For some years now, vinyl collectors have joyously noted that the cloud and just-a-click-away music has helped, rather than hindered the gravitas and vintage cool of their favoured format. When Bangalore’s metal bands start to put their albums out on LP, though, we do the old record-scratch-rewind. What happened to CDs producing more crystalline sound and Soundcloud as the best way to reach fans?
It may seem strange to put a genre that regularly stages Loudness Wars on delicate vinyl, but we guess cutting lathes are much stronger than they used to be.
City metal band Kryptos put out their last album, Burn Up The Night, as an LP disc late last year. Their small and expensive printing -- 200 copies at Rs 2000 each -- has now sold out, according to the band. Every metal head we spoke to suggests that the last year has shown the clearest signs yet that Bangalore’s metal-heads are also hipster collectors. [bpb Mumbai editor’s note: Typical Bangalore.]
It may seem strange to put a genre that regularly stages Loudness Wars on delicate vinyl, but we guess cutting lathes are much stronger than they used to be. “It’s about understanding the beauty of the format,” says Ganesh Krishnaswamy, founder of Kryptos, who disdains the word “trend” when we bring it up. He should know -- with his own collection of hundreds of LPs, Ganesh certainly hears the warmth radiate through his player. Since accessibility has improved, he says, metal bands -- and music lovers -- are more comfortable experimenting with analog sound.
The three-year old metal record store Mahatobar has seen “a ten to twelve percent expansion of new clientele, and at least a twenty percent increase in business from regular clients” in the last year, says Vikram Bhat, who owns Mahatobar, and is the frontman of Bangalore legend Dying Embrace. (Their 2014 album, the band’s first release in ten years, also came out on LP). Mahatobar, which opens by appointment to listeners and buyers, has experienced a significant uptick in the number of Facebook inquiries from listeners looking for metal on vinyl.
Vinyl Resting Place
Another, smaller source of change may be renewed interest in Indian metal from labels abroad, where there’s a committed market for metal on vinyl. Bangalore sludge band Shepherd also had a compilation of unreleased tracks picked up by the American label Helmet Lady, and released everywhere, including in India, as Stereolithic Riffalocalypse. Deepak Raghu, drummer of Shepherd, tells us that this is especially helpful because “the infrastructure to print LPs in India is pretty limited. To this end, you will see more collaborations of Indian bands with European and American labels”.
“The LP is essentially a collectible,” says Vilasini Mudaliar, co-founder of metal music promoters Headbangers India. “The entire feel of a vinyl, including the artwork”--of particular importance to heavily stylised, symbol-laden metal aesthetics-- “is what makes it cool to own.” Hey, snarky Mumbai editor: this is what a real Demonic Resurrection looks like.
Getting there: See Mahatobar’s Facebook page here.
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