Undying Inc “Our music makes you wanna kick someone in the face”

Extreme metal is making waves in India today. Infernal Wrath have just released their groundbreaking album Inside Of Me, Bhayanak Maut’s new album only cemented their reputation as a hallowed extreme act, and Demonic Resurrection are all set to unleash Return To Darkness. As with any movement that becomes popular, scores of bands jump on the bandwagon, trying to make hay while the scene shines. But there are always a select few who stand apart, stubbornly refusing to be anyone but themselves. Like Delhi’s Undying Inc, for example.

Being themselves is something the band takes very seriously, but they needn’t worry. No one can be like them, because it is impossible to define their sound. An eclectic mix of death/thrash/progressive/math metal, songs like Manimal, Evilution and Breeding Gods defy conventional musical boundaries.

“People have called our music all sorts of stuff but I don’t want to define it,” explains bassist Ruben during a break from tracking their new album. “We talk about the elements that are there in the music – speed, groove, technique, aggression. Whatever comes out of that mix is for the people to figure out. There are so many different genres and sub-genres; Fuck that. Pick up a guitar and go with whatever sound comes out.

Undying Inc (C) Shailesh Johar“You can’t take our songs and say this is 70s/90s metal. It’s timeless; it’s an amalgamation of everything we grew up listening to and we’re currently listening. It’s undying, hence the name Undying Inc!”

Guitarist Biswarup agrees: “Just call it heavy music yaar. It’s just heavy metal done differently. People make a big issue of which genre a band comes under but I don’t really get it, it’s just heavy music at the end of the day”

It is this very conscious abhorrence of genres, and the limited creative scope that accompanies words like ‘metalcore’ and ‘death metal’, that allows the band to create some of the smartest, yet undeniably brutal metal to ever decimate Indian ears. Meshuggah might be a possible reference point, but be warned – it is the loosest reference possible. Undying Inc’s songs are avant-garde metal at their best.

How else can you describe a song like Membraneous? If odd-time signatures were art, this would be the masterpiece. Vocalist Shashank’s hair-raising wail pervades through most of the song, in what is arguably the most throat shredding 5 minutes of metal to come out this year. All this is built on the rock-solid rhythm foundation of skinsman Yuvraj, whose acrobatics behind the drum kit will doubtless inspire a whole new generation of kids to discover the instrument.

“I have no clue where these riffs come from,” laughs Biswarup when I ask him. “I don’t really think about the structure of songs. I’ve studied classical music and music theory but when it comes to writing songs I don’t really think about the theory; I just let it go and stick with whatever comes out. The rhythm has to be there, the groove. If we like what we’re hearing then that’s fine.”

Nor is the band much in favour of subtlety, as song titles like Existence Failed show. “Our music is extremely brutal, aggressive and unmelodic, and that’s how we are as people – 4 fucking pissed off guys, pissed off at everything in life. Maybe urban life does that to you. The music you make reflects who you are,” explains Ruben.

“Our music makes you wanna kick someone in the face and say ‘I’m not gonna take this shit from you.’ Fuck you. The earth is gonna die, accept it. All this talk of saving the world and global warming is bullshit. We’re gonna die and nobody gives a shit.”

Angst is a metal cliché, but when backed by such precocious ability it is hard not to take Undying Inc seriously. Breeding Gods, the second track which will be featured on the new album, places the spotlight firmly the band’s incredible technique. From blast beats, to a high-pitched yawp that Shashank manages to hold perfectly for what seems like an eternity, this song pummels you into submission. Ruben’s bass guitar stands out in superlative fashion as he keeps pace with the typically atypical riff – an inherent dichotomy that defines Undying’s sound.

Undying Inc - BizSuch variety usually comes from a band that has eclectic music tastes, and Biswarup confirms the same: “Ruben listens to all kinds of music, especially grunge. Yuvraj listens to a lot of trance and world music. Shashank listens to a lot of music of all genres. For me, if I hear anything soft I don’t like it. The only common thing is that all of us are into metal.”

Just like with the music, there is not set formula to the song writing either. “There’s no process of how we write songs. Usually I come up with a riff and everyone adds their bit to the song as things go along. It’s a collective process. Our sound has evolved over the years. We used to sound like an old-school heavy band. Our ex-vocalist Amitabh was a big fan of the Floridian death metal scene. Now the structures have become a little more complex, less straight forward.”

The band is currently busy recording their new, as yet untitled album. They tell me that they hope to have 12 songs to choose from, which might include an instrumental. The disc is slated for release in late December/early January. “We’re experimenting right now,” explains Ruben. “We’ve down-tuned an entire scale, I’ve moved on to a 6-string bass, the tones are completely different. As of now we’re keeping our options open and adding more stuff to the songs.”

This album, too, will be produced by Anupam Roy, who has already become something of a legend in the Indian metal scene – akin to Scott Burns and the impact he had on the nascent death metal scene in Florida. “We’ve been working with Anupam for quite a while now,” says Ruben. “Besides being a producer he’s a great friend of ours and knows us as people, which is really important for the band. If you don’t know your guys, you cannot pull the best out of them. Because he knows us well he gets us to work harder. And if we want to push the boundaries on something and we tell him ‘let’s do something more with this’, he’s always game for it.”

Undying Inc also has a fantastic slot on the GIR 2009 bill to look forward to, which is why it comes as a surprise to hear ‘yeah, whatever’ as the reply when I question Ruben about it. “It is like any other gig; you have to give it 100%. We won’t play much better just because it’s GIR,” explains an equally calm Biswarup. “It’s a big platform for us but I’m not in awe of it.”

And therein lies the crux of the matter. Undying Inc just don’t give a damn. They play what they want, whether you like it or not. They treat each gig equally, who cares how many people show up? Every track is meticulously pieced together, so what if it takes 2 weeks instead of 2 days? Evolution is important, but once you’ve hit upon a formula that works for you – why bother changing?

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About Abhijeet Ahluwalia

Abhijeet Ahluwalia – I’m a freelance journalist who goes back and forth between London and Bombay. A huge metalhead, but I have an eclectic taste, from reggae to punk. Oh, and Manchester United are the greatest team in the world. Follow me on Twitter or drop me a line via Email.

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