Thinking Out Loud

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Melodrama: Souleaters

Monday, July 19, 2010

If you were ever young and in love, angry on cranky parents- snobby teachers and gossipy ex-girlfriends and had a head swimming with not just cheap Jack Daniel’s booze but also with head-bob stimulators like- Lost prophets, Avenged Sevenfold, Union Underground and American Head Charge (to name these guys' most barefaced sound-alikes), you may be willing to excuse Melodrama's in-your-face denial of pansy commercial trends and the present day predominance of Paris Hilton/Edward Cullen gaga.

Metal is, in a very fundamental characteristic, about finding a ‘parallel universe’ and a society in blissful isolation (Dear Headbanger, No offence). It also, sometimes opens up the potential to find nothing- the clear prospect of getting lost in a haze of delirium and eerie irks. While both ways lead to their own special forms of transcendence, it’s pretty harmless to say that the second adaptation might be- in most ways commanding than the first; to discover a reality within another-out of thin air- is to incarcerate oneself to a fresh contented veracity that rebuffs the preceding one as seclusion kicks in, while to find oblivion in oneself incites direct altercation with the reality already given, forcing the person into an eternal ‘trekker’ status, an invariable ecstasy of the world where the mind and the body remain forever in flux.

The hollow non-appealing harangue that you just read is a semi-extraneous upsurge to showcase a hybrid metal band from Nagaland that is making waves with its abrupt second up-rise. Melodrama with Imlinungsang on vocals, Among and Akum on guitars, Shashimeren on bass and Wapangtemje on drums is the band in subject (Yes, I know I’ve mentioned the band name earlier!).  


The rabid- almost trippy, sturdy sound of post-metallers Melodrama unravels the world to multi-linear metal-manners, opening the mind to the determinist presence of dreams within our ever-so-scientific reality. Our bodies are relentlessly strained into displacement from any and all milieu, the milieu itself woven just like human-kind’s ever so rapidly increasing history: a series of contrasting events tailored into patchy, forever imperfect narratives. The electronic stifled yowls by Imlinunsang serve as backdrop, a backdrop that virtually whirrs on and on as a soft bass channel whispers its song in words and languages that are not ours to comprehend, for there is no comprehension to be done or felt here, only pure experience, dreamlike words-as-sound and  Fear factory-styled noisy moments of tranquility.

As such, there’s a blotchy assortment of sound types to be heard with Melodrama, from guitar breakdowns to melodic death breakbeats, Nu-metal consoles and noises fashioned by ‘mis-using’ instruments, amid a crowd of electronic whines that stream in and out of  ‘easy on the ear’ awareness. As the archaic character flourishes and implants ciphers and imaginings upon every object seen - the instruments lose their representation and are steadily defeated by the feels and the environment, they become part of a vista of sounds that lay inherent in our existence as human beings- sounds of anger, betrayal and hatred that mankind has faced throughout its existence ; shunning taxonomy and labeling, we let the ‘madness’ take over and find the answers reason fears, the realities that reason laughs at to minimize their clout and ostentation. The technicalities of their sonatas come unambiguous by a unobtrusive outline, the flow of speech plotted by the low yet violent sound of Shashimeren’s four-stringer in rapt stability, the continuity of the trip broken by fluent time-signature changes, perhaps portraying the instability of the human mind. To be able to completely understand Melodrama’s approach in music-one has to change the manners in which he looks and attends to the world around him. This band is a step beyond the usual attempts in Nu-metal, deep-seated upon the last pale huffs of humanist understanding but budding diligently, more explicitly and strongly into the province of individual multiplicity and its honest relation to the world.

“When we founded the band almost two years back, it was just an explosion of ideas. We all shared the same broad interest in different styles of music. So when we entered the rehearsal room, all kinds of math, thrash, death, black, progressive, rock ambient stuff came out. It was a bizarre process- putting all of those sounds into a singular pattern of melodies. In the end it was a true statement to ourselves to create a solid and wide open musical perspective to work with as we always wanted our musical palette to be as big as possible, with all extremes available.”

