Formed by three musicians from a number of the most well-known Bangladeshi Metal bands going, Nekrohowl is a Death Metal machine primed and prepared to slaughter anything in their path. Warmonger (Warhound), Sadist (Enmachined, Homicide, Nefarmaan) and Obliterator (Homicide) lead the charge with their grit-laden style of Death Metal, and having only been around for a year yet managing to unleash a demo, single and now their debut EP 'Epitome of Morbid', things could not be any sweeter for the fearsome threesome. GMA caught up with the lads to find out the band's history, the current state of the Bangladesh Metal scene and what the EP entails.
Hi guys, firstly can you give us a brief history of the band and what Nekrohowl means?
"Greetings to GMA. To write about the history will be a total waste of time. Let’s just say that Sadist (Papai) and I wanted to create a different form of death metal which has a unique style. From the urge of playing good music, we decided to start a journey into the realm of death, doom and darkness in the name of Nekrohowl. Our good friends Demodulated (Abominable Carnivore) and Pounder (Dissector) worked on the first self-titled demo. Later on, due to some unavoidable circumstances, both of them had to discontinue and thus we asked Mr. Warmonger (Warhound, ex-Orator) to take the throne duty and thus the pilgrimage to the unholy land of despair and nothingness began!! Nekrohowl denotes the howling of the sufferer from the rampage of eternal obliteration by death itself."
The Bangladeshi Metal scene has a vast amount of bands, but few have seem to broken out internationally, what bands would you say are the most well-known in Bangladesh?
"First of all, I would not agree with the statement that "few of them have seem to broken out internationally". There is Orator and they played overseas multiple times including the prestigious "Bangalore Open Air", sharing the stage with Inquisition, Napalm Death, Belphegor etc. There is Severe Dementia, headlined in KTM ROCKS Nepal around 2012. Even Orator got the chance to play at Maryland Deathfest in 2014. I just named two, but there are actually 10 to 12 bands which are capable of desecrating the European churns of extreme metal. But the only disadvantage of doing extreme metal is "money". With proper financing there are vast possibilities to enrich the extreme metal scene of ours.
There are a ton of bands who are well known in Bangladesh to a particular class of people whom I never consider as listener or music enthusiast. And there are very few bands which has the unique style of song writing, showing true musicianship and staying loyal to themselves. To name a few: Orator, Severe Dementia, Mirrorblaze, Chromatic Massacre, Thrash, Exalter, Infuscation."
How did the Bangladeshi Metal scene start, has it been going long? What challenges are there as a band?
"The Bangladeshi metal scene started back in the early 80's, Waves, a hard rock / heavy metal band initiated the journey and very soon it was flourished by the emergence of bands like Rockstrata, Warfaze, In Dhaka etc. You can easily see that metal is not a new thing in our country albeit not a very popular thing either.
There are lot of challenges you need to face: finance, record labels (we almost have no proper metal labels), recording / sound engineers with proper skills and knowledge, just to name a few."
Would it be fair to say that more and more Asian Metal bands are being taken note of? Did you know about metal scenes in Bhutan, Laos, Nepal and Myanmar (Burma)?
"Asian bands are gradually getting their due recognition, steadily for sure, but finally it’s happening. I have played at Nepal Deathfest with my other band Homicide. I have little or in some extent no knowledge about the scenes of the other mentioned countries."
Would you agree that the Asian Extreme Metal scene seems to have it's own unique sound and style?
"Yes, Asian extreme metal has the most unique sound and style to offer."
What do your parents think of your choice of music?
"Hmm, I need to ask them (laugh)"
Could you give us a breakdown of the EP - what do the songs mean, how was the EP made, etc.
"Well the EP tells the journey of death itself as the supreme entity who conjured his wrath against the mortals. The journey begins with the intro which summons the darkness within. All the five tracks were made focusing on the key aspect of Death Metal, that is to create the uncanny sound of sheer malevolence through a unique way of expressing the nothingness within."
Finally do you have any greetings, thank you's you wish to send out?
"Thank you for the interview. It’s always great to see people appreciating our music."
Of all of the most isolated places on Earth, Norfolk Island is not one you would expect to have tasted heavy metal history. Sure it's proximity to Australia and New Zealand would probably argue against that, but it's the same with Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the latter owing to an active metal scene and the former with no metal music history at all.
It's only a matter of time before other Oceanian nations / areas get tinged by metal music, it's progression to Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Hawaii suggests this. But for now our focus is on Norfolk Island, a dependency of Australia with a population of just under 2,000 (the UK's smallest city St.Davids in Wales only matches this with a hundred or so difference). GMA spoke to Ben Boerboom, a former Norfolk Islander about his experience growing up on this almost-isolated island, the struggles of the metal scene and his thoughts on metal music as a whole.
