong lyrical message to deliver and seems to be centered on the vocal harmonies. Backed by a strong solitary riff that almost steps into Pantera groove territory, the lead singer has fun with powerful vocal content and delivery. The solos on this one are a personal favourite; avery speed metal finish.
The way the final track starts off, you’re quick to do a double take. Epilogue might just pass off as a creation by city band No Strings Attached. The mandolin, sitar, guitar trio seems to have an extremely pleasant jam. It leaves me with the thought that if this group were to ever transition into more Neel Sarkar Project territories, they might be making waves.
Production of the album wasn’t the easiest; primarily facing issues with the drums. Avijit Chakroborty, the man behind AMUZE records tuned the kit himself while getting rid of the sound baffles in the room so the walls could add some texture to it. Guitars were recorded on Laney and Line 6 amps using the classic POD X3 live on a few tracks. It has been repeatedly mentioned that the tracks have not been quantized or heavily edited, nor have they been compressed much, so as to keep the intended dynamics alive.