It is quite a rarity to come across artists who successfully meld their disparate influences and ideas into something truly unique that reeks of their own flavour right from the get-go, leaving their listeners in awe. Festacorn is one of those distinguishable artists, who with their latest album “Cafe Slap City Central” have yet again pushed the boundaries of what Indian metal bands can aspire to achieve within their environment. The central theme of the album could be narrowed down to fear, and the various manifestations of fear in our lives. The representation of this through food dishes was not accidental of course, but a rather clever touch. In the band’s own words: “Food is such an integral and primal part of the human experience, that it can represent our deepest desires, and our deepest fears. We are what we eat. And our fears are us, as they consume us…all these songs are a play on dishes and food. What if the fear is being served through this food by a restaurant, and the album is the menu of said restaurant.”
One of the first things to catch one’s attention are the number of motifs thrown into every song; from rhythmically complex quad-layered grooves enveloped with intricate yet ingenuous guitar riffs having exactly the right amount of push and pull, to the constantly varying vocal delivery layered with spoken word poetry in between, to the ambient drones and pedal tones supplementing the overall cinematic feel of the album, they’ve done it all on this one. After all genre-bending isn’t something new to this group, as they have been experimenting with a wide array of music right from the time they formed in 2016. The countless hours that they have put into this effort has definitely paid off, as the balance that they have found on this album is truly one that shall astound every listener. There is no one style of music that this album could be lumped in with, and the depth of the arrangements on every single composition serves (pun intended) as testament to that. The progressive/alternative metal influences are evident, as the band themselves note that they have grown up to the likes of Porcupine Tree, Deftones, Tool, Meshuggah, Textures, Gojira, etc. However the packaging of the sonic qualities of the aforementioned groups along with the Layne Staley-esque drawls and songwriting, are wrapped together with a fresh boldness to include what I would liken to pop-ish sensibilities in some sections, culminating in a full course meal of what can only be described as the Festacorn Gourmet Special.
It is perhaps not that surprising that the album took as long as it did as far as composition, writing and production is concerned. The band formed in 2016, with Vivek Jha on vocals, Angad Bhatia and Vaibhav Shejwal on guitars, Akhil Nargundkar on bass and Chinmay on drums (formerly). Writing for the album had already begun in September 2018, as the band released their debut EP “It’s Only Natural” that year and their second effort, a single titled “Raspberry Punch” a couple of years later in 2020. In the interim, they slowly but surely came to identify their voice and spent the next four years perfecting this. In the process, they used all the lessons of their first two releases to produce a harmonically layered, densely textured, and cinematically arranged masterpiece, their best served meal so far. Of course the COVID-19 pandemic delayed this process as it did for pretty much every act out there, as the initial plan to release the album was to be sometime towards the end of 2020. However, the group spent this time to put the final touches on the album, writing 2 more songs and finishing up with recording the vocals as they all went through a bunch of changes personally. Maybe it’s a stretch, but in my opinion the pandemic experience may have been what added to the intensity of the album.
Festacorn’s journey as chefs of the human psyche isn’t coming to an end anytime soon, and one can only eagerly anticipate what more this splendid group will cook up for us next, leaving us satisfied with much needed nourishment for the mind. They firmly believe that “the more you write, the better you write. Trust your influences and your taste, and write what is true to you – you’ll find your sound and your words”, and their work ethic shall stay to influence the upcoming crop of musicians around every nook and corner of the country. “Lastly” -and this is their advice that struck a chord with me personally- “just go for gigs, don’t worry about genres, listen to and watch everything you can because as much as you should know how to write something you like; you should also know how not to write something you don’t like, perhaps”. You wanna make an omelette (of the mind)? You gotta
break a few eggs learn it from these folks!
Best Song(s): Mrs. Mister Gingerbread, Clam Chaos, Mutant Prawn