Band – Heathen Beast
Album – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised But It Will Be Heard
Country of Origin – India
Genre – Grindcore/Black Metal
Release Date – June 21, 2020
Label – Independent Release
Author – Hayduke X
I’ve been a fan of Heathen Beast since they were a black metal band on the Transcending Obscurity Records roster, and though their latest is more a mix of hardcore punk and grindcore, there are still elements of black metal present. Ask yourself, what do these genres have in common? For me, the obvious answer is rage, and the band certainly rages on The Revolution Will Not Be Televised But It Will Be Heard. The album was written in direct response to policies being put in place by a right wing government in the band’s home of India, and around the world by similar governments. The album is a refutation of all of those hateful right wing policies, and cries out in righteous rage for an end to them. In the interview which follows, the band discusses in more depth the reasons for the album, so I’ll leave this part of the review with one more statement: I stand in solidarity with their purpose in writing this album and hope that all who hear it, understand it as a clarion call to action.
After a handful of EPs, some singles, and a compilation, 2020 sees Heathen Beast finally releasing their debut full length. The band, whose members choose to remain anonymous, is a typical power trio lineup, with drums, bass, and guitar/vocals. Samples are used throughout the album to underscore the purpose of the release. The drumming is unrelenting blasting to that point where I wonder if some of it is programmed. There isn’t much variety, but there is a ton of raw, yet controlled aggression. The bass is equally unrelenting, a battering ram into the listeners psyche. Guitar riffs are spastic and sharp, tearing jagged holes in the listeners sense of comfort. The vocal attack is belligerent and directed, old school hardcore punk yells of rage and destruction.
There is a lot of righteous struggle going on around the world right now. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised But It Will Be Heard stands as another release which should find its way into the playlist of all who are part of the struggle. The revolution will be heard, because Heathen Beast and other like-minded bands are giving us so much quality fodder for the soundtrack of said revolution.
Below the music, there is an extensive interview with the collective.
Hayduke X: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised But It Will Be Heard is like a sonic Molotov cocktail. You clearly have some things on your collective minds. Tell me about them.
Heathen Beast: The situation in India has been bad for a while now. It started with the current government amending and passing a citizenship bill that excludes Muslims from being granted citizenship to India, but allowed it to people from all other religions. They planned to run a National citizenship register as well, where citizens have to prove they are ‘Indian’ or else get put in a detention center. It’s a rather devious plan and one with massive financial implications that this country just cannot manage. Mass protests broke out in the country. From there on, the right wing Hindutva brigade got into action. This is the Indian version of White Supremacists, or we would say they are Indian Nazis, who believe India is a Hindu nation and that’s what they want to turn it into. Students protesting were brutally beaten by police who also entered their campus and shot tear gas shells inside a library, a student lost his eye, many were injured. Politicians from the ruling party started giving hate speeches saying protesters better not ‘push them’ and that there is a ‘limit to what we can tolerate’. All this during peaceful protests, which sometimes turned violent when miscreants started trouble. Also, the right wing student groups attacked a college campus. Late at night fifty masked men and women armed with sticks and weapons entered a college and broke property and beat students, while the entire police force relaxed outside the gates. These people were treated like royalty and given a free hand. Shit like this went on and, just before the pandemic set in, there were riots in Delhi where, once again, right wing Hindutva goons killed Muslims and burnt their homes, all while the police turned a blind eye. There is enough footage and evidence to prove everything. And during all this, the main news channels that are stooges to the government are pushing fake news and stroking the government’s agenda, while the government’s own IT cell is photoshopping images and creating viral fake news on whatsapp to villainize Muslims and protesters, grabbing footage from random countries and tagging them as incidents in India. All this made us angry and we had to write this album.
HX: Wow! That’s insane. I’d heard about some of that, but not everything. So what do you hope listeners will get from your album?
HB: We just hope that the listeners can connect with the album and feel something. We hope people around the world see what is going on in India through this album. This album is our way of expressing our dissent.
HX: It seems Heathen Beast has been political on other albums too. Is this the most blatantly political though?
HB: Religion and politics have always been entwined in this country. Politicians have always used religion to manipulate people and cause trouble. Even in the past, riots and violence have always stemmed from the same manipulation. We think this is the most angry we’ve been. Our release $cam was fairly political and was about the ‘demonitization’ blunder of the current government that cost one hundred and fifty people to lose their lives, due to their inefficiency and callous attitude. This time we’re just fucking angry, because we were part of the protests and the movement in the country,
HX: What’s the political climate like there right now? Are you seeing signs of change yet? Are people still protesting?
