Interview: Dirge

Doom metal is one of the underrepresented genres in the Indian metal bands. Dirge are one of the few doom metal acts in the country. Their debut release Ah Puch is inspired by Mayan and Aztec Mythology and channels the New Orleans sludge sound making it one of the most unique albums I’ve heard this year.

I spoke to the band ahead of the release of Ah Puch. Find out more about the album, the inspiration behind it and more.

Hi guys, you have been working on your debut album for some time now. How does it feel now that you are nearing the release date?

Dirge – Hey man! It surely does feel great seeing this album finally come to life. We’ve been working on it for the past four years while constantly playing these songs live and fine tuning them. For most of us, Dirge is the first band we’ve ever been a part of so initially it did take some time for us with the songwriting process and finding our own sound and getting it right.

How did the present line up of the band get together?

So we got a steady lineup together sometime in the late 2014 and played quite a few gigs across different cities for the next four years. But later, Prathamesh (our ex drummer) left the band because of some personal commitments. Vineet stepped in and it has been going pretty smooth since then.

Why did you decide to start a Doom metal band? What about the genre appeals to you?

We were heavily into bands like Candlemass, Katatonia, Acid Bath, Black Sabbath, Down, Autopsy, Eyehategod, Alice In Chains when we initially started exploring this genre. Basically everything that was heavy. The obsession kept getting stronger and we knew this is the kind of earth shattering music we wanted to write. The immeasurable sorrow in the sound, be it the melodies, the despairing vocals or the tremendously heavy riffs is what hit us really hard. It was a feeling unlike anything we’ve experienced till date. It’s simply mind blowing to see how much the whole Doom/Sludge sound has evolved over the years.   

The tracks on Ah Puch are inspired by Mayan and Aztec Mythology. What sparked the inspiration?

The concept of the album was derived as a interpretation of the music. We composed the riffs of our first song ‘Invoking The Demigod’ without setting any creative constraints to ourselves. On listening to the recordings from the jam room we brainstormed a conceptual outline of ‘Reincarnation of ancient gods’ for the songs. On doing a lot of research on ancient gods, we came across the history of the Yucatan peninsula and the culture of the civilisations of the region. The mythology of the Mayan civilisation, we felt, captured the feel of our compositions really well. So we decided our concept to be – the reincarnation of a Mayan god in the body of the king Montezuma during the Spanish conquest.

Ah Puch

The album was mixed by Sanford Parker (YOB, Eyehategod, Pelican, etc) and mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, High on Fire, Bell Witch, etc). How was it working with such well known producers?

Well it was pretty easier than we thought  it would be. One thing that was very clear in our minds since the very beginning was to get the sound right. We’ve been huge admirers of both Sanford and Brad for the work they’ve done with some of bands we look up to as major inspirations. They know the sound we’re looking for extremely well and that’s the reason we contacted them. We’re glad it all worked out so well. Special mention to Apurv Agrawal for engineering & playing a massive role in capturing the sound we were aiming for. Overall, it has been a huge learning experience for us.

What are your thoughts on the current state of doom metal/sludge?

Internationally speaking, there are tons of great bands out there who are constantly pushing the sonic boundaries of this niche style of heavy music. Amenra, YOB, Neurosis,Thou, Pallbearer, Monolord to name a few. There are some great festivals abroad like Roadburn,Desertfest etc dedicated solely to stuff like this. Talking about India, it’s a really sad state considering heavy music. There are hardly any bands anymore doing stuff like this currently. Primitv, Diarchy, Djinn & Miskatonic, Bevar Sea are the only active bands that we can think of. There’s not much of an audience here either and we hope that changes overtime.

What’s currently on your playlist?

Well these are some of the bands we’ve been listening to lately, Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Neurosis, Godflesh, Chelsea Wolfe, Ulver, Amenra, Conan, Thou, Monolord, Melvins, ISIS, Jungle, Diara to name a few.

Do you have any shows planned in the coming months?

Yes! We’re playing a couple of gigs in November. More info on that very soon!

Thanks for answering all my questions. Do you have anything else to add ?

Thanks for the interview. We’re just getting started and have a lot of new music we’re planning to record soon in the coming few months. Also, would like to thank all those who’ve helped us bring this album to life. If you like what we’re doing, support us by buying our Merch, T-Shirts, CDs etc. Really means a great deal to us. Keep it heavy and real!

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