INTERVIEWS                     GUESTBOOK




Transcending Obscurity should sound unfamiliar for most...
The editor used to run his webzine and label activities under the Diabolical Conquest monicker, before recently changing of name. According to his long Facebook messages he seemed to have a lots of things to say about his activities and the developping metal scene in India... So I sent him a package of questions, and here are the answers.


1. Hello Kunal, can you introduce yourself to the readers?

Hey G.! Thank you so much for this interview. I run Transcending Obscurity, which was previously called Diabolical Conquest. It's a webzine, record label and a store, and I'm also doing shows and generally helping out bands and creating opportunities.


2. Your underground activities occurred to be under the Diabolical Conquest moniker for a good couple of years, first there was a webzine/ forum, and the last couple of years saw a label with some CD releases... I'm quite certain you are conscious about how it can be complicated to change the name of a webzine or label and not to loose your contacts or usual readers... So tell us more about the thoughts and feelings that were so strong they pushed you so hard to change the name...

Yes, it was a drastic decision, not without its drawbacks. But before I could invest further time and effort into it, I thought it should have a purpose and the name Transcending Obscurity says it all. Diabolical Conquest mostly covered lesser known and deserving bands and remained an underground site. Transcending Obscurity, with its expanded scope, in all its avatars, would be best fitting the kind of work I intend to do. I didn't like the unoriginality of the term Diabolical Conquest which as you know is the landmark album of the Death Metal band Incantation which happened to be the first CD that I had ordered from abroad back in the day and remains special. I named my forum Diabolical Conquest without giving it much thought and simply because it was special and sounded cool. Transcending Obscurity has a purpose - a noble intent.


3. So your new name Transcending Obscurity conveys something like the idea of finding very small bands in the deep obscure underground and help more readers to know about their music... It could also feel close to some current occult death black metal bands that convey something like a "ritual" state of mind. Is this what you had in mind, or could you develop the right meaning of the words?

Exactly. I want to work with smaller bands and help them grow. I don't want bands to remain obscure all through - if the music is deserving, it needs to be heard, and I'll strive towards that end. Personally, I love supporting the underdogs and it's kind of what I'm doing now with the Indian scene in particular. All of them are underdogs, developed in one way or the other but not fully, and with my experience and international presence, I wish to make them rise to meet the international bands head to head in terms of quality and professionalism.


4. Reading your Facebook posts, I could learn the metal scene in India is in fact something very new... Apparently your country isn't very rock-music oriented, and guitar-based kinds of music only seem to start and develop. So could you write something like a rock/ metal history of the Indian scene, and tell us what were the first rock bands, metal bands, and even death metal bands to appear and then record something like an album or demo? Did the first metal appearances date back to the 90s, 00s or later? So are there something like cult bands from the past in India?

It's an inconsistent history, with most of the bands back in the day playing music mostly to cover their heroes. But very few of them got around to recording something or even continuing. Most of them disbanded and the music was hardly groundbreaking. It dated from the 90s as far as I can remember, significantly anyway, but it was in the last decade that bands actually got around to playing originals and getting serious about releasing material.


5. According to some TV documentaries, India is very modern and developed in the big cities, while the smallest towns are much poorer and looks closer to the third world countries... How would you place metal music in this opposition? Does it rather touch the more developed or the poor peoples?

There is a massive gap between the rich and poor, which is narrowing day by day. Unfortunately our country is plagued by corrupt politicians who are milking the nation dry and not bridging the gap. Metal music is mostly the music of the rich - those who can at least afford internet and exposure to a western lifestyle. More than the rich or poor, it's about the music touching your soul - I loved what I heard instantly. I knew this is the music I'd been searching all my life. My background didn't matter.


6. According to the links you have provided me, the Indian metal scene doesn't seem to be in a so bad health, some bands' music sounds quite neat and the recordings are quite professional... Since I know it's a subject that matters for you, I will let you write a scene report about the Indian scene and support your local scene

It's getting better, but the question I ask every band, when they get around to recording something is, "What next?" And they're clueless mostly. That's because the scene is still not united in terms of offering shows or doing promotion and it's all a struggle. It's very sad that such a big country can't have proper tours with even small local bands. Most bands and organizers are city-conscious and want to dominate their local scene, rather than reaching out and bridging the gap between local scenes and making it better for everyone. I'm trying to make an effort in that regard by signing bands from around the country and doing shows everywhere I can in a small way. It has to start.


