Age of Calamity

Sceptre is one of the pioneers of Indian Metal. Been around since 1998, the band has released two albums, the second being  last years  years Age of Calamity. To celebrate the band’s 15th anniversary, the album is being re-released with enhanced packaging and new artwork.

What’s remarkable about this band is that the album is about women empowerment which is a big deal considering its country of origin where women still aren’t standing head-to-head with men, with its orthodox society and female infanticide statistics. Heck, it’s no Taliban and it’s a developing country, a rapidly progressing one, but it’s still commendable and a bold move despite losing the “metal” image a tad where most bands are just trying to out-metal each other. Moreover, the band has committed to giving a percentage of the album sales to a girl’s orphanage in the city of Mumbai.

Coming to the music, it’s surprisingly contemporary despite the band’s age. It’s rabid, crunchy and has enough vigour to shake the dandruff off one’s hair. There’s been a line-up change where the vocalist is concerned and the SystemHouse 33 vocalist Samron Jude is filling in and he’s doing a fine job with his Tom Angelripper-esque gravelly voice and tasteful delivery. The music is visceral in a sense, especially when the band is playing fast music. That’s where it shines the most in my opinion. It’s got to have this sense of urgency instead of complacency although such moments are few and far between.

The riffing is astonishingly potent, the songs coherent and there’s not a dependency on breakdowns and faceless chugging like most bands of today – it’s keeping it old school where structures are concerned and yet there’s this semblance of modern sensibilities and melodic European-sounding feel. All of this only makes the band’s songs well-rounded and the album satisfying with a couple of slower numbers, acoustic breaks and solos which I felt could be more – what’s a Thrash Metal album without fiery solo performances?

There’s not a single band that Sceptre can be accused of ripping off, and that’s a huge compliment. The band has come a long way from playing just Metallica and Megadeth covers to a band that can be attributed to having its own sound and style. Future material will bear testament to that fact if the band keeps churning out such music, kicking ass of the new revivalists that are dime-a-dozen everywhere. There’s a difference between ripping a band off or a particular era and forging your own sound, incorporating fresh elements while not abandoning the essence of good honest Thrash Metal.

Besides a slight lethargic delivery, this band has little to offend your taste. It has a killer bonus track “Lest We Forget” that’s rifftastic with a sublime melodic edge, not too unlike the state Thrash/Death champions Halahkuh albeit slower. It’s ponderous and vocals could be grittier, but these are minor things that the band could overcome and become a fearsome group that could cement the band’s place and reputation for years to come. For now ‘Age of Calamity’ is a decent and pleasantly solid album with the right intent and its appeal isn’t misplaced nor is its relevancy. Kick ass.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kunal Choksi
February 13th, 2014


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