“Whether it’s about eliminating divisive politics, ending sexual assault or holding corrupt journalists accountable, it’s about protecting that sense of hope.” — Raoul Kerr, BLOODYWOOD
It was some time last month when I first heard about BLOODYWOOD right after this Folk Metal band released their debut album Rakshak (Hindi for “Protector”) that advocates hope for a better world with a unique sound mix you’ve never heard before, and it is all “Made in India!” 🤘🏻
I’ve listened to metal music of almost all the genre out there ever since I was a teenager. But BLOODYWOOD offered something new and fresh for the world to listen to—Indian Folk Music + Metal Music—that comes packaged with powerful messages that quickly brought about positive changes in the lives of many around the world.
RISE OF BLOODYWOOD!
BLOODYWOOD started their YouTube channel eight years ago as a parody band that uploaded funny metal covers of pop songs. Their full time mission was to destroy pop songs and then raise them back from the dead through their metal parody with an adrenaline rush! 😄
Back in 2016, Karan Katiyar, the band’s founder, guitarist, woodwind player, producer, and composer quit his job as a corporate lawyer, and together with Jayant Bhadula, the band’s vocalist, they formed a two-piece band.
Two days later, the band released their song Machi Bhasad (Hindi for “Expect a Riot”) intended for the Ubisoft video game Beyond Good and Evil 2, as well as announcing that a third new member, Raoul Kerr, the band’s rapper, becoming a permanent member of the band.
They also released a song dedicated to fighting depression (more of this later below) and another that dealt with bullying. According to BLOODYWOOD, the theme of this band is that it has to be something that adds value to this world.
Raoul said to rock magazine Kerrang, “Whether it’s about eliminating divisive politics, ending sexual assault or holding corrupt journalists accountable, it’s about protecting that sense of hope.”
Last year, BLOODYWOOD was predicted to be one of the 12 new metal bands to watch in 2022 by heavy metal and rock music magazine Metal Hammer. They were also nominated for the Breakthrough Asian Band title at the 2021 Global Metal Apocalypse awards, finishing second.
This year, just days ago, Metal Hammer was right in their prediction and once again announced BLOODYWOOD as one of The best metal albums of 2022 so far.
And now, after years of relentless hard work and painstaking dedication, after shedding much blood, sweat and tears, they finally released their debut studio album with original materials titled Rakshak on Feb 18, 2022 with lyrics sung in English, Hindi, and Punjabi. And that’s one inspiring success story.
INDIAN FOLK METAL
BLOODYWOOD combines Heavy Metal music subgenres such as Nu Metal & Rap Metal among others with traditional Indian cultural music to produce another subgenre called Indian Folk Metal. The band is now known for pioneering sounds of seamlessly fusing Indian Folk instruments with Metal sounds to a devastating effect!
So along with those cool metal rhythm riffs of modern distorted electric guitar sounds accompanied by vigorous & growling vocals, expect to also hear the mix of the percussive power of the mighty Dhol, the melancholic Flute, the single stringed Tumbi and several other uncommon yet distinctively characteristic sounds of India.
Also, expect the combination of the thunderous Hindi/Punjabi choruses + meaningful yet unforgiving Rap verses, along with the ethnic instrumentation all thrown at you like a fused dynamite of 5 with an explosive force of awesome showmanship, making BLOODYWOOD not only a truly unique experience, but also an action-packed one!
Here’s how the band members describes their music:
“It’s so hard to put us in one particular genre. The sound changes so much with each song, so it’s hard to stick to the Indian folk-metal tag. There are way too many genres to specify, but the best way to describe it is to say you have modern metal with Indian groove and traditional Indian instruments, and of course hip-hop.” — Karan Katiyar
“It’s a wild amalgamation. We’re looking for a sweet spot between Eastern and Western influences. It’s Indian at its core, but with a universal message.” — Raoul Kerr
“I would say it’s metal with masala (Indian ground spices mix).” — Jayant Bhadula
Of course, Jayant’s humorous description of their music was accompanied by laughter from his bandmates. 😄
However, as cool and fun as all this may sound, the metal genre may not be for everyone as it may be deemed too heavy, too harsh, too noisy, especially for noobs and non-metalheads. But who knows, you might just dig BLOODYWOOD if you at least give it a shot and begin to understand how you can also use metal music to help you release mental and emotional stress.