Melodrama came together as a fad ‘Hybrid-metal’ project in late 2008 over a string of casual jams in and around neighborhood hangouts. A week before Nagaland’s premier Summer-jam show 2009 in Dimapur, the band decided they wanted to compete, brought in Atsung Jamir as their manager and threw together a demo overnight. When they found themselves among the chosen finalists- they knew they had something at hand. “We got together as Melodrama with a primal need to feed our musical desires- to play original and distinctive music. This was in itself a reaction to the heavily stagnant market of bands mostly and only playing covers. When we got together- all of us collectively resolved - ‘we need to change this!’ ” Says guitarist Akum.
Having played a few small shows in and around Nagaland, the band’s exposure was limited to their state and not many people felt the breeze of their sound. But word about their musical dexterity and sky-scraping-octane stage act began to travel within the metal fraternity, even though the band had only one scuff sample on their MySpace page. Melodrama broke through finally in the National Level Beat Contest in 2008, when they played to their largest audience so far and made an impression on listeners, bands and producers alike. “They’re good, they’re extremely tight and they have some very alarmingly new ideas.” says Manager/ Guitarist Babylon Bhuyan. “For a band, so new- they’re VERY brutal!”

Weapons of Mass Destruction:
Vocalist Imlinunsang Jamir uses Shure Mics and Ahuja Megaphones(yes, you read it right-Refer to pictures-for added amazement!!!). Back-up Guitarist Akum Jamir uses schecter guitars and Bcb 60 pedal poards. He also uses Planet-wave cables and normally plays with Metal-zone, delay, phaser and compression sustainer distortions. Among their lead Guitarist uses a Cort electric six-stringer and a RP 500 Digitech processor. His Distortion usage varies with all of his live and studio set-ups. Sashimeren Pongen uses a fender four-stringer and Boss Equalizers. Drummer Wapangtemje Walling uses Mapex Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Tama Iron cobra pedals and Vic firth- 2A sticks. Their manager Atsung Jamir is the guy mostly behind the sound console.  

 Influence Gamut:
“As a band, we all listen to a variety of genres and artists- ranging from Folk stuff like Abiogenesis to really Heavy bands like Lamb of God, Arch Enemy and Marilyn Manson. I personally am inclined towards Soft numbers and that is where I mostly derive my inspiration from. I love Paul Gilbert and Dimebag Darell. Our Vocalist listens to a lot by Dani Filth. Wapangtemje is crazy about Portnoy. Shashimeren listens to a LOT of stuff- so it’s hard to trace his influences. However, he really respects Cliff Burton. Among lives, breathes and listens to Joe Satriani-almost all day!!! On the National level, we really appreciate DR and Joint Family. They’re absolute stunners! We also like Lucid Recess and Digital Suicide a lot- their sounds are very unique. Dementia and Off from Nagaland are also very influential and tight bands.” Says Akum. 

Behind the music:
Much of the praise for the Nagaland boys is heaped on a young singer/guitarist Imlinunsang Jamir, whose lyrics can and have been compared to luminaries like Durst and Jonathan Davis by the hyperbolic. A humble Jamir with his heavy street accent says “Everytime I’m on stage, or when I’m making a song in our jampad I try to speak to my generation. I think of age and time, of what life can and does do to many. My lyrics are mostly obsessed with Human weaknesses, traits and fascinations.”
“We hope to promote peace, Goodwill, brotherhood and a greener and cleaner Earth with our music. It’s not just a transcendence of our inner-feelings; we recognize this alliance as a chance to make others aware of what they ought to be aware of.” Adds drummer Wapangtemje.    
They acknowledge the stability of their line-up as a determining factor for the progress of their band-both sound and demeanor-wise- “We have grown tighter as a unit and this has had a positive impact on the progress of our music and songwriting. With five people in one band and everyone being as important as the other, there are so many directions songs can go in and many different that keep coming. Slowly, we understand each other better and deeper and so the assortment of styles within the Melodrama resonance is growing. This has a lot to do the fact that the line-up has been steady for a while so we’ve gotten to know each other as friends also.”

About the scene:
“We think and know for sure that Hard Work pays. Exploring and experimenting with one’s sound is also an essential dynamic There are unfortunately too many bands out there, who seem to be putting on phony personalities-trying act, look or sound cool. The sound bit is ok- the rest does not really appeal to us. “
Guitarist Among comments: “I feel Indian bands need to work harder at being more soulful. A band is about working together not being an addition of puzzled parts. The scene is getting better- I admit but, the soul of the music still needs more originality. Musicians, fans and organizers are often very narrow-minded in terms of appreciating a wider gamut of musical styles which is a very sickening factor in the scene-today. The mainstream music scene in the country is, to be very candid, a little dreary and tedious- although production and prowess have really got better with time.”

Famous Last words:
“Melodrama wouldn’t have been possible without our fans, god and the support of our loved ones. We only wish for everybody in the scene to broaden their vision and to learn to respect any band or artist who is doing their own thing with fervor and veracity. All of us need to realize that we’re all in this together.”    


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