Mantra For Music
Abha Eli Phoboo
The love for metal was the magnet that brought the five friends together. They’ve stuck it through thick and thin, hanging by the strings of their guitar and the words they beat on their drums. Their mantra was music of the fundamental kind. Call them purist or what you will but X-mantra is a band steeped into metal music. Formed at the advent of the new millennium, their motive was to encourage the musicians of Nepal to concentrate on one genre and master it before leaping into another. Rajan, Puru, Rozesh and Pawan hit the charts as X-mantra, the Nepali metal band with their first album ‘Crying for Peace’. The first album did pretty well but it wasn’t as metal concentrated as their second album ‘Kurshi’ which has just been released.
‘Kurshi’ is a heavy album and the warning on its cover ‘Parental Advisory: Offensive Lyrics’ is not to be taken lightly. Seemingly influenced from the heavy western bands like Sepultura and Megadeth, the ‘Kurshi’ music is nearer to death metal. For this second album Rakesh joined them on the guitar. “We actually got together because we are sick of Nepali love songs,” say the band. In their first album, which was just testing the waters, they included an experimental genre with one slow love song. The second album is an intense collection of purely metal songs. “We do not believe in a bridled philosophy,” states Rozesh. “What we have in this album is just a reflection of reality. We don’t say we want peace, we just tell you what is happening.”
The vocals are the heavy distorted kind. It is a good idea to read the lyrics when you listen to this album the first time. Their ‘X’ stands for all that is vital and this mantra of rebellion is what their lyrics put together. The cover of the album has the picture of an ornate chair resting on the backs of tired bent-over Nepali junta. “We are politically conscious,” they share. “We write compose and arrange ourselves and some of our friends help us. We focus more on live concerts than recordings. This album is just about raising the issues that already exist.”
The issues? To listen to the music and the words hurled into it is to understand anger and dissatisfaction. “We speak for the young,” say the band. The title song “Kurshi” is symbolic of the fight for political power that has resulted in the meaninglessness of democracy here. Perhaps the most powerful and depressing song is “Jaa-Mar”, which means “Go Die”. Listeners should be warned not to listen to this song when in a depressed frame of mind.
X-Mantra reveals that most people ask them why they are spoiling Nepali music. “We use all western instruments and believe in pure metal music. We are all involved in the making. This is what we are comfortable with.” The band practices in a room that they rented together. The room is underground and to ensure that the neighbours are not disturbed, the band worked hard to make it sound proof. They collected egg-crates and plastered them over the walls. “We practice daily for two hours,” they share.
Heavy metal bands are famous for their devil-may-care and drink and drug image but X-Mantra projects a varied difference from the stereotype. “All of us have other jobs in manpower, web, business, advertising etc. Music is not enough in Nepal,” adds Rozesh. They divulge the fact that their families don’t much approve of their music but given that they also hold respectable jobs, their families give them rein. “That’s how we hang in a balance. We are sincere and honest in our performance. Drugs and alcohol take you nowhere.” What is the band’s mantra for music? Just honest drive, they assure you, with dedication and creativity. Their long-term goal is to reach out into the international arena because “metal is big out there”. They confide that they have begun sending out feelers in Malaysia. Next project is getting those demo tapes that will hopefully take them places.