Indus Creed – Back with a bang after 17 years!
When I heard that the premier Indian rock band from my teenage years had reunited and were going to come out with a new album called ‘Evolve’, I could hardly contain myself. I was so happy that I messaged friends and family on facebook about the good news. I even went to their official website and listened to an interview of lead vocalist Uday Benegal in the hopes of getting clues on what they were cooking up on the new album. Then the release date came and of course, the CD was not available in SA… no surprises there. Wife to the rescue!! She was making a short trip to India anyway, so I begged her to get the album for me. Hence it has taken me a couple of months to physically get this album and listen to it, in case anybody is wondering why I am writing this review a little late.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the music. When I listened to that interview back in April I heard Uday saying that they were listening to a lot of Porcupine Tree and that ‘In Absentia’ was one of his absolute favourite albums. Now that I have listened to ‘Evolve’ at least 3 or 4 times, I see where he is coming from. Opening track, ‘Fireflies’ sounds exactly like something Steven Wilson would come up with. From the haunting melody to the subdued echoed vocal style, it is obvious that these guys love Porcupine Tree to bits! And of course the fact that Tim Palmer (mixing engineer for the likes of Pearl Jam, U2 and Porcupine Tree) worked on this album only makes it even more obvious. That said, ‘Fireflies’ is a lovely song and I would like to think that they were going more for ‘inspired tribute’ and less for ‘blatant rip-off’. Track 2 truly delivers with the epic-sounding and anthemic ‘Dissolve’. There are several qualities to this song that I really enjoy – the offbeat percussion in the verses, the guitar solo after the second chorus and lyrics like “No more to run, I am one with my destination” and “the ocean is calling… I dissolve into the blue”. After that enjoyable 1-2 punch, track 3 ‘The Money’ goes into somewhat experimental territory for Indus Creed. It starts with a very unique-sounding electronic beat followed by interesting drum rolls and has Uday singing about somebody stealing money, shaming the whole community and what not. The lyrics here are fairly mediocre and quite repetitive. But it serves as an interesting diversion before returning to full form on track 4. ‘Take It Harder’ has a fantastic opening and build-up that explodes into an easy sing-along chorus. This medium paced rocker has great atmosphere and guitar.
Moving on to the second half of the album, ‘No Disgrace’ talks about the perennial mad race to be first at everything in life. This is a topic that is very relevant in India especially and I can think of at least 2 instances where it has been discussed – the song ‘Jame Raho’ from film ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and the central theme in the movie ‘3 Idiots’. Incidentally, both films were products of thought-provoking actor director Aamir Khan. Anyway, musically ‘No Disgrace’ is very progressive. There are influences from the likes of Rush and Dream Theater all over the place. Took a while to grow on me but now I totally enjoy this track. I particularly enjoy the lines “Did they take away your dreams? Douse them all in kerosene. From the crowd you watched them burn. Maybe someday this world will learn… that there’s no disgrace in losing the race”. Track 6 ‘Come Around’ is lovely, has a very unconventional structure to it but seems to drag on a bit at the end. Nevertheless, it’s a nice melodic ditty towards the end of the album. The next song is a slightly funny one titled ‘Bulletproof’. It changes the pace a bit with rapid fire vocals and a rocking rhythm. Not my favourite but not bad either. Finally, the closer on this seemingly short 8 track album is the aptly titled ‘Goodbye’. This song has just the right qualities for that nostalgia-tinged feel-good farewell.
Overall, I have to say that I’m quite impressed with this effort despite some obvious influences from other bands here. Also, I appreciate the fact that they mixed things up nicely and did not strictly follow the “verse-chorus-verse-chorus-guitar solo-final chorus” formula. And more than half the album is filled with songs that are longer than the average 5 minute length. There is equal parts experimentation along with their classic style of late 80’s/ early 90’s rock. A job well done! Here’s hoping for more music in the future.
Rating: 8 out of 10