Arogya – Supernatural
After making headway into European music markets with their 2021 album Genesis on the label Out of Line Music, North East dark synth-rockers Arogya dive deeper into emotional turmoil on Supernatural. Driving electronic and industrial rock-informed riffs charge the title track as well as sons like “Desire,” which are standout. They get a dramatic hook and marching-band drums going on “Queen of the Damned” and offer power-packed opening movements, like on “Spell.” But at some stage, Arogya either push a little too hard or not hard enough on Supernatural. There are some predictable elements on songs like “Fade Away” where no matter how much intensity they throw at it, there’s just no retention. “In My Hell” keeps the rattling modern metal riffs, and “Drifting Away” has scorching leads, but in their quest for keeping only anthemic choruses, Arogya’s experimental nature arguably takes a backseat on Supernatural.
Dreadhammer – Sovereign
At nine songs and about 39 minutes, Kolkata thrash metallers Dreadhammer make a worthwhile inaugural stomp into heavy music with their debut album Sovereign. If fist-tight, blistering riffage in the vein of bands like Megadeth, Kreator and Overkill is your jam, Sovereign is bound have you headbanging all the way through. Songs like “Atomic Pulse” are imposing, while “Back From the Void” kicks straight into fifth gear. Shouty vocals and near-psychedelic guitar solos on “Cold As Ice” are juxtaposed with rattling riffs on “Master of War.” They bring back their 2016 EP song “Might of Chaos” with its incisive edge intact and close with “Colors of Despair,” a more melodic and perhaps atmospheric tune that adds a modern touch to showcase great diversity from the band.
Muzzle – Love, Muzzle. EP
There’s little doubt that the Punjabi hip-hop and pop movement is going global, but beyond the starry headliners and millions-streamed artists, there are earnest voices working their way through independently, with a dogged determination. Muzzle is one of them and all he has is love to give, as one might note from his new EP Love, Muzzle. “Suroor” has the glowing guitar-inflected energy that can pulse through a club dancefloor and arena alike, while “Kyun,” rounds out the two tracks produced by Malo on the Beat with a buoyant but short take. Muzzle’s popular tune “Mirza” gets a slowed + reverb version that still retains the wistfulness of the original by beatsmith Premium. The EP closes with a mystique-heavy, synth-led menacing track “Guzara.” Muzzle is ethereal at times and shapeshifts well on his latest EP.
Avra Banerjee – Manoyatri
Composer and sarod artist Avra Banerjee might be holding down a leadership role in information technology in Australia, but he sure knows how to round up a top-notch team even in the Indian classical and jazz-fusion world, as heard on his new album Manoyatri. Everyone from saxophonist George Brooks, sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee, drummer Sambit Chatterjee and tabla artist Subhen Chatterjee, violinist Ambi Subramaniam, guitarist Rhythm Shaw and vocalist Mahalakshmi Iyer are among a total of 22 musicians featured on Manoyatri. The album deftly traverses the jam-friendly (“Vrindavan Sojourn”) and the devotional-informed (“Ganga Kaleidoscope”) along with pensive, classical-leaning compositions like “When Kailasha Muses” and “Yamuna Yearnings.”
JISR – Wah Wah!
Munich-based Mohcine Ramdan calls on Carnatic vocalist Ramamani R.A. and German guitarist and oud player Roman Bunka for a truly worldwide journey in groovy music on Wah Wah!, from the ensemble known as JISR. Recorded with Carnatic artists in Bengaluru in April 2022, JISR add Gnawa music from Morocco, Arabic Maqam, shimmering jazz-rock and more for a record that excites at every turn. The title track makes a wide-ranging opening statement, while “Samawi, Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma” melds an existing JISR track with a devotional song. “Heartsky” cycles through a glowing cadence and incorporates konnakol as well and that’s where the pace of Wah Wah! changes, with the soft-flowing “Dapa.” The collective picks up on faster, exuberant jazz tempos on “Afrodite” and there’s another Afro-Punjabi experiment in rhythms and vocals on “Myrocc, Laung Gawacha.” There are truly very few stones left unturned on Wah Wah! and we’re glad for it.
Sword – Uncertain EP
Hyderabad-origin Christian metal band Sword take a long and sometimes circuitous route on their three-track EP Uncertain with mixed results. With each song averaging at nearly six minutes, there’s a lot that gets packed in and not all of it seems necessary. The multi-act structuring of songs like “Andhera,” “Uncertain” (featuring guitarist Timothy Jonan) and “Moments” makes Sword’s post-hardcore, prog and nu-metal edged music a tad laborious to get through, but to their credit, the band’s messages of hope and a light at the end of the tunnel stay consistent. The result is one that can reel in pretty much any fan of modern metal, but you might not readily dive back for repeated listens.
Evermoon – Idylls EP
There’s something certainly escapist and pastoral about Bengaluru-raised, Germany-based artist Evermoon aka Tejas Ramakrishna’s recent EP Idylls. The four tracks are a reflection of time spent back home in India, but the universal idea of calm and comfort is very much there on songs like “Terrible and Sweet” and “Sleeptalk.” The latter has a technical prowess to the acoustic guitar melodies, even if its understated. After all, “Two Years” opens the EP as though it was right out of a Death Cab for Cutie or record, warm in its recollections but goes into a euphoric folk chant. Elsewhere, “My Kind of Love (Me Oh My!)” has a sweetness to it that recalls Iron & Wine as well, but Evermoon’s vocals push it in different directions.