Dirge talks heavy music before performing in Kerala for the first time at Deliverance fest
The five-member act from Mumbai
Being musicians involve more than just mastery of instruments. Mumbai-based band Dirge exhibits a definite conviction in placing their tunes alongside complimenting elements. High voltage gigs and steady touring, alongside an intricately carved album artwork and a detailed lyrical concept based on Aztec and Mayan myths in their debut release, Ah Puch, give strength to their rather slow tunes that loom in like a cloud of despair.
“The concept behind the album came about when our bassist, Harshad Bhagwat, developed an interest in Mayan architecture because of his profession. He’d create sketches and write about mythical characters. We figured that it would fit the heavy music that we play and when it came to releasing the record, roped in Bengaluru-based illustrator Gaurav Basu for the artwork—which he worked on for nearly eight months,” says guitarist Ashish Niraj Dharkar, speaking for other members of the band Varun Patil, Tabish Khidir, Vineet Nair and Harshad.
We’re keen to find out more about the quintet as they bring their heavy and spaced-out style of music to Kerala for the first time.
Slow and low
Like any small city, Pune had little to offer for an act like Dirge which plays a style different from the modern progressive metal popular across India. A year or so after its formation in 2014, the band shifted base to Mumbai and also went through a couple of lineup changes.
Starting off with covers of projects like US-based Down and Acid Bath, they slowly evolved their own sound. “We had grunge and even some stoner influences in earlier times. Later, we incorporated more atmospheric and melodic influences, maybe inspired by not just metal acts like Yob but also ambient projects like Biosphere and Lustmord,” says the instrumentalist trained at Mumbai’s True School of Music.
He says that even though the metro’s crowd took some time, they eventually warmed up to Dirge’s uncommon sludge/doom metal sound. Over the years, they’ve established themselves as one of the few actively performing bands playing the genre—opening for international acts such as Kazakhstan-based CHU and Japanese Defiled and bringing the doom to popular festivals such as Bangalore Open Air and Control Alt Delete.
When the band shut themselves in the studio to bring out their debut LP in 2018, they did not let the lack of understanding about their kind of music among producers in India to limit them. So, they reached out to US-based producers Sanford Parker and Brad Boatright—who have worked with bigwigs like Eyehategod and Sleep—to bring out the six-song concept album.
Visiting new cities to spread the gospel, they’re also playing two new tracks with “some psychedelic and even more atmospheric influences.” People planning to headbang to Dirge can expect songs like La Malinche and Corpse of Cortez, with a cover of Down’s Bury Me in Smoke thrown into the setlist.
On June 30 at 4.30 pm
At The South Park Hotel, Thiruvananthapuram
The second edition of Deliverance Fest will play host to Dirge in Kerala. The multi-genre event will also see performances by Hyderabad-based thrashers Primal Abuse, Mumbai-based melodic rock outfit, Kochi’s art rockers Olam and Thiruvananthapuram-based thrash project Aerial Machine.