"The [Norfolk] island has a pretty laid back mentality, and the islanders will support anything local, whether it be metal or otherwise"
Can you tell us how you first got into metal music? Who inspired you and what are you listening to now?
"I've been into metal since I was 2 years old (according to family - I wouldn't know!) I used to share a room with my older brother, who would listen to AC/DC & Iron Maiden around me all the time. My dad was also into a mixed bag listening to everything from ABBA & Creedence, through to Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden and Uriah Heep. Mum was into everything Woodstock plus Led Zeppelin, whilst my older sister loved 80's pop like A-HA, Madonna & Duran Duran. So, I had a very mixed musical upbringing, but it was metal that struck a chord. I don't know whether it was the dark imagery or just the music itself, but everything else failed in comparison. Plus it was always cool to be the outcast at primary school when most boys & girls my age loved music in the charts, whilst I would bring in WASP & Iron Maiden to listen to in class.
As I got older, I yearned for heavier (as I believe most metalheads do) and I discovered Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth & Slayer, which eventually progressed to the darker sh*t like Deicide, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary etc.
Iron Maiden was the band that made me want to drum. Metallica was the band that made me want to learn guitar. Nirvana, Green Day & Pennywise were the bands that made me want to form a band. I don't know why, probably the sheer simplicity of punk & grunge made me realise, you didn't have to play like Kirk Hammett, you just need to write a good tune.
Right now I listen to pretty much everything rock / metal and I can tolerate any type of music due to having a 9 year old daughter (except country - although southern blues rock is almighty close, and I don't mind that). Basically my phone has a 64GB SD card full of albums, and it sits on random play. Everything from Richard Cheese (awesome lounge / comedy act) & TISM (Aussie music at it best) through to Whitechapel and Impaled Nazarene."
You were situated on Norfolk Island for a period of time, was the metal scene you were a part of short-lived or is still active?
"Norfolk didn't have a metal scene as such. At one point (around the late 90's) there was a select few who listened to punk & metal - mostly surfers and my mates. It was also around this time I started a radio drive-time show playing rock & metal for an hour & a half, which gained a small, but loyal following. I also started a band with a couple of mates called Caktus. We recorded and sold a demo tape around the island and played a couple of gigs before disbanding due to my mates moving off the island for work / university. Its then I began to write, play and record everything myself, only playing live in cover bands. I haven't lived or been back to Norfolk Island for over 10 years, so whether there's still a following over there, I'm not so sure. However, the island has a pretty laid back mentality, and the islanders will support anything local, whether it be metal or otherwise. Country music is the genre that is most popular."
What are the challenges of being a metal music fan or band in the Australasian continent?
"With today's technology, there really is no challenge any-more. Everything is available 24-7, music videos on YouTube, online shopping etc. When I was younger, things were a little different. Any band that wasn't on a major label was hard to obtain and very expensive.
Live gigs in Australia were limited to major rock / metal bands, and with no dedicated metal festivals, smaller bands didn't have a chance in hell of getting here. Even Iron Maiden, struggled to get out here, I think they toured Australia in '82 then '84 then didn't come back until the early 90's. The only upside to never seeing bands or struggling to get material, was it added a certain mystique. I still remember that at 10 years old, I believed that Alice Cooper killed people on stage. Now, you can watch last night's gig from Montreal, Canada - learn the set-list and buy the tour shirt online. PUT YOUR PHONES DOWN PEOPLE!! ha-ha."
Outside of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and French Polynesia, do you know of any metal bands from other countries in Oceania e.g. Fiji, Tuvalu, etc?
"Unfortunately, no. But there is a really cool metal band in New Zealand that sings in Maori, can't remember their name though (ed. it's Alien Weaponry), one of their songs made the NZ mainstream charts...very cool."
Are you surprised about the global spread of metal music? What for you does metal music represent?
"No, I'm not. Metal was destined to be big. It strikes a chord with people on so many levels. Ask any metalhead what their favourite song is, and most will struggle. It's not a flash in the pan thing, fans genuinely love the music, the scene and the people involved, whether that be the band or other fans. It has longevity, chart music is here today, gone tomorrow. Hell, even I hear chart songs from the 90's / 00's and go "Shit, I'd forgotten about that song!"
