Guwahati-based Rectified Spirit are a unique band. It’s not just difficult to classify their progressive, groovy yet classic and extreme metal into any existing genres. In fact the band defy and are averse to genre-categorizations. Instead they prefer to be called a “libero metal” act. We spoke to guitarist Samudragupta Dutta about their self-titled debut album, their metal about their upcoming India tour “Road To Paradigm” where they will performing in Gangtok, Pune and stopping by in Mumbai on September 26 to perform at Bombay Asylum Vol IV Brutal Assault, at Club Escape, Andheri.
You guys enthralled us unsuspecting audiences earlier this year at your first gig in Mumbai at the Rolling Stone Metal Awards. How did that come about?
We seriously don’t know how to answer this one because we are ourselves are trying to understand that. We didn’t know what sort of a reaction to expect from you guys, we just went out and played our thing. We knew that our music would be totally new to you people, and the live performance by this sort, a totally alien band with its somewhat strange take on metal music would have effects that could be only polar opposites. It could be either great or simply disastrous. But when we saw you people cheering for us, head-banging and moshing on the ground, we were slightly out of our depths. It also made us think if we were making only regular, predictable music with nothing new to offer. But then we were reminded that the metal crowd always shows its approval and appreciation. The same was reinforced when individual feedback from people convinced us that they liked our music for what it is and not by expecting something out of us that we are not.
Your music is a unique mix of several genres - even a critic would be confused on how to dismiss your music! Why the need to create music that’s a mixture of so many styles in times when people are all too eager to slot your music in a narrow category?
Basically, the bottom line is that we don’t want to stick to one fixed and particular form, genre or style rigidly. We would like to call it, or rather this attitude, as libero metal and it would signify for us the idea of being liberated from all pre-existing forms of styles and stereotypical habits of genre consciousness. To be more specific, while making music, a band is not at all aware what kind of genre label is going to be used to describe its music over the years by the press and by its listeners. Genre is something that evolves throughout a period of time and even debates may ensue between its fans with regards to what type of description can be given to the band. However, if the band takes upon itself the same exercise even while making its music and adheres to one typical sort of genre that has already existed in the world, then the music stops evolving and it merely revolves around a few reference points in terms of a few pre-existing genres and even bands. This thing limits the finer parameters of music making and also restricts the musical sensitivity of individual musicians which leaves no scope for openness and a free spirited approach towards making music. That is why, now-a-days we constantly hear bands saying “We are a metalcore band”, “We are a technical death metal band”, “We are a neo-classical progressive metal band” and all such restricting definitions. This also makes the music that comes out, strained, repetitive, dragged and predictable. Well the bands which have earned these genre labels were not aware of what the band was going to be labelled over a period of time. These bands have earned the genre descriptions on their own. And some bands even dispute the kind of label that the press gives them. Therefore, the idea of deciding a set and fixed genre is something that appears absurd to us and is also artistically restricting, limiting and stagnant. Toni Iommi, the undisputed founder of the roots of heavy metal, when asked by a quite enterprising journalist, had retorted back by saying “What the fuck is that?”
Your music is contemporary of course, progressive too, yet there are strains of classic metal in it. Is it deliberate or is it just a result of your influences?
Surely, the music is not the result of any kind of deliberation. If we have been influenced by varied kinds of metal, we would not deliberately and hypocritically stop ourselves from getting inspired by all of them. We would definitely let all those styles flow into our creative consciousness, no matter how different they may be from each other and won’t say things like “How can we play this riff because we are not death metal?” “How can we play this beat as we are technical thrash metal?” The idea is to create without any restrictions and without having pre-determined identities decided for ourselves. The amalgamation of all these myriad influences should create something unique, nice, beautiful, valuable, sensible, meaningful, worthwhile and most importantly coherent, and the only criteria for us is that a track should sound right and perfect to ourselves. And get liberated from all preconceived, predetermined and pre-decided identities.
Could you please elaborate on the concept behind the cover artwork of your debut album, “Rectified Spirit”?
This album art is an official introduction to the band’s mascot Phynn who is a human being in the image of a Phoenix and can also be viewed as a sort of mutant or crossover. It represents the immortality of the human spirit. Its depiction centres around the theme of re-incarnation and conveys an idea that the human soul is in the perennial cycle of evolving and rectifying itself and each human birth that it takes, is only a stage in that never-ending process wherein, the soul puts into effect the lessons learnt from all its previous births and becomes a Rectified Spirit. Phynn, as shown in the album, is amidst a tumultuous environment created by each of the elements namely fire, earth, air and water. However, the indomitable spirit of Phynn (and thereby the undying spirit in each one of us) is standing tall with the strength of the same elements that constitutes all of us. It is also metaphorical of the idea that all the troubles we face in the outside world have a solution inside our very selves.
(“Rectified Spirit” is available in Mumbai at The Headbangers Store online )
That’s brilliant, far more thought-provoking than most metal artworks. What kind of music do you guys listen to? It seems like each band member brings his own influence to Rectified Spirit’s sound.
Yeah, that is absolutely right. We all listen to a crazy number of different bands. However, the good thing is that during the composition process, all these myriad of influences melt into a big cauldron. The band’s influences rage from Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon, Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Testament, Annihilator, Kreator, Dream Theater, Symphony X, lamb of God, Inflames, Periphery, Born of Osiris to Slipknot, Protest The Hero. Basically, the band takes influences from all the different genres of heavy metal and is in the perennial cycle of evolving their individual style with an absolutely liberal approach and without any genre restrictions.
Based on your previous gig experience in Mumbai, how would you compare the experience from that of performing in Guwahati?
There is an uncanny similarity between the way bands from outside are treated in both the cities. We are like extra hospitable to bands that come from distant cities only to perform for us and we have experienced the same kind of beautiful, warm and genuinely hospitable treatment in your wonderful city. Co-incidentally there is a wide prevalence of calling our mother as “aai” in both Assam & Maharashtra. Last but not the least, Mumbaikars are genuine and real kickass metalheads just like us!
Please tell our readers and Mumbai fans of how they should prepare themselves for your show at Bombay Asylum Vol IV Brutal Assault on September 26.
People can have an idea of what this band is all about by checking out the album, which is already available online:
For those who want to have an idea as regards the visual as well as stylistic aspect of the band, there is one song that is kind of representative of all the myriads of influences that the band has had over the years, that kind of represents the band’s overall style and approach towards music making. Watch:
- Catch Rectified Spirit perform in Mumbai alongside Providence, Orion and Wired Anxiety at Bombay Asylum Vol IV Brutal Assault on September 26 , Club Escape, Andheri. Entry Rs 500 (general) and Rs 300 (students). Tickets also available online at discounted rates of Rs 400 (general) and Rs 250 (students). Buy here. More details here.