Unearthing the Metal Underground: Assam's black metal beast Antt
The incorporation of a culture’s folk and traditional instruments isn’t new to metal by any stretch of the imagination. Looking further eastward on a global scale, however, it isn’t necessarily quite as common. As such, the traditional elements peppered within Indian band Antt’s self-released 2021 debut EP, “Esoteric Misanthropy,” are quite refreshing. What’s special is the manner in which the band spouts black metal with a respect for the genre’s western roots whilst viewing it somewhat through its eastern lens.
On the intro track, Antt utilizes instruments that are building blocks of the bihu music that’s indigenous to their homeland, Assam, a northeastern state of India. With pepa and dhul—a hornpipe and double-headed drum, respectively—Antt digs into its Assamese cultural roots with a tribal swelling of rhythmic frenzy that eventually leads toward a much more western sounding tapestry of black metal on the rest of the EP, aside from the eerie chanting at the onset of “The Donyi Polo dogma.” The majority of “Esoteric Misanthropy” is an exercise of second-wave flavored black metal that leverages a juxtaposition of rich guitar melodies and harsh vocals. But that isn’t to say that it’s simply by-the-numbers.
Sure, “Chaos - The earth eater” boasts frigid guitar melodies that bring to mind Mayhem circa “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas.” But guitar elements on the title track encompass that swirling, left-field insanity that's reminiscent of the likes of Portal. The band is gearing up to release a single in December, followed by an EP early next year. And Antt is slated to begin recording its debut full-length next month. If black metal suits your earholes, Antt is a band that you need to check out.
Jay H. Gorania is a long time metal journalist and sings for Trench Warfare. He also writes for Blabbermouth and Hellbound.ca and has in the past edited for Pit and written for Metal Maniacs, Unrestrained!, Hails and Horns, AMP and Outburn as well as other media outlets.
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