India’s Heathen Beast are a prolific, if obscure, bunch. Having formed in 2010, the trio pumped out an EP almost every year, detailing the atrocities committed by their local government, the nonstop pollution of their environment, and the violent hypocrisy of the various religions coexisting in India. Each EP showed increasing musical growth and Eastern influences livening up their vitriolic black metal attack, until the band decided to inexplicably call it quits in 2016. Rumors abounded that the government got involved (hence, the anonymity) and shut the band down. All that is a moot point, as a particularly questionable act by their government warranted the release of $cam, bringing the band back to life, and switching their sound from Eastern-inspired black metal to more visceral grindcore.

And that act would be the demonetization of the 500 and 1000 rupee banknotes on November 8, 2016, the same day of the United States Presidential election. In a nutshell, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi decided to make those specific banknotes null and void. Problem is, those bills made up 86% of the cash flow of India, and in a nation that is mostly cash-reliant, chaos ensued. People were standing in lines that stretched for miles, trying to exchange their now-invalid banknotes at banks that were low on the newer notes. Needless to say, in trying to end corruption, the poor got royally screwed over. People died of shock and fatigue, waiting for hours to get to their banks. “Fuck Poor People, I Have Paytm” recalls this event in seething detail, with guitarist/vocalist Carvaka spitting vitriol over music that leans more towards Nails than Chthonic. The use of tabla still remains prevalent, but it’s not as prolific as it was on earlier releases. The band prefer to lay waste this time around instead of peppering their culture’s sound.

That switch of styles works in Heathen Beast‘s favor, for the most part. “If the Army Can Do It, So Can You” rages in Napalm Death-esque fashion, with lines such as “You were born into comforts and lots of wealth/Serving the nation is for someone else/But you got the balls, to stand very tall/in the line of the ATM” feeding the fury gloriously. Opener “Surgical Strike (De-Modi-Tization)” rips heads and goes for the throat throughout the song’s barely three-minute run time. None of the songs go past their expiration date of usefulness. They go in, lay waste to everyone around them, and then skedaddle when it’s time to go.

That said, there are a couple of issues plaguing $cam. “Bailing Out the Banks” starts with this weird bouncy riff that could fit in with Machine Head‘s bouncy-yet-sad nu-metal period, though they right that ship towards the end. “If You Disagree You Are Anti-National, Go to Pakistan” is the album’s only foray into Eastern scale work, and it’s a brief one at that. Part of Heathen Beast‘s appeal was their expert use of Eastern melodies in their attack. Go watch the video for “Contaminating the Ganges” off of 2012’s The Drowning of the Elephant God for further proof1. Hearing less of that aspect to their sound is a bit disappointing, but I also understand the need to sacrifice certain parts of your sound for a stronger message.

$cam succeeded in two aspects. One, it caused me to fly down the rabbit hole of information on India, and its equal parts beauty and ugliness. And just as importantly, it turned me on to yet another new band. I’m hoping Heathen Beast stick around a bit longer this time, and that they remain vigilant in getting their message out to the world. You could do far worse for 21 minutes of your time.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity India
Websites: heathenbeast.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/HeathenBeast
Releases Worldwide: June 1st, 2017

Show 1 footnote

  1. Just don’t do it on an empty stomach.

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  • h0ttentot

    Wow. That’s really nice.
    I was sad that i couldn’t find any good grindcore nowadays.

    Bonus for the Master Splinter pictures in the beginning.

  • Iain Gleasure

    Ah India, proof that terrible circumstances create great metal.

    • Nukenado

      I wonder if Al-Namrood sends promos out. I’d love to see them get reviewed.

      • Tofu muncher

        Yassss, thisss!! And Narjahannam. Whatever happened to those dudes? Love them.

        • Nukenado

          Their sound is not the best (I mean, they don’t have the time and equipment isn’t the best, and they can’t find a good drummer), but they’re just so… Passionate. Really passionate.

  • Kronos

    Great review, I am definitely going to check this out.

    • Kronos

      Upon hearing the full album, I declare this Kronos approved. Brutal enough.

      • AlphaBetaFoxface

        It is good shit. Some of the best grind I’ve heard since Wormrot’s last album.