HB: When the pandemic hit, the protesters responsibly went home and stayed put, but the bastard government kept its wheels turning. They started arresting and targeting activists. They had a pregnant woman thrown in jail for peacefully protesting while a man who showed up at a protest with a gun and fired at protesters has been given bail. The ruling government’s IT cell kept manufacturing fake news, photos and trying to pin the spread of coronavirus on Muslims, and the media channels of the government ran with that news. They were still playing politics while thousands of migrant labourers were stranded. Many have died. The country was bleeding, but all they cared about and still only care about is politics. Just a week ago, doctors staged a protest because a doctor was beaten by the kin of a patient and this is a regular feature in India and the government does nothing for the doctor’s safety. It’s a terrible situation.
HX: Aside from helping to spread the word, what can those of us in other parts of the world do?
HB: Right now, people can donate to various charities that are helping the people affected by COVID. There are lots of vulnerable communities in India. Also, people helping to provide healthcare workers with PPE.
HX: Was this album written after lockdown?
HB: No, we started this album earlier this year, in January, before lockdown, but the lockdown definitely hampered the progress, as this album did take some time to write.
HX: How did you make that work? What was the writing and recording process like through all of this?
HB: Thankfully technology helps, because all members of the collective have some kind of recording setup at their home, so it’s easy to manage. But we had a chance to go over certain things before the lockdown kicked in.
HX: Why the phrase collective, instead of band?
HB: Because we are now more than 3 people but the 3 member format is the most comfortable way of showing ourselves.
HX: Do you still play as a trio live?
HB: We have never played live and there is no intention to play live. This was always meant to be a studio project.
HX: I see. I didn’t know that. To back up a bit, does writing an album this full of dissent endanger you guys?
HB: In India there is always a chance. It’s unlikely, we feel, simply because of the reach of metal music here. It’s super niche, but if by some chance it blew up and reached certain people, we would definitely face online harassment, as we saw with one of our earlier songs that reached a few more people than normal. Of course, if your identity is known then, depending on which part of India you live in, your social/economic status will define your safety.
HX: So, worth the risk.
HX: Over the course of several albums you’ve incorporated several styles, but notably black metal and grindcore. What’s your musical background that has helped you develop that style?
HB: Every member of this collective has a different background in terms of their instruments and their musical journey. But what connected us was our love for extreme metal. When we started, keeping in mind the religious subject matter, there was no genre better suited to express that than black metal, and as we turned more political, the message just felt like it needed a more pissed off medium which explains the stylistic shift. At the same time it’s still signature Heathen Beast.
HX: Prior to this release, you had been working with Transcending Obscurity Records. Why the change?
HB: It was just time to move on. We didn’t actually think we were ever going to release music again, and TO had many other bands and projects to work with. Honestly, this release was not planned, and we wouldn’t have written it, had we not been so fucking angry at the situation in India. With TO, we would have to wait to release this album, and we simply couldn’t do that. Labels plan their releases months in advance, so you can’t really wake up and tell a label I’ve got an album that needs to be put out now. So we just decided to do it on our own.
HX: That makes sense. What’s next for Heathen Beast? Will there be more music after this, do you think?
HB: At this point, we really don’t know. This band has always been a passion project and not a career for us. That is why we cannot predict the future, nor do we have a plan. Just like the situation in the country was the catalyst for this album, we’ll just wait for inspiration to strike, and then write something if it makes sense.
HX: What else would you like to share with the readers?
HB: Give the album a listen, if you like what you hear then share it with your friends, it’s a free download and make sure it spreads far and wide. Hailz from Heathen Beast.
HX: Thanks very much for taking the time to answer some questions.
Biography: Hayduke X has been writing for MoshPitNation since June of 2016. Beginning in 2018, he also began writing for VM Metal Underground. Prior to joining the MoshPitNation team, Hayduke published reviews on his own blog Rage and Frustration. In addition, he has DJ’ed an online metal radio show of the same name as his blog, written for TOmetal.com, done interviews for Metal Rules, and collaborated with The Art of B Productions to create video interviews with a wide variety of bands.