Formed in 2014 by musicians from Indonesia, Italy, Turkey, and Mexico, Indian Nightmare made a difference within the wider trad metal scene right from the start. As self-proclaimed tribal metal punks, the quintet put up their tent in German capital Berlin and quickly established themselves with an original tack on blackened thrash metal, both aesthetically and musically.
By making the members’ different cultural backgrounds almost palpable, their 2016 debut “Taking Back the Land” offered such a striking variation on the genre template that the youngsters were hailed as newcomers of the year by fans and media, a title that was fiercely defended at each succeeding gig the played. Therefore, expectations were high in advance of the follow-up, but “By Ancient Force” turns out to be another proverbial tomahawk to the head.
Going into the songwriting process, the hopefuls felt no pressure at all. “We got to know each other better,” says guitarist Butch. “The essence of our sound remains the same since none of us is replaceable. We all contribute our respective parts, and that makes this project what it is.”
The material was produced by the band itself with help from friends after recording the basic tracks live at Big Snuff Studios “because it’s the best way to bring out our energy. We used awesome retro equipment, the honest and warm sound of real analogue tape in this facility from the 1970s combined with our aggressive music was just perfect.”
Without changing the recipe of their magical potion, Indian Nightmare managed to concoct a finer-tasting yet still searing brew. “All we needed was there already”, the axeman agrees. “Versatility comes from us all being involved in the compositional process, but we performed beyond my expectations. Thus, it’s become a highly ambitious album to be very proud of.”
For confirmation, you can simply start with playfully elaborate opener ‘Bastions of Nightmares’, a tune about your personal demons “To overcome them is sometimes even harder than steel, yet eventually, you have to accept yourself how you are in order to find peace.” Of course, “By Ancient Force” is rife with truly “ferric” imagery, though by no means does the five-piece engage in hollowed-out clichés or simply go through the motions.
Take, for instance, ‘Incursions of Death’ and try to shake off the feeling of listening to Venom on steroids, or just give in to the enchantingly “ethnic” melodies in ‘Serpent's Eye’ and ‘Fire Meets Steel’. According to Butch, these are what characterises the combo’s style. “We partly come from Islamic countries, and religion leaves its mark although we don’t believe in it. The music we listened to as children still influences us, there is something mystical about it which we find fascinating.”
Then, there’s barnstormers such as ‘Yang Taram Terampas’, probably the most straightforward song on the album, albeit still with some wistful guitar leads and an unmistakable message to make it something special. “It’s about people oppressed and exploited by authorities and the military for resources like gold or copper. It has happened time and again all across the world ever since, particularly to indigenous folk – like in West Papua where the Indonesians chased to death those who fought for freedom and independence. We are all one on this planet. Some people seem not to understand this simple thing. They create inequality, hate, supremacy and violence, misunderstanding our common purpose. If this remains unchanged, we face inevitable extinction.”
Keeping this in mind, it is clear were Indian Nightmare come from ideologically. “We are against racism, sexism or any other kind of bullshit an stand our ground with regards to this! Everybody has the right to lead the lives they want.” The title “By Ancient Force” corresponds to this attitude, referring to the roots we all share. “As humanity, we have managed to cut ourselves off from nature, existing in a plastic world. Therefore, this band is ready to take back the lands we live in, and this is being achieved by ancient force!”
So there you have them: classic metal tropes of self-empowerment and unity, clad in a statement of intent as uncompromising as it is morally sound ,not to forget maybe more topical than ever in this day and age. With the album finished and ready for release, the band is definitely meant to stay with us for quite some time. “We have reached a new level with our second attack and are willing to go as far as we can. This is just the beginning …”