        • Kronos

          I was thinking the same thing.

  • CongregationofFoxes

    This is really good! Just bought it and I don’t regret it even a little bit.

  • Diego Molero

    Not a fan of grind, but this sounds cool. The subject of the album is also interesting, it reminded me of my own country.

    • basenjibrian

      I think it can remind most people of their own countries. :(
      The human condition.

    • Nukenado

      Too bad my country has no metal scene.
      China… Sigh. If metal bands can perform why can’t we get some bands?

      • Diego Molero

        Believe me, I totally understand. I’m from Venezuela, our “music” scene is absolute shit

        • Nukenado

          Wonder what’s it like in Venezuela. In China it’s lazy manufactured pop. The kind that makes Justin Bieber seem like Johnny Cash.

          China has a boy band that is basically Jacob Sartorius*3. They’re the biggest band in China. I wish I was joking…

          • Diego Molero

            I have no idea who Jacob Sartorius is, but a quick Google search and I’m glad I don’t really know who he is. I don’t know any music from China, but I imagine it’s kinda like J or K-pop, right?

            As for Venezuela, believe me, you don’t want to know, it’s awful. Have you ever heard the word “reggaeton”?
            The biggest thing around here are a duo name “Chino y Nacho”, and they are awful (IMO.)

          • Nukenado

            Yeah, one of my classmates played Daddy Yankee for Spanish class. Umm… I felt… Weird, especially as someone who cannot get into rap or hip hop (Even RATM couldn’t get me.)

            Chinese pop music is like K-pop with all the energy sucked out.

          • Diego Molero

            Uhh, Daddy Yankee, he’s one of the biggest names in reggaeton, he is pretty famous around here. I like some rap or hip hop occasionally, but reggaeton it’s just awful. It’s even more awful if you understand what they are saying (as I do), I hate it, a lot.

            K-pop without energy, that sounds bad.

            Btw, you get Spanish classes in China?

          • Nukenado

            Nah, I’m currently studying in Canada. Still lived most of my life in China though, and I still keep up.

          • Diego Molero

            Ohh I see, that makes more sense.

  • Westpaceagle

    ‘Equal parts beauty and ugliness’ is a great descriptor. I have been lucky to have travelled pretty extensively and I tell people India isn’t another country, its another planet (compared to the west at least). But there is a beauty to the people (some) that is beyond compare and hard to describe. A spiritual, chaotic dream world.
    Anyway the music sounds pretty cool too!

  • Shaan

    I’m from India and I can vouch that the concept of this album is spot on. Too bad not many people will give this a listen since everyone is too busy fighting religious and political wars.

    • Dr. Scorpion

      Chuthye bhare hai yahan india mein!

  • rumour_control

    FANTASTIC perspective on India’s current condition, as well as the music being discussed here. All good all around, especially:
    “None of the songs go past their expiration date of usefulness. They go in, lay waste to everyone around them, and then skedaddle when it’s time to go.”

  • Nag Dammit

    Kicks arse. Love it.

  • Nukenado

    That ending in the video…
    I burst out laughing.

  • Malcolm in the Middle X

    I like the concept​ of grindcore more than I do the execution, when it comes to this style. This is very well done, and very enjoyable. Always pleasant to be treated to a serving of the right ingredients mixed well from a place you wouldn’t expect.

  • LExpoZiod

    I don’t like grindcore but I will buy this just on principle. I’m from India and I can confirm that they captured the complete shit show in the last few months perfectly. It’s sad when an underground metal band can make a better political statement than any of the opposition parties!

  • herrschobel

    exactly my thing !

  • Treble Yell

    An informative and well written review, Grymm. Bought the album. Metal’s power is in its ability to give a voice to the voiceless and rattle the cage of the establishment.

  • Tofu muncher

    haven’t seen this new one on iTunes (my only source of getting my music nowadays). Is it coming?

    • Carvaka Samkhya

      Yes our label normally releases everything on itunes. I will ask the label and update you. If you like they will send you the digital copy free with the t-shirt.

  • Nukenado

    Just realized something.
    Isn’t grindcore just “deathcore” by its literal definition?