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Midhaven – Of The Lotus & The Thunderbolt Award winner

Midhaven
Of The Lotus & The Thunderbolt
by Mark Machlay at 27 July 2021, 12:35 PM

Seven years after their debut full-length album, Mumbai-based cross-genre metal band MIDHAVEN are ready for a roaring comeback with their latest, a concept album entitled “Of The Lotus & The Thunderbolt” released in the second week of July. The group formed in early 2011 with Karan Kaul on guitar and vocals, Abhishek Sawant on bass and vocals, Shreya Rane on guitar and Aviraj Kumar on drums. They began writing music very quickly as young, hungry 17-year-olds while attending college. Originally, going by the name TEMPLE SMOKE, they officially changed their name with their first EP, “Tales From The Tide” in May of 2013. After the local positive reception to their blending of metal styles with progressive tendencies, they got right to work on a full-length just a month later. They would later sign to the prestigious Universal Music Group in November 2013, but unfortunately had to go on hiatus in the beginning of 2014 because drummer Aviraj Kumar left for personal reasons. They would hold a press conference in March 2014 to announce this along with the arrival of their finished album “Spellbound” being released worldwide that same month. Shortly, they recruited former REVERRSE POLARITY vocalist Viraj Saxena as their new temporary drummer.

Now, it seems the seven year gap in new material would result in more member shakeups to MIDHAVEN. Drummer, Aviraj Kumar has seemingly returned, original guitarist Shreya Rane was replaced in 2017 with Aditya Mohanan, and original bassist Abhishek Sawant has left with Jason D’Souza handling live bass guitar duties without being a full member. Fascinating to note, the album was finished as far back as 2019 with MIDHAVEN prepping for a release in 2020, planning for a big year for the band. But, due to the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s plans had to be put on pause. Kaul says of the wait, “we used the time to perfect the album.” Kumar added that it has “reached a point where we can’t hold on to this anymore.” The first glimpse of the album came with the fiery single “Primal Song”, with rage-inducing lyrics, gritty vocals and conjuring up the deep-seated beastly nature of man to pillage and destroy.

It’s a nice choice to lead off with but belies the true chameleon of a band that MIDHAVEN have become on “Of The Lotus & The Thunderbolt”. Starting out, there is “Para Brahman”, a very TOOL-like song with arrhythmic vocal patterns that come close to extreme vocal quality over a rather hypnotic, repeated guitar riffage. Personally, second track and single “Primal Song” should have been the opening track which has more movement but still has groove metal techniques complete with guitar squeals and down-tuned heavy swampy riffs. The vocals get harsher as well, going for a more metalcore/death metal quality and a fiery, passionate guitar solo. But once the listener hits “The Immanent Effervescence of Sorrow”, the album takes on many more progressive tendencies. The gentle, melodic opening clean guitar melody over clean guitar chords and droning bass notes give a hypnotic feel to the track even when the heavier elements and off-time grooves kick in later. “Zhitro” starts out similarly but with even more simplicity, leaning strongly into the ethereal, open, and primal sound, slowly but surely building in intensity for the first 6 minutes of the track’s 10 minute runtime. For the latter half, it pulls back the intensity but all the heaviness and ethereal complexity are still present until the last minute or two where it builds that intensity back in, starting with an intense, soul-wrenching guitar solo. The last two tracks - “Mahakaal” and “Bhairav” - fall back into a doom metal/groove metal style but still keeps the otherworldly intensity wherein the former layers vocal tracks, becoming like spiritual mantras above crunchy guitars. They truly are an interesting mix of genres but it all fits, and makes for a near spiritual, ritual-like metal experience. I hope we don’t have to wait another 7 years to hear from them. MIDHAVEN is such a valuable band to help push metal in new directions.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Para Brahman
2. Primal Song
3. Codeman
4. The Immanent Effervescence of Sorrow
5. Zhitro
6. Mahakaal
7. Bhairav
Lineup:
Aditya Mohanan – Guitars & Vocals
Aviraj Kumar - Drums
Karan Kaul – Vocals &Guitars
Jason D’Souza – Bass (live)
Record Label: Independent
     


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