Demonic Resurrection - DashavatarThere’s a storm lamp on the table, throwing shadows to the gable, and you swallow, if you’re able, on a storytellers night… Mythology is one of the most dependable constants in storytelling, as storytelling is, of course, mythology itself. Informing art with homages to everything from raging deities to otherworldly intrusions, the bold realm of heavy metal is no exception from its legendary influence. Mumbai’s Demonic Resurrection return with their fifth album Dashavatar to once again spearhead the deceptively burgeoning tumult of the Indian metal scene, furnishing our imaginations with destroyer gods and teaching spirits. It wasn’t until the Demon King record that I latched onto their brand of symphonic blackened death, an album I enjoyed for all of its high stakes Midian riffing and sweeping orchestrations. In the four years between releases, the band has made some clear revisions, and Dashavatar is an unequivocally altered beast, but is it a turn for the worst?

What made Demonic Resurrection initially enjoyable for me was their ability to fuse exotic chord progressions with archetypal Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth guitar lines. But their sound was still fundamentally derivative, and that kind of approach suffers, more than most, at the hands of the ever entropic law of diminishing returns. This time, band-leader Sahil “Demonstealer” Makhija, has reinforced this atypical template with something of a progressive melodeath structure, somewhere between latter-day Chthonic and the more recent thrashings of Melechesh. Dashavatar, which literally means ten avatars, outlines the story of the ten earthly incarnations of Vishnu, one of the Hindu supreme beings, and it’s a perfect narrative fit for this hugely bombastic album. Previous record Demon King exhibited an evolution of the band’s basic symphonic habits into a more power metal informed fusion; Dashavatar hones the concept into a multifaceted, and indeed multi-armed, beast.

Avatar number one, “Matsya – The Fish,” opens with some slightly spurious narration until the song erupts into a sitar-laden riff and melancholic lead from guitarist Nishith Hegde, who dominates the album with acrobatic and consistently emotive soloing. The opener weaves in and out of intelligent time signatures and extravagant melodies, full of pummeling blast beats and thrashy reprieves, even boasting an incredible sitar solo. Immediately the symphonic elements feel less analogous with the band’s influences and are instead coupled more with the kind of keyboard driven melodrama of A Night at the Opera era Blind Guardian. Although characterized by the folk elements that inform the band’s nature – each track flourishes with indigenous instrumentation – there is a distinct power metal dynamic that underpins the air-tight riffing. Demonstealer’s vocals vary from a harsh bark to a more guttural growl, but it’s the inclusion of sporadic cleans that offer the most variety, adding new layers to the high drama of”Kurma – The Tortoise” and “Budda – The Teacher.”

Demonic Resurrection 2017

If I had one complaint, and it is a small one, it would be the slightly jumbled song order. The latter half of Dashavatar is packed full of serious quality but is questionably arranged. After one of the strongest opening four track runs in recent memory, “Narashima – The Man-Lion” and “Parashurama – The Axe Wielder,” two brilliant but very similar songs, sit back to back and have a mild tendency to blur together. Similarly, the record’s two slowest pieces are coupled at the end of the album, and it staggers the fluidity of the pacing somewhat. However, the quality of the cuts, for the most part, allays any fears of the dreaded mid-album decline and even manages to scythe through the gravitational compression of the production.

Dashavatar, without question, allows Demonic Resurrection to shake off the raiment of their much-mimicked forebears and introduce their myriad followers to a new age of self-characterization. Songs like “Krishna – The Cowherd” employs an Amorphis folk vibrancy whilst the cyclonic “Rama – The Prince” shudders with death metal urgency. It’s always been refreshingly black and white to me how closely heavy metal sticks to the themes implied in the nomenclature of song titles — Dashavatar wields the principal as a veritable Virgil-esque spirit guide, and the final product is a coruscating display of rich, genre-spanning metal that not only progresses Demonic Resurrection as a band, but also engenders the advance of the genre as a whole. May Dashavatar introduce Demonstealer and his cohorts, armed with their own ample mythology, to a new pantheon of Western accolades.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self Release
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: March 15th, 2017

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  • a glass o’ milk

    man you guys really have a 4-and-better-streak at the moment, do you? :D but March is truely insane in terms of outstanding releases.

    • Dr. Wvrm

      “You guys”
      /implying anyone but Ferrous Beuller has been responsible for the solid uptick in score averages in the last month :P

      • Ferrous Beuller

        Don’t be that guy. I just review better albums….!

        • Dr. Wvrm

          It’s pure, unfettered jealousy.

  • That embedded track got me. I’ll have to check this out asap! Also great review, all the band names you mentioned are pretty huge so there’s no reason I wouldn’t like this.

  • AndySynn

    I’ve always enjoyed these guys (fun fact – I actually booked them their first UK headline date several years ago) but felt like they still needed some sort of added “x-factor” to push them to the next level.

    Previously that Melodeath-meets-Power-Metal-with-a-bit-of-Black-Metal mix was a lot of fun, in a Keep of Kalessin, lots of style, not always that much substance, kind of way, but I definitely feel like the addition of more traditional Indian instrumentation and melodies, plus the culturally-specific subject matter, has done them a world of good and made them a much more distinctive entity.

    • Demonstealer

      thanks Andy :) We need to do a few shows together sometime.

      • AndySynn

        That would be… lovely.

