Metal & Mythology: The Indian Influence

You know what’s so great about metal? Besides its obvious contributions to the tin foil industry (you may ignore that line), as a genre, it features some of the most diverse and unconventional influences as far as songwriting goes. This is probably why the overall sound is generally more appealing to a relatively unconventional audience as well. While popular genres tend to stick to themes like romance and the endlessly fascinating behaviors of young folk at the local night club, metal has always had room for much, much more!

Among the many significant influences to the lyrical themes in heavy metal, history and mythology have definitely been among some of the most noteworthy. The influence of Norwegian mythology is so strong that it has spawned its own sub-genre of “Viking Metal”. Egyptian, Roman and Greek mythology and South American culture have also inspired the lyrics and music of many great bands like “Septicflesh”, Ex Deo and Symphony X. And if you’re looking for the Indian influence, it isn’t very hard to find either. Here are a few bands from all over the world who have been heavily inspired by Indian mythology, Vedic literature and Hindu philosophy.

Kartikeya (Russian)
“Durga Puja” and “Mahayuga” are probably not the first things that come to mind when you think of possible song titles of a Russian death metal band; but then came Karthikeya. The title itself is a giveaway with this band, having been named after the Indian war god (generally envisioned riding a peacock). Their themes tend to be strongly centered around Hinduism and eastern mythology, while their music has a distinctively Indian sound to it, a reason for which is probably that they also use ethnic instruments alongside the typical bass – drums – guitar combination.

Cult of Fire (Czech Republic)
This black metal band is so heavily influenced by Indian culture that their second album is actually titled in Hindi and written in Devanagari alphabet. Every song on the album is also titled in hindi and written in the same script. While their first album is described as “atmospheric metal”, the second one focused heavily on themes like esoteric Hinduism, Vedic rituals, sung in an incredibly unique dialect as far as black metal is concerned. Their album artwork is also very obviously influenced by Indian mythological figures.

Rudra (Singapore)
Rudra like to describe their sound as “Vedic metal”, and their lyrics often include ancient mantras and philosophical themes. The band often fuses scriptural chants and ethnic sounds with extreme metal percussion and guitars. Three of their albums follow a specific theme of “Brahmavidya”, following the sequence of “Primordial I”, “Transcedental I” and finally the third chapter to their trilogy – “Immortal I”. Kurukshetra was one of their earlier albums that was based on the Mahabharata.

Dying out Flame (Nepal)
This Nepalese “technical metal” band has exactly one album titled “Shiva Rudrastakam” (no points for guessing what the theme is here!), and is yet another band that forms a part of the “Vedic metal” community. The entire album is really just a blend of classical Indian music and extreme metal with each of the six songs drawing focus to some part of Vedic religion.

Demonic Resurrection (India)
Demonic Resurrection’s latest independently released album “Dashavatar” is all about Indian mythology. The album is built around a Hindu centric theme and is more of an Indian classical meets heavy metal kind of deal. Each of the songs under the album are named after the ten avatars of Vishnu and go something like “Matsya” (The Fish) and “Vamana” (The Dwarf), and well, you get the picture.