City band OCTL releases their first original Thengum Neer from their debut album
If you’ve attended one of the open mic gigs at @641, you’re sure to have heard the musical renditions of one of the city’s only thrash metal band OCTL (Old City Traffic Lights). And if you haven’t heard their music yet, it’s easy to gauge where their musical allegiances lie, given that the members sport either Iron Maiden, Slayer or Anthrax tees at each of their outings. Graduating from playing set cover lists that include Am I evil? by Diamond Head, Metallica’s For Whom The Bells Toll and Thunderstruck by AC/DC, the six-member band released their first single titled, Thengum Neer earlier during the week.
Formed in 2013, under the name UFO, it was in 2017 that the current band members jammed together for the first time and renamed the band OCTL, “an acronym for the first ever song that we had written,” says lead singer Hari Shankar on the sidelines of the public screening of their video single. Part of their first project that will see the release of seven songs later in the year, Thengum Neer was a long time in the coming. “Two years to be exact,” clarifies drummer Roop Kishen.
Rage against the machine
“We started out with an idea for the song late in 2016, but since our major influences are the rock and heavy metal pioneers of the 1960s and ’70s, our lyrical thought process took a similar direction,” shares Hari. Discontent with just replicating their idols, the band decided to carve out a niche by creating a thrash metal song in Tamil. “Rebellion against the organised system needs to be viewed from a standpoint in the context in which the situation was created,” explains Charan P C, bass guitarist. Exploring the theme of battling inner demons, the song and the video uses the medium of a female character who is physically battling it out to overcome her hurdles. “Translated as stagnant water, Thengum Neer is our attempt at discovering the potential energy that each of carry as individuals, much like still water. Put to proper use, this potential can break through any barrier,” says Hari.
The melody lingers
Characterised by a heavy riff, the single makes use of a groovy bass and palm-muted guitar. However, the noticeable change comes in with the vocals, that are clean, melodic and almost choral, a style that is atypical of thrash metal or even hard rock. “We are exploring the soundscape of our music and are trying to understand where we fit the best,” says John Israel, rhythm guitarist. This experiment with their sound falls in line with the band’s use of a Cajon (instead of the drums) alongside distortion guitars during a quick performance ahead of the song’s release.
With about three songs in their kitty, the band is working on lyrics for their other songs that deal
with themes like drugs, depression and addiction, some of which are bilingual.