Some get into rock ‘n’ roll for the sheer Bacchanalian pleasures, others to change the world. Bloodywood fall determinably into the latter category, the New Delhi outfit crusading against wrong and using their powerful mix of crushing Metal and traditional instruments to tear down walls and corrupt institutions. Sharing kinship with Los Angelino’s Rage Against The Machine, the band have created a tsunami-sized wave that has seen them grow from their streetwise origins to become one of the fast-rising and propulsive acts on the planet right now.
Bloodywood – Lake Malice
Electric Ballroom, Camden – 30 March 2023
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Photography: Antonio Giannattasio
With one UK tour already under their belt and numerous festival appearances, including an incendiary set at last year’s Bloodstock Festival, this return to these shores has seen sold out signs going up everywhere, the larger venues filled to overflowing.
The dark environs of Camden’s Electric Ballroom is packed, bodies shoulder to shoulder and wall to wall. It’s a wonderfully broad mix of cultural backgrounds, where everything from mohawks to turbans appear together, the power of both music and message a uniting factor that crosses all boundaries and borders.
There’s a buzz in the air, an anticipation of something special that goes beyond even good-time entertainment and hums with electricity. It could be perceived that bands like Bloodywood and RATM are 20th-century Punks, their agenda one for change and their tools for the work are guitars and microphones.
However you look at it, standing here in the midst of global chaos, injustice, greed and social ills, you can’t get away from the feeling that this is something that may truly tilt the world on its axis.
Opening with the instant drumming and huge riff of Gaddaar in a wave of truly brutal Metal, the gloves were well and truly off, the audience utterly lost in the euphoria of it all. The constantly moving pairing of vocalists Raoul Kerr and Jayant Bhadula bob and weave like prizefighters, their words carrying the visceral punch of a heavyweight as the song’s lyrics blaze with righteous anger.
Amongst all this, guitarist Karan Katiyar stands there peeling out notes with the rock-solid presence reminiscent of Alter Bridge’s Mark Tremonti as bassist Roshan Roy, dhol player Sarthak Pahwa and drummer Vishesh Singh add their own elements to the maelstrom.
BSDK.exe and Aaj are the cause of whiplash for many, the sheer force is like being strapped to a rocket and the already bursting seams of place ready to be torn asunder. A blistering Dana Dan and the stirring speech at the beginning of Jee Veerey are enough to stop the world, and when Kerr asks, “is London expecting a riot?” at the beginning of Machi Bhasad (Expect a Riot), the answer couldn’t be louder or clearer.
With two-thirds of the band in the audience for closing number Ari Ari and the huge mosh pit for the encore in the form of a repeat of Gaddaar, this sense of a Metal community at one with the band was complete. Offering something different to the often corporate rock world, Bloodywood are organic and honest, and their blend of traditional elements is perfectly summed up by one audience member to MetalTalk when she says, “If anyone wants an example of fusion really working, here it is.”
With their musical muscle, originality and burning passion and action for social change, Bloodywood may well be one of the most important bands on the planet right now.
Kicking off the evening, Brighton alt.Metallers Lake Malice embraced the opportunity to play to a rabid crowd and show just why they’re being so feted as a band very much on the rise. With singer Alice Guala a dominating figure at the front of the stage and the quartet putting as much energy into their set as the combined teams in the Commonwealth Games, they were out to impress.
The grinding riff and relentless barrage of Magic Square rambunctiously kick things off, Guala embodying femininity, strength and guttural warrior spirit in one spiky, bodysuited bundle.
With huge numbers like Power Game, Black Turbine and Creepers, as the singer asks, “do you wanna get rowdy?” it’s a promising display of talent that won’t back down. Circle pits form, horns are thrown, heads are banged, and the air is punched as song after song smashes in.
A compelling part of their make-up is in the chameleon-like ability they have to mix light and shade, the pop hooks and spacey gentleness of Bloodbath punctured with huge shards of darkness, the holy and unholy displayed in a shattered mirror. By the time the last notes of Blossom ring out, it’s clear that a whole new legion of fans has fallen under the spell of Lake Malice, and, like the headliners, it seems like nothing can stop them right now.
That, in itself, is something to light up the soul and give us all hope for the future. You really can’t stop rock ‘n’ roll.