However, again, with today's technology, metal may be spreading a little thin. People want shit now now now, and when they get it, they just want more more more. I'm just as guilty. I couldn't tell you the last time I absorbed an entire album over and over until I knew every word and riff back to front - but that's because I'm not a moody teenager any-more, lying on my bed all day listening to CD's! I guess that's just age though, most of the old stuff brings various memories back, so the new stuff has to be really good for me to take notice. (I really liked Decapitated's new album & COF's new one too)
Metal, for me, represents opposition in numbers. Whether its political, social or religious, metal seems to be the perfect outlet / release for anger, negativity or any sort of anti / "f*ck you" attitude. It represents musical freedom, with no set boundaries or rules. A genre that can mix with anything and still kick arse. Rap metal, Symphonic Metal, Metal / Reggae, Industrial, etc etc. A genre that can provide 15 minutes epics and still be taken seriously. Band members can wear codpieces, spikes & weaponry and not be laughed at. As long as the music is good, the fans will follow. That is why I love Metal."
Would you ever try to setup a metal band and or scene on Norfolk Island in the future?
"No, I have no real plans of heading back there, although, I think it would be awesome to organize a huge festival over there. But, airfares etc are just way too overpriced, and it would cost an absolute fortune to do. Also, its hard enough to get bands to Australia & New Zealand, let alone a tiny island in the middle of the South Pacific. But you never know, maybe one day in the future when they have figured out teleportation."
When you think of Cyprus, you tend to think of wine, Greek relations, hot and sand-swept land. But simmering under the Mediterranean heat is a vibrant metal scene with a handful of bands who have graced the international stage, Winter's Verge for example. However closer to the surface is a underground scene that is fresh as the vineyards growing on this rocky island.
Nekhrah are a Death Metal band hailing from Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus and have released their debut album 'Cosmic Apotasy' this year, so it was only fair for GMA to interrogate this quartet and ask them about their origins, thoughts on Brexit, the history of the Cypriot Metal scene, touring and plans for 2018.
".... the size of the scene is an inherent challenge. It’s something niche that has its own intricate ways of functioning."
Hey guys, firstly could you tell us how Nekhrah came about and what the name means?
"Nekhrah is an anglicised version of the Greek word Nekra (Νέκρα) which means dead / deadness emptiness. It is pronounced as Né-kra."
What do your parents think of your choice of music?
"Well, I’m sure there’s regret for paying for music lessons, our mental health has been questioned on numerous occasions before, but overall, they are all very supportive even if it is not their cup of tea. Some have even attended a gig – needless to say, it was the first and last one."
How long has the Cypriot Metal scene been going? What challenges have you had to face as a band, and the scene itself?
"There were a few bands during the late 80’s that I am aware off. The extreme scene came about during the early 90’s and picked up speed during the early 00’s.
The Cypriot Metal scene has an inherent curse; compulsory TWO YEAR army service for Cypriot nationals at the age of 18. Lots of bands that begin during the teen years don’t make it after the members reach their 20’s due to this. As time outside of the army is limited for those two years, members are reluctant to practise or simply lose the spark to be creative and just go into mental slumber for the duration of their service.
Some of our members had to attend the army, then others left abroad for studies so we relied a lot on each individual’s commitment, passion and of course, the internet to keep Nekhrah going during these times.
I recall in 2014, two members flew from Cyprus, another from Scotland and another from Guildford to play a gig in a local Pub in Colchester, Essex alongside two other local bands. With regard to the scene itself I guess the size of the scene is an inherent challenge. It’s something niche that has its own intricate ways of functioning. Part of the challenge has been figuring out what works and how to put it in application."
You just released your debut album 'Cosmic Apotasy', what has the reception been like? Will you tour South-Eastern Europe in support? Or a simple Cypriot tour?; Is it hard to apply for shows in Northern Cyprus and Turkey?
"So far it has been received far more warmly than we had envisaged. It has been featured in Magazines in Poland, Germany and Norway, in a compilation CD, featured on playlists and has been played on various big rock / metal radio stations internationally. Needless to say we are overwhelmed with the praise the album has received.
A tour is currently in the works, although nothing is set in stone as of yet. Hopefully that works out and we can reach out to new listeners through gigs. Seeing as Cyprus is such a small Island the term “touring” would make it sound more grandiose than it actually is haha. But yes, we plan on playing other cities other than our home town.
Getting political are we? Regarding the first part of your question, it is certainly not practically hard to apply for shows in Northern Cyprus since the opening of the check-points on the island back in 2003.
Regarding Turkey, there are no direct flights from the Republic of Cyprus to Turkey which means that to get there one would have to cross over the check-points with equipment etc and leave from the North or get a connecting flight through another country that flies directly to Turkey. In that regard it would perhaps be practically harder to play Turkey should the opportunity present itself."
What are your thoughts on Brexit?
"Brexit seems to be like one of those terrible far-fetched stories that end up being true. Sort of like Trump being elected as head of State. However, without a doubt it does represent the view of current majority (out of the people who voted) within the UK no matter whether the Pro-Brexit campaigners have deliberately misinformed and misled.