7. Did some big foreign metal bands play gigs in India? Do you know which were the first to come and play there?

Iron Maiden stands out in my memory. That was in the last decade. After that many bands like Metallica, Iced Earth, Megadeth, Testament, Enslaved, Satyricon, Meshuggah, Kreator, etc. have come and played shows here, mostly open-air events sponsored by big companies.


8. I think the fact some big bands would come and play there could have been quite helpful to increase your local scene... But in your opinion, what could have been the major influential factors? Maybe a more common use of the internet and an easier access to information? The fact your country is in a good economic growth and becomes more modern, or eventually the fact computers make it easier to record music?

Awareness is the key. Yes, internet has proved to be a crucial tool in this regard and it helps keep everyone updated. Unfortunately, the people listening to this kind of music are getting fragmented due to narrow-mindedness of the fans. They're getting way too obsessive about their favourite style of music, when they don't realise that all of them stemmed from the same roots. What needs to be practiced is tolerance and respect and that will pave the way for more original music in the times to come.


9. How do the Indian authorities view metal and rock music in general? Is this considered something quite "dangerous" that could lead to riot, or they don't care about it in general?

It's too small for the government to bother. I personally don't think it will ever be an issue because in India, it's next to impossible to live a life dedicated to metal - you have other responsibilities and there's no real reason to protest especially against religion because our country is fairly tolerant in that regard. No one is forced, pretty much, to go to temples. People are finding stupid cliches to shout about when there's no need. I wish there was more positivity in metal, a message of some kind, at least to dispel the terrible and often true misconceptions about metal fans being violent and usually into intoxication of some form.


10. Are there currently bands to mix traditional Indian music with metal, or rock music? Or maybe metal is a bit too young for that in there?

Very few, and none of them significant enough to warrant a mention. Most people are ashamed to mix traditional music with western music - they see it as a dilution, an act of being uncool, and would rather blindly ape the tried and tested methods than do something of genuine value and content.


11. What's your opinion about the continuous improving of modernity? I feel sometimes it's a bit too much, too fast, and we loose the mind and feeling... Could you say you are nostalgic of sending paper letters in the 90s or not really? Sometimes modernity can also be good: For example all these questions were typed on a Blackberry phone with physical keyboard (And almost without real orthographical mistakes ahah) and so I could avoid the warm and heavy weather of the computer room

It's definitely positive but in some areas the charm is lost. People these days take too many things for granted. They don't value music like we did, back in our days when we borrowed tapes to listen to metal music. In those days, we had to be dependent on others for our music. Today, it's too easy for someone to check a band out and that's a good thing.


12. Did you already visit other countries? Maybe you already went in Europe or Asia for vacations? Where would you like to travel in the following years?

Yes, I've travelled widely before - in Asia and Europe but not as a metalhead. I'd love to spend more time in US and also Europe and Australia and get a closer understanding of people living there and also the music scenes respectively.


13. What would you think would be the most surprising for an European if he went in India (And eventually visited more than the "safe" historical places and beautiful hotels)?

Our traditions, which I don't think are bad at all. Most people try too hard to shun them, especially the youngsters, without realising why they were implemented in the first place. I don't mean superstitions, but morals and respect towards your elders in particular. Our country has a very rich history of spirituality and most religions were founded in India. People should spend more time understanding them, deciphering the true meaning of all, which is always common in all religions, than trying to be fashionable and rebellious and be no different from one another. It's hard to find someone who is principled and well-mannered these days.


14. Now talking about movies, most Europeans probably heard about Bollywood... But is there something like an underground Indian scene for darker cinema with horror or gore movies for example?

Haha, of course! But it's mostly campy and not of true meaning. There are some exceptions but they are too few and far between to deserve any credit as a parallel underground movement in cinema or art.


