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Bloodywood - Rakshak Award winner

Bloodywood
Rakshak
by Matt Bozenda at 03 December 2021, 10:20 PM

Today it can be hard to escape your own past. Never mind getting away from the bad things any of us have done, it’s the embarrassing things which can haunt us worst of all. When it comes to music, how many bands with otherwise spotless histories can recall a terribly recorded CD-R featuring their sucky earliest material? No doubt there’s been many a Glam/Hair cover just waiting to be uploaded.

It can take a monumental effort to overcome that when it’s all still available to watch on YouTube. Take today’s example, India’s BLOODYWOOD. For most of the previous decade, that name has been associated with Metal versions of Bollywood songs and other folk tunes, to varying degrees of sincerity. A fine cover of LINKIN PARK’s “Heavy” a few years ago seems to have been where a good idea turned into a great idea; having piecemealed some original material since then, the band is set to make their official debut with “Rakshak” and there is a lot to take seriously with this album.

The band itself identifies as Indian Folk Metal, but that’s really just one element. They boldly dive into the oft-maligned styles of Nu-Metal and Rap Metal, a territory without much heralding since the aforementioned LINKIN PARK set a hostile invasion over BIOHAZARD’s crumbling supremacy. The recently released video for “Gaddaar” quickly blew up and firmly staked the band’s new direction. Tracks like the updated “Machi Bhasad” and “Dana-Dan” are also prime examples of how heavy they’re willing to get, and all three can easily find a place in the All-2021 (and maybe the All-2022) playlist.

The Folk side is more thoroughly explored on “Jee Veerey”, “Endurant” and “Yaad”, the latter two of which are extremely layered with Indian instruments. That same colossal depth is achieved even without all the layering, such as on “BSDK.exe” or “Aaj”, which also seems to carry a somewhat Prog edge into the fold, which is continued on “Zanjeero Se”. “Chakh Le” finally ends things with a solid puncher, properly closing in extreme fashion.

Some stylistic hallmarks are the use of languages: a Hindi/Punjabi chorus followed by a verse in English which is usually but not always rapped. The stumble potential is sky-high but BLOODYWOOD’s vocalists do an excellent job of meshing their sounds. Their use of the varying traditional instruments, like the dhol, the bansuri, and the tumbi, are given consistent time on the tracks in which they’re used, not just given a few bars then getting mixed out. “Rakshak” features a few scene changes here and there, but not one part of the music is being taken for granted.

To put it simply, this album is a must-have for any fan of Folk Metal. Those who get the appeal of bands like ALIEN WEAPONRY but more so THE HU will particularly see what BLOODYWOOD is up to here and appreciate it. The metal community at large may find resistance to be futile as well; since understanding the lyrics is far from a requirement by most metalheads, the sheer force and strength of will included on each track will be difficult to cast down. One should not ignore the words anyways, because some powerful and poignant wisdom can be heard throughout each song.

The album’s title is Hindi for ‘guardian’, and BLOODYWOOD is giving us the best protection we can get by not hiding any truths. And whatever else one’s opinions may be, “Rakshak” is set to drop on February 18, 2022. There will be little debate then.

Musicianship: 10
Songwriting: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Gaddaar
2. Aaj
3. Zanjeero Se
4. Mashi Bhasad
5. Dana-Dan
6. Jee Veerey
7. Endurant
8. Yaad
9. BSDK.exe
10. Chakh Le
Lineup:
Karan Katiyar - guitars, percussion, other instruments
Raoul Kerr - rap vocals
Jayant Bhadula - aggressive vocals
Record Label: Independent
     


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