I know it helped me a lot throughout my teenage years to even now when I use it for my workout sessions from doing war dances like the Maori All Blacks Haka, jumping & running, body bouncing and a bit of headbanging (without hurting my neck that is), and whatever else—not only it releases some steam, but it also burns plenty of calories in the process. 😉
“Jee Veerey” (Hindi literal translation for “Live, Brave One”) is BLOODYWOOD’s powerful and inspiring song that speaks about enduring and braving through a highly overlooked but rampant problem in the world – mental illness, specifically depression.
“We’ve battled! We’ve fought! And walked it over there! Today, we move as one! But for now, the fighting is done. For now… now we hunt! What we’re hunting is a monster. A disease that is killing many of us. Yet many of us don’t seem to believe in it. It lives at the bottom of a deep, dark pit! It has many faces. It takes many forms. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to believe it. This monster, it has a name. It’s called depression!”
Jayant adds on to say…
“We walk it… How many of you have faced this monster called depression or know someone who is facing it? Raise your hands up. Look around you… look around you and see how many lives this monster infest. And we still don’t talk about it. Raise your fists up if you’re ready to fight this monster. Let me see your fists up in the air… And for you, we’ve got just this one thing to say…”
After a brief silence… Karan then starts to play a melodic tune out of the flute to introduce this heartfelt song that moved and connected many to an extremely personal level in giving them strength to live on during their dark times and even saving their lives from resorting to suicide…
To add on to their support for people who were suffering from depression, BLOODYWOOD didn’t just stop there. They continued their efforts to reach out to the vulnerable by partnering with an online counselling site HopeTherapy, and coordinated a private therapy session, for FREE!
“Walk this valley of death, head high. Say ‘I’ll be back, today I won’t die.’ ‘Cause try as we may, we can never deny. We can get back up if we’re still alive!”Raoul Kerr, BLOODYWOOD, ‘Jee Veerey’ lyrics excerpt
“Only after enduring the tests of fire, iron is forged. Live, brave one! Fight those internal storms and… Win, brave one! Weather those wounds and rise once again. Fly once again. For too long, you’ve lain in darkness…”Jayant Bhadula, BLOODYWOOD, ‘Jee Veerey’ lyrics excerpt
BLOODYWOOD also extends their big heart for the humane treatment of animals. They even used their own earnings from the European tour to donate a new ambulance when they heard the POSH Foundation, a Delhi NCR based NGO that is actively involved in animal welfare and awareness, no longer had a working-condition ambulance.
Karan said, “You will find a homeless animal everywhere you look. Dogs, cats, cows, donkeys – all struggle to survive the concrete jungles of Indian cities like our hometown – New Delhi. Accidents, diseases, and starvation are a very common sight. Given that the vehicle (ambulance) will last at least 5 years on-road, the new ambulance would potentially help save 27,375 homeless animals.”
“Why are we doing this? This ties closely with our next song (Yaad), and we hate just singing about things and not doing anything to actually help.”Karan Katiyar, BLOODYWOOD
If you have read my previous post, In Loving Memory of my Dog Son, BoBo who passed away today 6 years ago… (1999–2016), you may have noticed I shared this BLOODYWOOD music video that Karan mentioned called “Yaad” (Hindi for “remember” or “in memory”) that takes to heart the deep bond between a man and his dog even after they are long gone…
And right after that song ends, Karan takes the opportunity to reach out to all of us on behalf of dogs and other poor animals with a really important message he doesn’t want you to skip… so do spend some time to hear him out… I’ll share the video again here…
EXPOSING DIVISIVE POLITICS
“Gaddaar” (Hindi for “traitor”) is BLOODYWOOD’s first new release since the 2020 single “Yaad”. BLOODYWOOD states:
“It’s a song that’s aimed at a complete separation of religion and politics across the world. Everyone deserves equal rights and equal treatment at the hands of their governments, no matter who and how they worship. We’ve seen the use of religious and divisive politics globally in recent years, and it needs to be spoken about.”
