Bloodywood – Rakshak Review

The first time I encountered Indian folk/nu metal band Bloodywood was through my Bandcamp feed, back in December of last year. They dropped “Gaddaar,” the first track from their first album of original songs, Rakshak, and I was immediately hooked. Soon after, a certain fuzzy lemur friend of mine informed me that this group was pretty well known already for their cover songs, but that they had been steadily dropping original singles over the last year or two, all of which were of high quality. Then, I learned that the band routinely directs their efforts and influence towards various charity and support works, including buying a local animal rescue service a new ambulance. In an instant, I became a big fan, and Bloodywood‘s debut LP climbed near the top of my most anticipated releases of 2022. I’m happy to report that it more than lives up to my expectations.

Bloodywood‘s approach to metal is, on the surface, similar to Linkin Park‘s in that they often combine rapped verses with sung choruses—utilizing both English and Hindi lyrics—backed by gym-ready riffs reminiscent of Hacktivist, We Butter the Bread with Butter, and even Dyscarnate. Look beneath those superficialities and you find a ton of cool Indian folk instrumentation playing along, particularly weighted towards woodwinds and festive drums. Additionally, Bloodywood writes more mature lyrics than the standard I expect from this scene, adopting decidedly uplifting, thoughtful, and/or activist attitudes. Most importantly, Rakshak never runs out of steam. It’s an elephantine stampede of fun that infuses every moment of its forty-eight minute runtime with catharsis.

Rakshak succeeds in no small part because it expresses complex human experiences through effortlessly accessible writing. My absolute favorite piece of evidence to that point is Song o’ the Year frontrunner, “Yaad.” Navigating the death of a best friend (specifically, a pet) with simultaneously mournful and reassuring textures, this song hits like a runaway train. It’s got great lyrics and a monumental chorus, plus an excellent solo. But the real showstopper is this galloping riff/beat combo that drives the pre-chorus, which sounds exactly like the rhythm of an excited dog thundering to greet me after a long time apart.1 Other highlights like the immense “BSDK;” the hook-laden “Chakh Le” and “Dana-Dan;” and the incredibly melodic “Aaj” and “Zanjeero Se” don’t strike my heart as deeply as “Yaad.” Nevertheless, these cuts cover a lot of ground to bolster the album with memorable choruses, groovy rhythms and riffs, and dynamic pacing.

Given how effective most of Bloodywood‘s songwriting and content choices are on Rakshak, it’s a shame that many tracks suffer at the hands of an unforgiving mix and master. “Jee Veerey” and “Endurant”—two songs which adeptly address issues surrounding mental illness and abuse/bullying, respectively—deserve a lot more breathing room. There are too many elements in play that fight tooth and tusk for the spotlight on the compressed soundstage. This makes it difficult for me to enjoy those wonderful folk instruments as they play counterpoint to the guitars and vocals in each song, which are quite good otherwise. Additionally, there are areas where the English rap lyrics could be improved. While “Dana-Dan” sports smooth, Tech N9ne-esque rapid-fire verses, others in “Gaddaar” and “Machi Basad” could use massaging in their phrasing and word choice to punch with greater poise and power. The rapper’s smoky vocal approach exacerbates the issue to a degree. It works well on more aggressive tracks but when applied to more sensitive and soft segments, he sounds somewhat detached.

Before I inevitably suffer the brutal swing of AMG Himself‘s Accursed Scythe of Firing for awarding a positive score to a nu-metal album, let me offer this disclaimer: Rakshak won’t change the minds of whomever rejects nu-metal on principle. I am not one of those people, and in turn found this record effortlessly enjoyable and highly rewarding. In light of that, I encourage anybody intrigued by this review to give Rakshak a fair shake. You might just find that Bloodywood crafted an energetic record worthy of your time and attention. It’s certainly worth mine!2


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Self-Released
Websites: facebook.com/bloodywood.delhi | bloodywood.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: February 18th, 2022

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Even after listening to “Yaad” for over two months, the damned thing makes me ugly cry whenever that gallop happens.
  2. Don’t be scared off by the 10 minute timecode on the embed—only the first half is the actual song. The other half is a nifty little PSA about their animal rescue efforts. Definitely worth checking out!
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