“Metal Tigers”

By Dr. Abner Mality

I’ve felt for quite some time now that the next “breakthrough” country for heavy metal will be India. Bit by bit, this now seems to be coming true. Indian bands are starting to trickle forth and it won’t be long before the dam breaks. When that happens, look for AGAINST EVIL to be leading the way.

These dudes have got a very polished sound that draws influence from the classics like PRIEST, DIO, QUEENSRYCHE and ACCEPT. They’ve got a European tour and an alliance with Doc Gator Records under their belts and their latest album “End of the Line” should see them making even more inroads beyond the borders of India.

I hooked up with main man Shasank to get the lowdown on India’s rising sons...

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to AGAINST EVIL! Your name will be a new one to some of our readers...can you give us a quick history of the band?

SHASANK: Greetings! My name is Shasank and I am the songwriter, rhythm/lead guitar player for AGAINST EVIL. It all started back in 2010 when we formed a rock/metal cover band called “ECHO”. We played shows all over the country and had a great time playing covers of our favorite rock, metal bands. In 2014, we realized that it was time to start writing original music and that’s when we formed “AGAINST EVIL”. We play traditional heavy metal with a touch of power metal, speed metal and thrash metal. We have released an EP and a full-length album and our second full-length album “End of the Line” is coming out in May.

WC: What was it that lit the metal flame in you guys? Was it a particular band or concert that led you into this music?

S: We grew up listening to classic heavy metal bands from the 80’s like JUDAS PRIEST, ACCEPT, DIO, IRON MAIDEN, MEGADETH and many other bands like these. So, we always wanted to make the similar kind of music. 

WC:  I’ve thought of India as one of the “next frontiers” of heavy metal music. Is there a hunger for it there? What kind of fanbase exists?

S: Absolutely. India is home to many great metal bands that are putting out excellent releases on par with the best in the world. Unfortunately, metal is not at all popular here so the fanbase is very limited and also are the opportunities for bands. 

WC:  Is the Indian metal scene centered in certain areas or is it nationwide? It’s a huge country, bigger than USA.

S: The scene is definitely centered in a few big cities like Bangalore and Mumbai having a much bigger scene compared to other smaller cities. The scene is also nonexistent in most parts of the country. 

WC: I see you guys had a tour of Europe in your background! What was that like and what was the best show from that tour?

S: It was amazing and a life changing experience for us. We can’t wait to go back and do it all again! Almost all the shows have been killer with packed audiences and a great response which is unbelievable because it was our first time in Europe. We owe it all to the fans and supporters who made it such a huge success. If I had to pick one show, it would be “Turock Open Air” in Essen, Germany. That was our first open-air festival show and it was an incredible feeling to play in front of thousands of people and also share the stage with legendary bands such as RIOT V and QUEENSRYCHE.

WC: The last year and a half, the world has been dealing with the Covid epidemic. How has this affected you and is India past the worst of it?

S: Luckily, it has not affected us a lot personally. We are all doing fine and staying safe. But it did affect the band and our plans. “End of the Line” was originally supposed to be an EP with just the first 5 songs and a release date of summer 2020. It was recorded, mixed and ready for release but we couldn’t do so due to the pandemic. Since we postponed the release, we wrote and added 4 more songs to make it a full-length release. We also had a European tour booked for November 2020 which we had to postpone. I think the worst phase of this pandemic is behind us, but a new wave has recently begun and the numbers are going up again. Luckily, vaccines are now available easily so let’s hope for the best. 

WC:The band managed to get the great Billy Sheehan to play on “Out For Blood”! How did you manage to get him involved?

S: Yes, and we still can’t believe it ourselves!! We got in contact with him through a friend back in 2020 when all the songs were already recorded and just about to be mixed. Since we got the opportunity of a life time to get in contact with such a legend, we asked him if he would be interested to play bass on one of the songs. Since all the songs were already written, “Out for Blood” was our first choice because it’s a very old school 80’s metal/hard rock song which fits perfectly with his playing style. He heard the demo and said he loved the song and agreed to play immediately. It’s an honor to have such a legendary musician play on one of our songs and we can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

WC:  The cover of “End of the Line” looks like it shows the band getting shocked in the electric chair while shadowy figures watch. What’s the story behind the cover and what’s the song about?

S: The cover is based on the title song which is about a dystopian future where the common people have no rights and are trapped under the control of evil governments and shadow organizations. On the cover, the band also known as “The Army of Four” are being sentenced to death by the electric chair for rebellion against the government. 

WC:  Is there one particular song on “End of the Line” that’s your favorite?

S: It’s really hard to pick a favorite from this album because I think all of them kick ass. But, if I absolutely have to, I would pick the song “Speed Demon”.

WC: I see the band has a record deal with Doc Gator Records for Europe. Is there any label from the US you’re talking to about distribution?

S: Yes, we have a European distribution deal with Doc Gator Records. They are a bunch of awesome people who are very passionate about metal and promoting underground bands. They are also responsible for putting together our first European tour. We are not in contact with any label from the US, but if anyone reading this interview knows any good labels that would like to distribute our music in the US, please contact us. I think we have a little fanbase in the US because we keep receiving orders on Bandcamp and messages on social media. So, we would love to grow this fanbase by working with a good label.

WC: Is there any particular label you think fits AGAINST EVIL’s music best...power metal, speed metal, traditional metal?

S: We like to call it “Adrenaline inducing, fist pumping, bone crushing heavy metal!!!” but to keep it simple, I think we can label it as “Heavy Metal”

WC: Have you had any new songs written since “End of the Line” and if so, what are they sounding like?

S: No. We always like to take a break after we finish an album. Right now, our full focus is on promoting the new album in the best way possible.

WC: What other Indian metal bands would you encourage people to check out?

S: KRYPTOS, INNER SANCTUM and CHAOS are some of my favorites.

WC: If you could have dinner with any three people from history, who would they be?

S: Probably Lemmy, Halford and Zakk Wylde.

WC: Has AGAINST EVIL ever had a “Spinal Tap” moment where things went really bad that you could share with us?

S: Not really. We’ve had a few bad moments on and off stage, but nothing to really talk about.

WC: Any last words for the fans?

S: Firstly, thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview. I would like to thank all our fans for their love and support. Do check out new album “End of the Line” which will be out on May 14th worldwide. We have released the first single and more are on the way. If you are a fan of traditional heavy metal, power metal, speed metal or even thrash metal, I promise you that you will like it. Take care and stay safe! Cheers!