"Last year, after we finished a gig at an awards show, I saw a guy with a broken arm and bloody nose, smiling at me,” says Abhimanyu Singh Negi, guitarist with Metal band Abraxas. A mosh pit — where the audience gets into a slam dance, punching and falling on top of each other — is a common sight at Metal concerts. In India, the genre was introduced in the late '80s but the notoriety began after Iron Maiden visited Bengaluru in 2007. The five-piece Metal group, an offshoot of that period, and influenced by Maiden, will play a gig in Mumbai this weekend.

Left to right: Karan Pote (vocals), Tiasunep Aier (guitar), Chinmay Bokil (bass), Abhimanyu Singh Negi (guitar) and Naman Sachdev (drums). Pic/SWITCH16
Left to right: Karan Pote (vocals), Tiasunep Aier (guitar), Chinmay Bokil (bass), Abhimanyu Singh Negi (guitar) and Naman Sachdev (drums). Pic/SWITCH16

They believe Metal still rules in the time of Electronic ance Music. “When we started, we won most of the major competitions. Bands emerged from different genres — Rock, Funk, Blues, but Metal was there too. Then, the sound faced a crisis around 2011; it stayed for about a couple of years which one may call the dud period. It was a dry spell for most Metal acts in the country but 2014 onwards, new event organisers emerged and it was revived,” adds Negi.

Abraxas during a live gig. PIC/HIMANSHU ROHILIA
Abraxas during a live gig. Pic/Himanshu Rohilia

Sound check
The gigs lost the heavy sound during the lacklustre epoch but Abraxas utilised the spare time to create their first studio album. “When we started, there was fire in the belly, with no planning as such. Now that we are older, we have managed to do solid work in the last four years to cut out an album. The idea to play gigs in Mumbai, Pune and other metros is to spread the message,” says Naman Sachdev, drummer and co-founder.

The band did hit the studio earlier for a record but they weren't satisfied with the mix. However, they are planning to launch the album by the year-end.

When talk about music consumers moving online crops up, the band admits, “Of course, selling the music is a challenge. On top of that, Metal is niche. There is not much income from this genre. Though digital distribution and online channels help, it's not enough. The Indian market isn’t as mature as the global,” adds Negi.

Nonetheless, the gang understands that it is hard to survive only on music and that too, metal. “We have day jobs and we are doing alright. We also do the nine-hour thing," laughs Sachdev.

Metal element
Metal engages in angst, fear, outcry; all of the emotions are a part of the sound. It is a reaction to the wrongdoings in society. “We have jotted down a few concepts based on which we will write newer songs. The angst is definitely an element in the genre. But it is also about the technical skills and the zeal to play the music we all like,” says Negi.

Meaning and origin
The term Abraxas is a reference to both God and Satan as a single deity. It is derived from the Egyptian words abrak and sax, meaning the honourable and the hallowed.