“This video contains heavy political commentary. It is aimed at divisive leaders, parties and political mindsets. In the face of fascism and communalism, we cannot remain politically neutral…”
Not to mention, the cool heavy metal rhythm guitar tone through its drop tuning brutal metal riffs perfectly completes it to hammer the message across…
BLOODYWOOD CINEMATICS & SOUND QUALITY
From what I’ve seen and listened to so far, BLOODYWOOD’s guitarist Karan, also being the band’s producer and composer, has put a lot of heart and spirit into his craft, which I appreciate and value that very much in any artist as this is one of the most important factors that can help in the success of a project.
Through his own words in the Bloodywood – Raj Against the Machine (The Documentary) video, I take it as a confirmation of this, when he said, “We did not want to compromise on our sound, so we settled for nothing less than the best.”
“Grindwork has always been a part of the game, but mixing this album has been something else. So many instruments, genres, and vocal styles fighting each other for attention, held together by thousands of automations and (thankfully) solid songwriting decisions. Each track is a mountain to be carved and to make matters worse, you can only use a spoon. Nevertheless, bring it!” Karan added to the caption of his photo above.
Some of the music videos has behind-the-scenes footages where we can see Karan himself also shoots and edits their music videos as well. It shows he has spent a lot of time learning as much as he can to be independent, and economical in the self-production work of BLOODYWOOD music and videos.
BLOODYWOOD is now living the dream of mine when I was a teenager—during the era before YouTube came into existence. If only YouTube existed back then, I too would have taken full advantage of it, like, so many are doing now.
Anyway, I’m so glad BLOODYWOOD did it. I’m very happy BLOODYWOOD made it. I can somewhat imagine the happiness they are feeling right now from what they have worked so hard for to achieve. I wish them all the best in their future success and who knows, they may also become future legends in the history of metal music.
YouTube has provided a platform to many in this age and time where they can share their own self-produced work without the need to rely on record labels any more. All you need is hard work and dedication, and of course, lots of patience to be in the long process of facing numerous rude challenges before you finally begin to stand out above others… and then, you too, can make it.
BLOODYWOOD is one of the best examples you can take inspiration from to be on your way in making your dreams come true.
Check out more of BLOODYWOOD’s awesome work and contributions to society at their YouTube Channel.
BLOODYWOOD’S SUCCESS AS A FOREIGN METAL BAND
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“It’s hard for foreign bands to breakout, and I think what a lot of foreign bands want to do is pretend to be American bands. They think that’s the way that they’re going to become successful in the way to market themselves to Westerners or to Americans. And I don’t think that’s true.
BLOODYWOOD is a great example of that. Doing something that’s definitely metal, and it sounds like metal, and it’s familiar to an American or to a Western audience but still it’s very Indian, so I think it’s pretty interesting.
I criticize all these kinds of generic Djent bands that do a similar sound the DJenty new medley kind of things that I criticize all the time because I don’t think any of them have something to say. I think they’re just saying what they think you’re supposed to say and playing riffs that they think you’re supposed to play, but I don’t think that they actually have anything to say. It certainly doesn’t feel like it to me.
… you can just feel that genuine emotion… these guys (BLOODYWOOD) have going on, and it’s the reason why it works because unlike the rest of these bands that are just doing it because you know it’s trendy and everyone else is doing it, they (BLOODYWOOD) have got something to say, and you can feel that.
Finally, something interesting in metal that isn’t old… bands like this make you realize how dry your playlist is. How can people expect me to be interested in generic Djently progressive metalcore band number 5048 when stuff like this (BLOODYWOOD) exists that’s actually different, and it’s not different for the sake of being different—it’s different in a way that makes sense specifically for them. You know they’re doing stuff that nobody else could do.
To me, the lesson is that there’s sort of this idea that Western audiences won’t pay attention to anything unless it’s basically a carbon copy of Western music. It’s just not true. This is a great example of it. It does not matter what language something is in.
I think it’s awesome to see that they’ve had this much success specifically by not trying to be a Western band. They’re not trying to be an American band, either. They’re doing what is authentic to them. They are an Indian metal band and I think it’s really cool.
So shout out to BLOODYWOOD! I’m excited for their new song, and I’m excited to see where they go from here.”Finn McKenty, American marketing strategist + Director of Marketing, URM Academy + The Punk Rock MBA writer & music commentator