03. Zanjeero Se
04. Machi Bhasad
05. Dana Dan
06. Jee Veerey
10. Chakh Lee
The greatest ideas can often come from the simple act of dicking about. BLOODYWOOD began life as a fervently internet-based phenomenon — the New Delhi band launched themselves via metal covers of popular Bollywood hits. After a re-recorded version of LINKIN PARK‘s “Heavy” caught the attention of international metal media, BLOODYWOOD started to ride a wave of interest and intrigue, releasing their debut album “Anti-Pop Vol.1” in 2017. Five years on, “Rakshak” offers a very different proposition. The covers are gone, replaced with ten self-penned anthems, all still predicated on the same wild and irresistible hybrid of crushing post-’90s metal and euphoric samples from Bollywood soundtracks and Indian classical music. The great news is that even with the novelty value of their early works erased, BLOODYWOOD still make a wholly unique racket, with the gently otherworldly allure of those samples providing a consistent red line through a surprisingly diverse set of songs.
The key to appreciating “Rakshak” lies in understanding exactly how demented this band’s live shows are guaranteed to be, particularly when they hit the European and US festival circuits. Whether you like the lurching grooves of nu-metal or not, BLOODYWOOD‘s formula is both brutally heavy and, thanks to the band’s endless ingenuity, relentlessly entertaining. Mad-eyed and explosive, opener “Gaddaar” says it all: five minutes of raucous, party metal riffing, esoteric percussion and bullish, bellowed refrains, it sounds like the happiest riot of all time. The impact its dynamics, breakdowns and moments of psychotic euphoria will have on festival crowds is unquestionable. Likewise, “Aaj” is all post-KORN stomp and skull-rattling EDM rhythms, with spiraling flutes providing a mist of mysticism and unapologetic pop hooks bursting from all angles. Another righteous party starter, “BSDK.exe” sees BLOODYWOOD blending grim, death metal churn with skittering trap beats and thuggish, deathcore slams, while “Dana Dan” blurs boundaries between old-school rap-rock and the cutting edge of 21st century tech-metal. Again, many people are going to incur minor injuries when this song is played live.
Less convincing are the moments when BLOODYWOOD allow their love of the nu-metal era to get the better of their artistic judgment. Devout LINKIN PARK fans will doubtless enjoy the sappy emoting of “Zanjeero Se” as much as everything else here, but for all its metalcore perkiness, it’s fairly thin gruel compared to the rambunctious clangor of “Machi Bhasad” and “Endurant”. Similarly, the more traditionally melodic “Jee Veerey” lacks its counterparts’ grit and gusto. The day is noisily saved by the closing “Chakh Lee” however. Much like “Gaddaar”, the essence of BLOODYWOOD‘s cheerfully revolutionary approach to modern metal is on full display and at full pelt with those infectious Bollywood embellishments proudly to the fore. In those moments, if not all of “Rakshak”, BLOODYWOOD sound like one of the greatest ideas ever.
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