15. Coming back to your webzine, what are the current kinds of music to be the most present on the site... According to the evolution of your tastes and feelings, could we find something surprising in the future? do you have special ideas that might surprise some? Also a few years ago your site was something like an international cooperation of music writers (At the beginning I thought it was from Usa)... Will this still be the case, or maybe you will exclusively welcome Indian writers to spread the occult Indian satanic pride and domination all over the earth? Uhuh

I've always tried to expand our boundaries because as you grow, you realise that good music is good music, regardless of the genre. It's only your understanding of it which is flawed. I love metal music because it's so intricate and demanding and anything lesser would bore me easily. We started with Death Metal, expanded to Grindcore, Doom Metal and of course Black Metal and Thrash Metal was always considered and never a problem because it was small in numbers. I mentioned all of these genres on the site banner back in the day, but expanded to also cover Ambient and Neo-Classical music by those writers competent enough to write about them.
Yes, I had a formidable staff back in the day which unfortunately lost steam due to various reasons. I'd like to take this chance to commend all writers writing for metal which is mostly free because it's mostly a thankless job. People will realise in the future the importance of promotion when there are 1000 bands vying for attention. That is when the tide will favour the writers. I hope then the writers are fair and not given to partiality. That is why, ever since my site's inception as Diabolical Conquest, I've never had ads and never will - to keep my integrity and sanctity as an honest but not ruthless webzine intact.


16. What are your next plans with the label? Do you have future releases in mind, or will you distribute Indian bands and older releases for now?

Earlier I had two releases to worry about, that of The Dead and Preludium. But now, with the formation of a sub-label to cater to the bands from the Indian sub-continent, mainly to elevate them to the international level and do things for them no one has ever done before, it's getting interesting. With the physical formats waning, the importance will be on promotion which is what I've been doing as a webzine right since the start. I hope I will be able to help Indian bands reach out to the international fans on the basis of good quality and high professionalism and as a label, I'm doing everything I can towards that end.


17. I'm not aware about your underground activities dating back from before Diabolical conquest. Is there something to talk about? Maybe you even played in a band or made some music at a moment?

We've done a lot of work ever since the start. People are too quick to judge but perhaps you understand the daily sacrifices that are made to promote a band. I built the site's reputation from nothing, lost it overnight, and I'm prepared to do it all over again - this time with a clean intent and only positive, honest content. I removed all negative reviews from the site and that's because on a humane level, I couldn't hurt bands despite their music not being up to the mark. In that case, I would rather not write about them than write and criticize them too harshly. I don't compromise on my morals or honesty this way.
I'm grateful to every single writer who wrote for us, every single review is valued. I'm also grateful to every single viewer who took out the time to read our stuff, which I hope is still good enough. I have resorted to writing shorter reviews since I've removed the rating scale (didn't want to be too harsh) and that is the way to stick to the point and don't bore the reader with your theories about an album they can rather just listen to these days.
I've picked up my guitar again after two failed attempts, one out of hopelessness (I didn't see a future - which is why I'm intent on giving bands one) and the second time because someone in my family was terminally ill, but God-willing, this time I will pursue my practice and hopefully make some use of it.


18. When I was a child I always wondered why the Indians from America didn't come from or live in India, even though their name looked so close... Have you got an idea about it?

That's because their parents had migrated from India to America a few decades back and their kids grew up in the western culture and behaved like them, even though their names, given to them by their Indian parents, were mostly Indian.


19. Could you tell us how Indian peoples generally view west Europeans countries, and especially France and peoples who live in there? Is this the old clichés like the bread, the wine, is this about old literature, movies, or something else? Are you conscious India might one day become more developed than western Europe, and we would have only our eyes to cry (And our fingers to play doom AhAh)

French language sucks. I curse your language for not pronouncing words the way they are spelled. Other than that, most people view French people as more likely being eccentric and artistic.
I don't think in my lifetime I will see India being more developed than European countries. That's because corruption is too rigid and it will take many years to eradicate it from the roots, which is the only way the country can progress. But that said, our country is already far, far richer than the European ones in terms of religion and spirituality which, more often than not, breeds good people. Yes there are fanatics and there are the blind followers, but science combined with intuition is the future, which is already happening albeit in a very small way.
I hope I'll live to see the day where Indian bands are namedropped alongside European bands by people around the world.


20. This is the free talk-about-what-you-want question... So you can use and abuse it.

I've taken enough time of the readers. Thanks!


21. I think this is ok for now, feel free to speak about what you need and conclude this interview. Thanks for the answers.

Thank you again immensely for this opportunity and for your interest. What I'm doing is what my country needs perhaps. I hope I don't cave in due to politics or pressure and rest only when the basic needs for bands are met and their ambitions are achieved in some small way, or at least provide them with hope, which sometimes is all they need. About me delivering, that I can only try. I just hope my intent remains good and my efforts bear some fruit in a positive way.


Website:  http://www.transcendingobscurity.com