Now on the flip side I’m not certain that it directly reflects the views of the majority of the political leadership which (undoubtedly) must now follow through. As a result the political leadership is now faced with the colossal task of negotiating deals that best protect the interests of the UK citizens with a EU that doesn’t seem well disposed to do so.
Currently I feel there is an air of uncertainty and speculation about what turn events will take. Any speculation as to the economic and socio-political impacts of the Brexit are perhaps beyond my knowledge and the purpose of this interview."
Given Cyprus' location, do you have many metal bands come and play across the island?
"Surprisingly we have had numerous big names come and play here. Some honourable mentions (in no particular order): Paul Di Ano, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Scorpions, Sepultura, Vader, Sodom, Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ, Bolzer, Kafros Lord, Moonspell, Sabaton, Mnemic."
What plans have you got for the rest of the year?
"Now that the album has been officially released we are focusing more on promotion and booking gigs for 2018, thus apart from regular rehearsals, writing new material and perhaps recording a new single we don’t have any other substantial plans for 2017. Further, we have an album presentation on the 21st of December where we will be playing Cosmic Apostasy in its entirety as well as a few new un-recorded songs."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc you wish to send out?
"Thank you’s go out to Constantinos Syrimis, Nikolas Prokopiou of ToneDeaf Studio, Alan Douches of West West Side Music and Maciej Kamuda. Greetings go out to readers of Global Metal Apocalypse as well as anyone who has researched the band and stumbled across your interview. Thank you kindly for your time and interest, we appreciate it greatly."
Not many people could envisage Bhutan having a metal scene, for a landlocked country high up in the Himalayas, some would question whether this Buddhist country could ever spawn off a metal scene. Well despite the band Forsaken seemingly being inactive, they were fundamental to the scene nonetheless.
Kinley Phyntso was more than happy to give us a brief interview of how he got into metal music, the state of the Bhutanese Metal scene and how Forsaken came about.
How did you become involved in metal music? What do your parents think of the music genre?
"My entry into metal (music) would have to be back in 2006 when a friend of mine brought Linkin Park's 'Hybrid Theory' to class and made me listen to it. It was pretty heavy compared to what I was accustomed to (mostly 70's and 80's music thanks to my mum). Now I listen to way heavier stuff than Linkin Park but they definitely were my gateway band into metal. My parents and family being the open people they are have never had any issues with the genre. They don't particularly like it but they don't tell me to switch it off when it's blaring through my speakers either."
Could you tell us how Forsaken formed, the band history and challenges faced as a metal band in Bhutan?
"I was contacted around 2012 by Ujwal Pradhan to do vocals for a band he was putting together for a battle of the bands. That was where I met the rest of the guys; Arpan Tamang, Singye Namgay, Lhakpa, and Sangay Khandu. We took part in the competition, won it and kept playing at our local pub here, the Mojo Park.
Being a metal band in a small country such as ours which is still developing, it was and still is hard to stay afloat. Many people didn't really get why we headbanged on stage or why I was growling and screaming into a microphone. They just never considered it music and we were not really in demand so we did what was the logical thing to do. We started adding some well-known rock songs into our metal set-list so that we could get shows considering there are not many venues for any band to perform at here in Thimphu."
Could you tell us what the Bhutanese Metal scene is like? (studio's, venues, bands, media, metal music following, etc)?
"The Bhutanese metal scene is a very, very small niche of people. There are no metal radio stations or even metal played on mainstream radio. It's just guys and girls who have metal playing on their phones and iPods, wearing their favourite band shirts (which are hard to come by) and musicians who just play in their bedrooms. It is not dead but it is not thriving either. We maybe have like one or two festivals in a year but that is about it. There are not many venues which entertain metal music and metal bands that do form have mostly fallen to obscurity. "
How did the Bhutanese Metal scene start? What challenges are there on a wider scope, rather than band level - government opposition per se?
"In a year we try to do at least two metal festivals called 'Painkiller' in the winters and 'Namchag Duitoen' (Sky Iron Fest) in the summer.
And the turnout is about 100 to 150 people which is good by our standards. Budget is always a hassle since we don't have sponsors, mostly because we do our shows in small pubs and business owners don't see much of a point in investing money in a festival being held in a dimly lit setting. Outdoor festivals cost way too much money and just requiresway too much paperwork to get through.
Since the metal scene here is a very small one, finding bands to fill up a two day festivals bill can be tough especially since a lot of the bands cancel at last minute or don't even have proper equipment of their own. These festivals survive because a few of us put money in to proper advertising and getting the word out there as well as asking our friends to lend their guitars or amps or jacks to some of the bands who don't really have very good gear. Like I said, it's a very small scene with even fewer people who actually play this kind of music and the scene is usually very quiet until the festivals come rolling around. Then silence again."