Arogya – Genesis Review

Sometimes you see something so oddball in the promo sump, all you can do is roll the dice of fate and grab it. When I saw that Indian act Arogya billed themselves as 80s-centric “synth-rock” with metal influences, I simply couldn’t pass up what was sure to be a steaming dumpster fire of colliding genres and styles. Add to this the band’s image, which sits someplace between Crimson Glory and Slipknot and you have quite the promotional package waiting to hit the world like a frozen bratwurst. As it turns out, this motley crew actually borrows influences from several genres and decades, and I actually hear more of the early 2000s nu metal and alt-rock sound in their debut full-length Genesis than I hear 80s worship. The material sits at the crossroads of metal, goth, alt rock, electronica, and screamo, and there’s even a bit of djent and death metal mixed in for shock/schlock value. Of course none of this should work at all and it seemed a fail safe way to lower my yearly rating average. But something strange happened to Steel on the way to the trashing bin.

Things open with some quirky keyboard effects on “Sky Afar” before the music lapses into early aughts style goth electronica. The keyboards dance prominently, undergirded by hard edged riffs and over it all floats the clean, laid back vocals of frontman Rain. It’s like a more poppy version of Lacrimas Profundere or H.I.M. mixed with the sleazy strip club synth metal of Crematory. It’s just catchy enough to keep you listening, especially since Mr. Rain has a pleasant voice and the chorus delivers a good sized hook. The big guns hit with follow up track “Dust.” This is the classic example of a song you laugh at the first time you hear it, then realize you can’t get it out of your freaking head. From there you will travel through the Five Stages of Song Grief, moving from denial to anger, bargaining, more denial, and finally, shameful acceptance peppered with hate. Hateful acceptance. This thing seems so simple in concept and execution, but the mix of electronica, goth and nu metal in the exact right quantities is fiendishly slick and highly effective. It ends up so annoyingly catchy you can’t escape its Shelob-grade webbing. I’ve been beating this song into the dirt for a week and I can’t shake myself free. You can thank me later for leaving this on your doorstep in a burning paper bag.

Most of the songs on Genesis have some degree of this sticky immediacy, and cuts like “Broken,” “Lonely Night Descends,” and “Lies” will put the ear worms on you if you open the door wide enough. “Break Free” could have been penned by H.I.M. at their peak, and closer “Throne” sounds  like Pyramaze trying to write top 40 pop. The only song that doesn’t click is “Charade,” which is ironic as it’s heaviest track by far, incorporating djent and lots of screamo/core vocals. They tie this into all sorts of electronica abuse with bloops and bleeps fighting harsh riffing, and it’s all a big, sloppy mess. Fortunately it’s the shortest song and easily skipped. At a tight 38 minutes there’s not much of a time commitment and since 90% of the material is so immediate and hooky, the runtime flies by.

This isn’t the kind of album where it’s necessary to heap praise on individual performers. The music is very basic and stripped down by design. Riffs by Deadnoxx and Mr. G are simplistic, but they work to drive the songs forward. Keyboards often take center stage over the guitars and are at least as important in the overall sound, but the keyboardist is uncredited. The vocals by Mr. Rain are the key to the whole enchilada. He doesn’t have what I would call a broad range, but the songs don’t require that. He sings in a restrained, slightly gothy croon for much of the album, only elevating his delivery on choruses or key accent points. He often sounds like a laid back version of Ville Valo (H.I.M.) with occasional moments of Kristofer Dommin (Dommin) creeping in. His forays into screamo and faux-death metal are used sparingly and because of that they have greater impact. His voice won’t blow anyone away, but he will keep you listening. This is all about the effective writing and the end product is a great example of less being more musically speaking.

I definitely didn’t expect to like this and I’m kind of embarrassed that I do. Such is life in the promo sump I suppose. Sometimes you get the fish and sometimes you get catfished by Bollyknot. This will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s such slick, commercial stuff that if you give it half a chance you may just end up Arogya‘s next victim. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Shame!


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Out of Line Music
Websites: arogyaband.com | arogya.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: April 23rd, 2021

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