        Also, if no-one else from the NCS crew has called dibs on it, I’ll try and get a review done myself. Got a few interesting things to say about it, which I think might make for a nice angle.

        • Demonstealer

          No one has called dibs yet I think and I would love to read your review :)

  • Levly

    Great review, I’m duly hyped :). I have enjoyed all of Demonstealer’s work, but you’re right that it started pretty derivative. Fortunately, there is a clear progression from one record to the next and this one seems to be the best one yet, so hurray!
    And what’s not to like about a concept record themed after the avatars of Vishnu? I’m really glad they are using their particular background to greater effect, that’s the most logical and interesting way to stand out from the pack.

  • Agalloch90

    I’m from Mumbai, India. I had never heard about them and that is a shame. Thanks to you Sir, I’m gonna give it a listen and maybe I’ll meet them and have a beer.

    • Demonstealer

      we playing on Sunday at Khar Antisocial. Maybe we can catch you there :) Show starts at 7pm :)

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        That’s an awesome thing you have going there with incorporating sitar into Metal. More sitar please!

      • wrathzombie

        When are you coming to Bangalore

        • Hulksteraus

          Hell, when are you coming to Australia! Love it when bands utilise their own countries mythologies and instruments into their art. Metal is a global phenomenon and it is a joy to hear quality bands from all over the world introduce us to their own stories and myths. Keep it coming!

          • Demonstealer

            hey we would love to come to Australia just that it’s too expensive flying over and we’re not big enough to handle that kind of expense right now, hope it happens sooner than later though.

        • Demonstealer

          working on a date for april/may

  • LExpoZiod

    Good to see these guys from my home country getting some love. In a country where there are so few bands in the metal scene and even fewer of any kind of quality, these guys really are the standard bearers for Indian metal. And they’re using their cultural influences in a way that doesn’t seem forced of unnatural, which is really nice to see. Great album and great review!

    • Demonstealer

      thanks bro :D

  • metalcasket

    This is the perfect complementary album to Aeternam’s Ruins of Empires. Fantastic stuff!

  • Dr. Wvrm

    This album definitely has some sticking power. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it rear its ugly mug come the end of the year.

    We’re only 3 months in, but between this, Serenity in Murder, Undrask, Ex Deo, Nailed to Obscurity, and Aeternam, 2017 has been so right for melodic/symphonic death metal. I didn’t think anything was going to touch last year in that regard, but we’re already pretty damn close.

    • Demonstealer

      thank you for the kind words.

  • Carl Redfern

    There’s a lot to be interested in here. I love that there’s a whole new mythology to explore.

    • New? Lol

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        haha yes… I mean’t new for metal…

        • Matt Vogt

          Kicked out of Redfern, sent back to Marrickville? Tough place, Sydney…

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Yeah it’s rough as hell man!

  • Eli Valcik

    I completely understand that this is good stuff. But I can’t seem to get into death metal like this. It seems too clean or polished for me, and just like my opinion on Aeternam the Indian instrument just seems to add to that factor, for some reason.

  • sir_c

    The video does not really do it for me, frankly. Maybe it needs more time, but I’ve already had a shitload of brilliant stuff recently, like Venenum, Wormwood, Pallbearer.
    Any chance of reviews of Illimitable Dolor by the way? This fits really well within aforementioned bands and is 4+ for certain.

    • Ferrous Beuller


  • This sounds incredible. Very deft blending of the sitars/orchestra/choir with the rest of the band, too. It’s not always an easy balance to pull off. More often than not it can sound like a battle of band versus orchestra instead of presenting as a unified piece.

    Very strong on all levels. Can’t wait to hear the rest!

    • Demonstealer

      thank you :)

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    I just realized that a Slam Death Metal band with a lead sitar player would be an awesome thing. Why doesn’t such a thing exist?

    • John Mosley

      The Trump travel ban. Bastard.

  • herrschobel

    hoho that cover….man i hope i like this …the cover is fantastic..
    is this a Bane sample in the beginning ? a few minutes inside this Beast and yeah .. i rrrrrrrrrrrrrreally like this … makes me want to smash stuff and swallow the sun…which is usually a good sign

  • madhare

    The embedded track didn’t get me. But listening to the whole thing on Bandcamp did! Good stuff.

    • madhare

      Sorry to repeat my point, but I’ve now been listening to the album all day… And it’s really damn good. Definitely worth the 4.0.

      I’ve been keeping a sort of half-eye open on the Demonstealer and Demonic Resurrection stuff. But this is the first one that grabs me by the balls.

      But Mr Demonstealer Sir. One wish, if I may? Next time place all the prologue and interlude stuff (like your monologue on god) in separate tracks. Those things are fun to listen on the very first times as they build the overall atmosphere. But after about 3-4 plays I tend to tire of them. So it’s nice if you have the option to disable those tracks.

      • Demonstealer

        I know what you mean, we normally do that except this time I wanted to have exactly 10 tracks on the CD hence the decision to keep it together.

  • Nag Dammit

    This is how to make power metal influenced metal sound good. Loving Varaha: The Boar, great vox and the leads are properly epic. Awesome album and a big jump on from their last.

  • DaveSt

    This is close to my favorite album of the year so far. Really interesting touches added throughout and certainly different subject matter. I can’t say I understand most of the references, but still really well done.

  • Good stuff. It’s more like DR with touch of Odious to it.