'Silence is sanction': Metal band The Down Troddence sing of resistance in new track, Fight. React. Be A Part

Anurag Tagat

Jan 16, 2020 10:05:30 IST

It might have been the government’s hardline stance on implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and proposing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and allowing violence to escalate in New Delhi last month, but there was another reason Bengaluru-based folk metal band The Down Troddence were enraged.

The Kannur-bred band’s vocalist Mithun Raj aka Munz tells us, “For three days straight we were trying to participate in the protests (in Bengaluru). But on the way to the protest we would get stuck in traffic, or friends would ask us not to go because the police was attacking people. For three days, we couldn’t even participate in the protests. We felt so shitty that we could not even show our support. We felt so powerless. Instead of being keyboard warriors, we should go out and show support (sic).”

 Silence is sanction: Metal band The Down Troddence sing of resistance in new track, Fight. React. Be A Part

Munz and bassist Nezer Ahemed eventually did get to join in and stand with protesters, even recently at the Race Course Road protest on 8 January that ran all night. It was about two weeks after they had released their song 'Fight. React. Be A Part', which comes about five years after their 2014 debut album How Are You? We Are Fine, Thank You.

Known for their menacing groove metal that draws from Sepultura, Lamb of God and more, this new song – featuring vocalist Akhil Unnikrishnana aka Kel from fellow Kerala metal band Heretic – was recorded in two days and completed within six. Munz says the guiding factor was not just the anger surrounding the government’s stand on the CAA-NRC issue, but also the fact the band hadn’t been able to voice their opinion in the way they wanted as individuals and a group.

While they’d released a live version of a song called 'Kolam' in early 2019, 'Fight. React. Be a Part' also breaks the inertia surrounding The Down Troddence’s songwriting processes. Munz says, “We thought we lost the fact that we could write music in a short time. We’ve been trying and failing. It’s the first time we’re doing something in such short time. Everyone in the band was really pissed off with what was happening and the fuel was burning and it was flawless. Everyone just came in and started writing their parts.”

The accompanying lyric video shows that the band doesn’t mess around in the four-minute song, cutting straight to their condemnations. Munz questions “a megalomaniac heart” with verses such as “how could you let blood run in Kashmir?” The song may start with the news clip of a student’s tear-filled anger, but invokes the message of the widely used expression, “when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty” just as a swirling, dissonant breakdowns comes in. Munz growls, “Silence is sanction/stand with uprising”.

Munz is fully aware of how the Indian metal scene has its own share of centrists and right-wingers, but it doesn’t deter him from sending this song across to any and all who are familiar with The Down Troddence. The vocalist says, “When I sent a broadcast blast on my WhatsApp and posted on Facebook, I got a few messages saying, ‘Since you guys have talked about this, let me go back and check [the act].' Some also said they won’t comment on it without doing my research.”

Thankfully for The Down Troddence and Munz, he says the figures he looks up to in Indian metal haven’t let him down, citing former Undying Inc. vocalist Shashank Bhatnagar in Delhi (who held up an anti-CAB poster during one of his performances), Mumbai metal musician The Demonstealer aka Sahil Makhija (who has been attending protests) and Bengaluru vocalist and sound engineer Abijith Rao (from metal band Escher’s Knot, who joined Munz at the 8 January protest). The vocalist does, however, say there seem to be two broad categories of musicians with regard to speaking out about the current state. “One category has people who clearly want to ignore whatever is happening and the other category who are really scared to talk about these things.” He cites the example of a fellow Kerala musician who spoke out against CAA and NRC, who then received violent threats and internet messages targeting his family.

Munz too has received threatening messages, but 'Fight. React. Be a Part' now has over 12,000 views since it released on 24 December. The vocalist says, “It’s a niche crowd tuning in, but if out of the 10,000 views we get, 200 people say ‘Let me go back and research this. Maybe there’s another side to it’, that’s a big success.”

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Updated Date: Jan 17, 2020 11:00:43 IST